Streaming Internet Services and Costs

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Streaming Services Logos

Several people have asked me which streaming and Internet services we use and how much we saved by discontinuing old school (non-streaming) services.

As an indication, I literally unbolted my DirecTV dish and threw it off the roof. (Note: you have to return the box from inside your how, but AT&T doesn’t want the dish back). It felt quite liberating.

Here’s a link to a Google Spreadsheet showing the services we’re streaming and their cost vs. the Old School services we’ve discontinued. All the information is as of 11/4/2019. We make changes from time-to-time.

I think we’re saving at least $52/month and getting better service. That being said, the streaming TV services do occasionally buffer or stutter. It can be frustrating. DirecTV can be just as frustrating during a heavy rainstorm.


Internet Access – November 2019 Update

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Dewees Island WiFi

Our cellular LTE residential data service has dramatically improved. With excellent technical and customer support help from Elliott Friedman at E. T. Friedman Consulting, we ordered a new MoFi v2 LTE cellular router, attached it to 2 Wilson yagi antennas and a Netgear Orbi mesh network.

Now our network is

  • faster (roughly 9 MB download, 16 MB upload and 40 ms ping)
  • more reliable (less jitter, less downtime in our initial tests, and
  • better supported.

We’re using about $1,000 of gear — but you might not need it all. You might get away with spending only $500 (talk to Elliott) plus installation/consulting. The ongoing cost is $99/month without contracts or caps. We’re exploring other service options, including the new T-Mobile stationary service, that might cut the cost roughly in half in coming months.

We’ve heard from Elliott that he has another Dewees client with higher speeds. Together we’re exploring why our service isn’t as fast.

We first met Elliott because of the Dewees Island Bird Cam project. We’ve found him to be very knowledgeable, responsive and customer friendly. He’ll figure out what’s best for your situation (and not use some generic solution that only works at someone else’s house). The easiest way to reach Elliott is via email: . He can also be reached by text or voice at 843-882-5299.

Technology keeps moving. For historical perspective, here are some links to previous articles on this subject. They’re getting stale, but still, have some interesting information:


Webcams on Dewees Island for Hurricane Dorian and Current Weather Conditions

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Webcam pointed at Dewees Island Impoundment

Facing Southwest

Webcam pointed at Dewees Island Chapel Pond

Facing Northwest

Webcam pointed at Birdfeeder Cam

Facing Southeast

Typically this is focused on birdfeeders with hummingbirds, painted buntings and many other birds.
For now, removed the big feeders. The camera is pointed at the Dewees Impoundment

Current Weather Conditions on Dewees Island

Located on rooftop deck about 48 feet above Mean Sea Level

[conditions note: data reported here seems stale compared to other reports we’re receiving.  They say Dewees has received almost 10” of rain.  Here’s a screenshot Rain totals

If you want your own weather station, try Davis Instruments Vantage Vue.


Internet and TV access on Dewees — one year later

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About a year ago we published a blog post called, “Internet Access – Solutions Available Today“.

Here’s what’s changed:

1. We still love our cellular Internet connections using data resellers.

To ensure that we always have access for the business Judy runs — Dewees Real Estate — and the rest of our needs, we actually have 2 networks run by different service providers with different underling networks (AT&T and T-Mobile).  Plus our cell phones, tablets and Apple Watch run on Verizon.  See the article from last year for instructions on how to setup such a system.  We think this is overkill and almost certainly not necessary for most households on Dewees, but are happy to know we always have access.

We’re using gobs of data for all kinds of upload and download services.  Once in a while we get a warning that we’re approaching the Top 5% of all data users on the plan, but we don’t think we’re being throttled or otherwise limited by the services.

2.  We’ve turned off several other services.

Excede satellite Internet – turned off.

AT&T DSL – turned off.

AT&T home telephone line – turned off.

AT&T DirecTV – turned off.

Savings: hundreds of dollars per month.

3.  We’ve installed some new services and hardware.

Switched fire and burglar alarm monitoring to cellular black box system.

We setup a Roku TV from TCL and a Roku Stick.

