The fractional T1 we were working on getting was going to be bought through a company called Megapath, but the actual wiring to the house would be done by the company that manages the local wiring: Fairpoint. So we had to talk to them about the location. Somewhere along the way it occurred to Siobhan to ask them if they could beat Megapath's price.
By sheer happenstance, they said that they had just, that week, instituted a new program for T1s and they could beat it soundly. Instead of $389/month for a 256Kbps fractional T1, they're quoting $209/month for a full T1 at 1.5Mbps. That's about six times faster than the 256K line, and not only isn't it any slower on throughput than the WildBlue line (where the 256K would have been a fair amount slower), it's probably even a little faster.
So we've cancelled the Megapath line and we're working on the Fairpoint account. As it happens, our account representative is someone I know. He used to work for the state's IT people and was the one to bring a T1 line to my office years ago. Cute.
Their install costs are no more than Megapath's: the primary difference is Megapath cites a flat price for the router and equipment, while Fairpoint leaves it to me to procure it. So I went out on eBay to get an idea for prices and found an older (but entirely adequate) Cisco router with the CSU/DSU (the bit that ties a T1 into it) included, about to end with a starting bid of $10. So I bid, so instead of the $599 Megapath wanted, I'm spending less than $30 delivered for the router.
Fairpoint says that the construction to bring the line to us will probably take a few months, but that would have been true through Megapath too (it's just that Megapath didn't know that yet), since it would be the same lines. So we have a bit of a wait, which is going to be agonizing. But the idea of a true T1 is really exciting, and the price being so much lower is certainly good news.
In fact, we're wondering if we might not be able to reduce or eliminate our satellite TV costs after there's a true T1. Between things like Hulu, Netflix, and other sources for TV over the Internet, we might be able to get everything we want. Or if not, we might be able to drop many of the channels and pay for a much cheaper service. We're not going to hurry through deciding that, though. If we can save money on that, that's great, but if we can't, we can still float this cost.
The Fairpoint account doesn't include any email boxes, but upgrading our POBox accounts from forwarders to mailboxes adds only $15/year, so I'm not worried about that. It's still hazy to me whether it will include a domain (tricklebrook.org if it does) or if we'll still want to use DynDNS to provide mapping to our home automation system.
This is definitely the kind of chicken you don't want to count until it's hatched. We got very excited about DSL once before when Verizon promised we could get it and then it fell through. Still, this seems more likely to pan out than that was. We're going to have to get in the habit of revisiting all those things that we always dismissed as impossible with our connection -- Skype, webcams, online gaming, streaming video, and more ideas keep coming up.