Tech Notes: Internet Service Options in South Central York County

Your options for decent Internet service in south central York County PA are limited. We do not recommend one service provider over another – service quality can vary greatly from house to house, even in the same neighborhood.

We strongly support local businesses. That said, we also strongly advise that you check up on any local business you decide to use for your Internet service. Some are great. Some are not. Some are better in certain locations than others. Be especially careful with local firms selling cellular connections. There have been many issues with these types all over the country and many reports here at home of the same issues. This seems to be most prevalent with companies reselling cellular hotspot / LTE access. They often engage in business practices not supported by those they resell for.

This list might be missing some options. If you have found something and want to share it, please do. I will add it to the list after a quick review to get the details. Email to alex.wilson@collabsion.com.

Cable Company (Comcast or Armstrong)

You have only one choice when it comes to a cable provider at this point. If you have Comcast currently, you cannot get Armstrong and vice versa. There are a few spots in the county where you can choose when your house is built, but they are only in areas where their services meet up. Cable internet service is by far your best option in this area for speed and reliability. In general, Armstrong only serves the south east corner of the county – areas east of I-83 to include:

  • Stewartstown Borough
  • Cross Roads Borough
  • Fawn Grove Borough
  • Delta Borough
  • Winterstown Borough
  • Hopewell Township
  • East Hopewell Township
  • Fawn Township
  • Peach Bottom Township
  • Lower Chanceford Township
  • Chanceford Township
  • North Hopewell Township

Everything else in York County is served by Comcast or another cable provider (there are some smaller ones in the northern part of the county). Cable providers are not obligated to serve your home. If you currently do not have service, they will only extend service to your home if they deem it profitable enough. Otherwise, you are free to pay them the cost to extend which can be costly. They have a franchise agreement with your municipality that may or may not dictate if they have to cover you based on how many homes per mile they can hit. Check with your municipality to find out.

Verizon FIOS (fiber)

There is no FIOS service in south central York County. Don’t ever expect it either. Cost to run fiber in this area is high and Verizon has not been willing to expand into rural markets.

Wireless Internet Service Provider (DoubleDog)

A WISP provides service wirelessly. They have towers throughout the area that broadcast to an antenna on your house. This type of service is hit or miss depending on your line of sight to their towers. Do not expect cable/FIOS speeds. It won’t happen. Most WISPs offer speeds up to about 25Mbps down (most are more likely in the 10-15Mbps down). They often have caps on how much data you can use. Service will not be reliable if you have trees or buildings in the path of the signal. Just because you can see their tower does not mean it will work – the signal is shaped somewhat like an elongated football and they have to have clearance in the majority of what is referred to as the Fresnel Zone. Depending on distance from their tower, at the center point, this could mean as much as 30-40 foot out from the center beam of the signal. This can be problematic in wooded areas.

Satellite Service (HughesNet, ViaSat, Excede)

Service is weather dependent and never very fast. Expect high latency as the signal needs to travel over 25,000 miles up and down plus around the Internet to get where you are going. Will not support online gaming very well and VPNs for work can be a problem. Expect the satellite provider to promise you the world and deliver nothing much. Pretty typical. You must have line of sight to their satellites. No trees in the way. Expect low data usage caps. Speeds of 8-15Mbps down are about all you will get.

DSL Service (Verizon and many others)

This service is provided over traditional copper phone lines. It is distance limited. You must be close to the telephone central office for it to work. Don’t expect to get speeds above 8-10Mbps down, and depending on distance, considerably less (some report barely able to get 1Mbps down in this area). The phone companies are not interested in upgrading and will block every attempt you make to get this service.

Cellular Hotspot (AT&T, Verzon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and all the other resellers)

Very limited option. Usually has very low data caps. If they offer “unlimited” make sure you read the fine print. It usually comes with a throttling after a certain amount of usage. Only works if you have good cellular service. In rural areas, don’t expect to see the newer 5G technology anytime soon. Too expensive to deploy in rural areas and they are focused only on major metro markets.

Be careful of companies reselling service from the major cellular providers. While most are selling legitimate service, there are some that are “cheating” the system and if caught, you will lose your service. Some of the companies offering these services have questionable backgrounds. Buyer beware.

Do It Yourself Wireless

At Collabsion, we build wireless networks for clients. One of our clients is a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) in Washington State. They provide internet via wireless to their clients. They also have fiber running through much of their service area (along main roads only). Often times, we have a home or two set back from a house along the road. Since the fiber provider won’t run the fiber down their private lane, we have a solution that works pretty good for them.

We work out agreements with the house near the fiber (or in the case of York County, the house with cable!). The client down the lane contracts with the fiber provider for service at the house along the road. The service terminates in a box outside the house. We run a network cable from the box to a radio on the roof or nearby that can see the house needing the service. We mount a radio on that house and link them up. There is no violation of the terms of service because you are paying the cable/fiber provider for service. You are just extending the service to your house via wireless instead of expensive wires.

Your cost for this is our labor and parts to install the radios, plus a yearly maintenance fee for us to maintain the radio links. Expect to spend $700-1,100 for the install and ongoing maintenance around $250 per year. With this type of wireless, we can usually achieve speeds upwards of 300-400Mbps down (assuming your cable/fiber provider can support that).

The author:

Alex Wilson is the co-owner of Collabsion, a technology consulting firm that specializes in wireless networking solutions. These solutions include WiFi, point-to-point, and point-to-multipoint networks that can span great distances. Collabsion can also provide consulting services related to process improvement, project management, business continuity planning, and office support services. 

717-817-2503

alex.wilson@collabsion.com

www.collabsion.com