In Minnesota around '93, an ISP started offering unlimiting dialup. Through an arrangement with the state to make Internet more widely available than government offices and college campuses, they were to resell from the UMN.edu modem pool and the one T1 coming into the state to the general public. After my brother and I tag-teamed 24/7 for about two months, they changed their unlimited usage policy "due to the actions of one user".
That's after the 24 hour labs I was sleeping in, in one case ruining a keyboard with drool. Oops.
For years, I paid for dedicated SLIP connections, first in Minnesota then in Arizona, then ran a ppp emulator that takes a dial-up shell account and gives you full PPP with nat. I helped kill Global Crossing staying dialed in to the "shell account" 24x7. Downloads ran at night while I was sleeping.
When Ricochet hit Phoenix, I couldn't resist. $70 was not too much for total freedom of movement. Getting a real IP address and having the option of a dedicated IP was just awesome. Ricochet went bust, sadly. The modems were too expensive to make, and they had Alps Electric of Japan making them, and they had too many made, riding the dot com optimism, and uptape was too low. God bless Ricochet. I seriously doubt wireless will be half that awesome again.
Then there was Cox in the days before you could get a home NAT appliance. I had a FreeBSD machine doing NAT -- strictly illegal. One modem (yes, cable modem) per computer on the 'net was the policy. And no serving. I carefully recorded scans against my network for a month and a half and firewalled to refuse, not drop, any future probes from those that probed me, then started hosting crap. Cox never caught me. When I moved, their system completely hosed my account. They could ping me, even as I held the modem in my hand completely disconnected from cable, power, Ethernet, or any other connection. Clearly it wasn't me they were pinging but I could never establish that with them. This was the first time I tried to convince techs that the system was *un*plugged. Cox started off on the wrong foot and just stayed there.
After months of paying for service that didn't work, I had to cancel and went DSL for the first time. Not many people had DSL at that time. Quest was giving out Cisco 675s that you configured by typing commands at over a serial cable from a terminal program -- not xterm but minicom or HyperTerminal or whatever. Having good enough lines was a really big deal. Most people didn't. Most people still don't but they sell you the service anyway, refuse to fix the lines, and, for many users, DSL sucks in comparison to cable.
When wireless data again became available, I hopped back on the bandwagon, this time with T-Mobile. For $30/monthy, you could unlimited dial-up speed data using GPRS. They ran you through a "transparent" HTTP proxy that recompressed images and cached shit, or made it look like it hadn't changed when it was. This was extremely disruptive to a would-be web developer. It also ran you through two levels of NAT. It is and was ghetto. Outages were frequent. It was like Atlas holding the globe up, but instead of a big strong guy who cares, it was a fat stoner dude who could just barely reach the fridge.
The next major trend I just had to jump on was aiming high gain antennas down the road. Shitty MMMC connectors that have a service life of 0.5 insertions and increased WiFi noise as more and more APs go in and move more and more data seems to be making this unusable.
So, back to DSL. Except that it disconnects constantly and has less throughput than 56k dialup. It keeps training down to 64kbps when I try to use it and then probably drops and if not, has an error rate that's through the roof. I'm pretty sure that dial-up would handle the noise better. This was after it didn't work at all until I took it into the ISP (little local ISPs rule -- I sat in the FastQ office for 2.5 hours while they messed with the thing). It worked on DHCP but not static (with static IPs) and no one could figure out why but everyone was interested. I didn't press for details, but I guess it turned out to be "technical reasons". I had a great time chatting about tech and old school shit while this went on though. I feel like I need to go hang out at the ISP more, and bring pizza next time.
I'm seriously tempted to turn that cell data back on. I might also give CDMA data a whirl, care of Cricket, who wants $40/month, no contract, 5gb/soft limit.
I could easily imagine having the gateway machine with the dipole antenna soldered onto the mini-PCI card and a 56k modem plugged in, this Keyocera CDMA data card sharing appliance box, the and DSL modem all running concurrently and me continuing to fumble around for a good connection all day long.