We hooked up the TV antenna in our attic (again) to get 20 local channels over the air.  This might also be achievable with an inexpensive indoor antenna.

We setup Sonos home theatre surround sound.

4.   We’re using lots of streaming services.


Amazon Prime


Spotify & Sonos with Spotify

YouTube TV — a way to get live TV programming, including Charleston stations; we’re still deciding if it’s necessary given HD TV over the attic antenna.

YouTube — great for all kinds of instructional videos, such as Yoga with Adrienne and Touring the Pantanal

5.  We’re using numerous Internet cloud services.

Google Drive and Dropbox

Adobe Lightroom CC


PlayStation for gaming

and on and on


While our Internet isn’t as fast as in Manhattan or San Fransisco, it’s highly functional and works well with todays entertainment, communication and business services.

We know that lots all over the island are using it successfully, some with external antennas and some with just the cellular modem box.  If you’re not using it, you might want to investigate it for your home.


Dewees Island web cams during Hurricane Florence 2018

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We installed 2 webcams on the island, roughly 35′ or 40′ above sea level. One faces Southeast over the Impoundment (aka Old House Lagon). The other faces West over the impoundment towards Chapel Pond dock.

Southeast camera

Southwest camera

Check out Dewees Island Real Estate

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Dewees Island ferry to Atlantic Ocean


Internet Access – Solutions Available Today

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We get a lot of questions about Internet access on the island: and what we are using at our house, whether it’s bundled with land lines, DSL or satellite, etc. Improving Internet speed has been identified as a priority at our annual meeting. There is a group of volunteers working on Internet solutions, and one step in the process was to have a sharing and brainstorming session about what solutions were working well for people. Here are some of the outflows of those discussions.

Existing Solutions

  • AT&T DSL
  • Cellular Data from one of the 4 major carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint
  • Satellite Internet — HughesNet, ViaSat – reviews

Newer Solutions

The new solutions in the market are trying to overcome 2 types of problems:

  1. A business model that limits data usage by “throttling” or dramatically slowing down data (to almost unusable speeds).  Even when you get an “unlimited” plan from a major, it doesn’t feel unlimited in practice.
  2. A weak signal

Let’s address them one at a time.

New Cell Data Plans — Overcoming Data Throttling

Cellular resellers are buying data in bulk from the major carriers and reselling it under terms that aren’t available directly to consumers.  These new plans offer unlimited, unthrottled, no contract plans.  Most also offer brief free trial periods.  However, they still have one potential limit — if the cellular tower you’re connected to becomes overloaded, even temporarily, then your service can be “deprioritized.”  Effectively your data goes to the back of the line.  This might cause a dramatic reduction in speeds, buffering, or even an interruption of service.  The providers I talked to promoted the idea that your service would return to full speed as soon as the cell became unloaded.  This means that on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and other days that attract lots of people to the cellular towers closest to us on IOP and in Mt. Pleasant, our service is likely to be suboptimal.  Some of these resellers require you to buy a wireless cellular modem/router from them or a third-party; some bundle the hardware into their monthly fee.

Several people on Dewees have been experimenting with plans where the underlying carrier is T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint.  All three seem to work on parts of Dewees.  Verizon should also work as many people on the island use it for their mobile phones.  But for Internet data Verizon’s plans through these 3rd-party resellers are so expensive (as of 2/13/2018) that most aren’t finding them attractive.

So far, I’m aware of people trying these resellers

  • – examples:  David M. and Alicia R. – modem bundled into monthly fee $149/month plus startup fee for T-Mobile based plan
  • – examples: Reggie F. and Mike L. – $55/month
  • – examples: Reggie F. – $80/month
  • Dynami Wireless – examples: Faith and Fred S. – $80/month

The iPad plans limit you to 15 devices whereas the router hotspots can usually handle 32 devices.  Either should be plenty of connections for most Dewees household.  Instead, the limiting factor will be the overall data speed.

Running an iPad hotspot is a little clunkier than a dedicated cellular hotspot.

