I recently purchased a small farm in a rural area of Washington’s Olympic peninsula. We have all the basics: heat, water, and power — but (so far) no high-speed Internet. I can live happy without the Web for a few days, as I’ve done when traveling into the backcountry, but there are good reasons to have a good broadband connection at the farmhouse. After some initial research, it was obvious that setting up a high-speed connection wouldn’t be easy. The short-term solution was obviously a cellular hookup through my iPhone.
Being a bit cheap, I had a minimal AT&T service plan. Adding about $10 to my monthly bill gave me access to tethering and bumped my data plan up to 3GB — sufficient for checking email and reading the morning news on my iPads. But watching a couple of Netflix movies was a tight fit.
Two changes solved that issue. Without much notification or added cost, AT&T bumped my up to 6GB of data per month. I also discovered I could go into the Netflix user settings and set a lower resolution for downloaded media, which had no real effect on video quality.
With that established, I set up a spare Apple TV to the HDTV I’d dragged out to the farmhouse. (I had initially tried a Google Chromecast device, but couldn’t get it to connect to my tethering iPhone.) Surprisingly, watching Netflix movies via Apple TV and the iPhone was perfectly fine. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for iTunes movies. I could probably download them, if I was willing to wait a few hours. And as far as I can tell, there is no way to downgrade iTunes video.
So far the only hitch with Apple TV is that it occasionally refuses to automatically connect with the iPhone. Sometimes it just takes a minute or two; other times, I have to restart the Apple TV box. Eventually, it always works. Tethering is an excellent way of setting up a temporary network.
At some point, I will have to have broadband at the house. More research to come on that front.