The deals the resellers offer change.  So what makes on “the top provider” now might be bested by a competitor later.  You can find more options by Googling.

It’s highly likely that you can order one of these plans and setup the equipment inside your home on your own.

Quantitative Measures of Improvement

  • DSL on Dewees tests on at a maximum of about 1.1 Mbs.  Individual results vary based on location, time of day, etc.
  • New Cell Data Plans. It’s early and we’ve only been testing in the off-peak winter season so far.  We’ve seen speeds ranging from 5-25 Mbs for both upload and download.

Qualitative Measurements

  • DSL on Dewees the signal regularly just “isn’t there”.  In many cases DSL isn’t sufficient to watch a movie without lots of annoying buffering.
  • New Cell Data Plans. It’s early and we’ve only been testing in the off-peak winter season so far.  We’ve seen speeds ranging from 5-25 Mbs for both upload and download.  Generally, the signal is plenty good enough to watch 1 or 2 or more movies at the same time.  Gamers still say that some times the signal “fades out” and then “comes back”.  In the mean time your game character might have been killed.

Cellular Antennas — Overcoming a Weak Signal

Another issue is a weak cellular single inside your home.  Signal strength on Dewees varies widely based on carrier and location.  Some of the factors affect signal strength are:

  • distance from the cell tower(s) being used by your carrier — homes towards the eastern edge Pelican Flight tend to have less signal
  • construction materials in your home — homes with metal roofs, certain types of glass and home wrap (such as Tyvek) tend to have less signal
  • environmental factors — homes in heavily wooded areas, especially those with lots of pine trees, tend to have less signal
  • and so forth

The first step try is a directional yagi antenna or two and wire them into the back of your cellular modem using ultra low loss coaxial cable.  This brings the stronger signal from outside your home into your modem.  Several people on Dewees have had good luck with them.  The direction you should point the antenna(s) depends on where your home is on the island and which carrier you’re using.  There are cell towers on IOP and near the intersection of highways 41 and 17 that you might want to point the antenna towards.  We believe the towers on IOP are best for Verizon and Sprint; the towers near highway 41 and 17 are best for AT&T and T-Mobile for most locations on Dewees.

If you’re going to use 2 antennas, then they should be set up at 90 degrees polarization from each other.  Some experts suggest angling them at 45 degrees relative to the earth and then 90 to each other.

At least one person on the far east end of the island is experimenting with a parabolic antenna.  We don’t know the results yet.

Cell Phone Booster — Another Way of Overcoming a Weak Signal

If the antennas alone aren’t enough, you might want to try a signal booster.  Home Cell Phone Signal Boosters can reduce or eliminate dropped & missed calls and increase voice, text and 4G LTE signals for all mobile devices inside your home.   They catch the signal from the best location outside, amplify it, and bring it inside.  Two of the leading vendors (as of 2/13/2018) are

  • weBoost – examples: Mark P. and Faith S.
  • SureCall – example: Mike L. is trying one

The online retail UberSignal has a more detailed description of how these devices work.  In all likelihood, you want to order the kit with a Yagi (or directional) roof antenna.  The omnidirectional ones are used for RVs and other mobile applications.

They can be purchased online from Amazon, UberSignal, weBoost, SureCall and others.

The systems come with an inside and outside antenna plus an amplifier and cabling.  They require a power source and should be properly grounded to reduce the risk from a lightning strike.  You can learn how to install them from online videos and training manuals.  Some people may want to employ a professional installer.  The devices cost $400 – $900 and I’ve been quoted$700 to $1,320 for installation.  I tried to get a group rate, but installers are in demand and I wasn’t able to get anything special.  If you do, please let other Dewees owners know.

Some installers to try:

  • Reed Worrell, Smart Wire Solutions, Phone: 843.222.WIRE (843.222.9473) — Reed is a coastal SC guy who comes highly recommended and has done work at Marcia D’s house.  He’s very busy and sometimes hard to reach.
  • Jake Stack, Powerful Signal 866-912-3444 | Direct: 435-634-6800 | — they’re a national concern who contracts with “local” installers.  They quoted $1,320.00/home for labor because their local guy would come over from Atlanta.  Powerful Signal was recommended by weBoost.
  • Others found with Google searches, such as “cell phone booster installers in South Carolina”:

Overall Recommendation

These solutions can work in combination.  Just one might be enough.

Start with an unlimited, unthrottled, no contract cellular data plan and wireless router.  Rough cost is $80/month plus the router at a one-time cost of $250.

If you don’t have enough signal at your home, then consider installing two yagi antennas.  If that’s not enough consider a Cellular Booster or a parabolic antenna.  If you’re comfortable with technology and climbing around on your roof with tools, then you can probably install the antennas and/or boosters yourself.  If you’re not, hire a certified professional.  Rough cost is $500 for equipment and $700 to $1200 for installation.

End Dead Spots

Once you have a high-speed cellular data signal, you’ll want to be able to distribute it to all parts of your home and put an end to WiFi dead spots.  New mesh WiFi networks are making this much easier than in the past.  The top offerings as of April 2018 are:

Cutting the Cord

Once you get your Internet data running at a decent and reliable speed, you might want to consider “cutting the cord”.   You might be able to save a bunch of money by disconnecting DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T DSL, etc.  Then reuse a portion of that money on services like Sling TV, Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV Now, and Amazon Prime Video.  When you’re ready Google “How to cut the cord and still watch live TV”.  New articles are being published regularly.

It Takes a Village

The ideas in this write up came from an number for island residents and online sources.  Thanks should go to David M., Faith S., Michael L., Marcia D., Mark P., Keith M. and others.  If you have more suggestions please share in the comments below.

The Future

The POA is continuing to look at ways to bring even faster signals to Dewees.  Perhaps 5G Cellular will meet our needs in a few years, perhaps not.  It’s too early to tell.  Again, if you have suggestions, please let me know.

Real Estate

Webcam – 502 Gateway Error

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Some times the Webcams are experiencing 502 Gateway Errors. Some people can see the webcams and some people can’t. Sorry about that. If you experience a 502 Gateway Error, try reloading the page again later. Some folks who reported seeing the error later said they could see the webcams.

Here are stills of the video feeds from 2017-09-09 at 9:47 a.m.

Dewees Webcam Still Images


Dewees Island Webcams During Hurricane Irma

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We installed 2 webcams on the island, roughly 35′ or 40′ above sea level.  One faces Southeast over the Impoundment (aka Old House Lagon).  The other faces West-Northwest over Chapel Pond.

Dewees Chapel Pond Webcam

Dewees Impoundment Webcam

These cameras may go up and down during the storm and its aftermath.

Real Estate

Using the Dewees Island calendar

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The new website recently added a Google calendar showing Dewees activities, such as community BBQ and golf cart parade, and Dewees meetings, such as POA and Utility meetings.  You can also click the activities tab, above, to see what’s going on on the island.

You can view the calendar by going to or by going to the website and clicking on the calendar tab. (See photo below).

Getting to Dewees Island Calendar


The graphic below shows the key ways to navigate and use the calendar. We love to click the button at the bottom right that adds the Dewees Island calendar directly to your calendar. Any updates to the Dewees calendar automatically show up in your calendar. For example, if the time of a Social Committee event changes, the new time will automatically be reflected on your calendar.

How to use the Dewees Island website calendar.



Dershie McDevitt’s Novel Has Just Been Released

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Need a great last minute Christmas gift? Buy Dershie McDevitt’s novel “Just Holler Bloody Murder.” It just became available on and will be coming out in local bookstores and on Kindle soon. The book follows female lead Callahan Banks as she returns to her beloved Timicau Island near Charleston, South Carolina. The imaginary island is based in part on Dershie’s experiences on Dewees Island.

If you order from Amazon, you can easily get the book before Christmas. I ordered a copy today and it will arrive on Wednesday.

Please follow Dershie’s book on Facebook at

There’s a press release for the book on her website at

Here is the cover of the book.

Just Holler Bloody Murder Book Cover
Book Cover