How to monitor your F@#% Access Policy

During our stay at Landa Park in New Braunfels earlier this year, I thought we discovered the headquarters of HughesNet, our mobile satellite internet service provider. But it was just some company with the same name that I have decided to call the team at Hughes: FAPCo

FAP (Fair Access Policy) n: A download threshold assigned by Hughes to each HughesNet service plan that limits the amount of data that may be downloaded during a typical day. A small percentage of subscribers who exceed this limit will experience a temporary reduction of speed.

What is FAPCo New Braunfels TexasHa! Temporary? Reduction? Like I said, Ha! You definitely know when you’ve been FAP’d, because your connection will crawl to a virtual halt. Without warning. And it can stay that way for up to 24 hours.

Our service plan comes with a daily download threshold of 375 MB. Every once in a while, if we don’t pay attention to how much time we spend online – or what we download – in a given day, we may get FAP’d. But during our stay at Landa it happened a number of times. Enough to think someone was piggybacking our network. But we’ve learned to lock it down tight, and one look around made us really question if any of our neighbors were capable of hacking us. So we sought a better method for monitoring our daily HughesNet account usage. Here’s what we discovered …

Our fellow full-time geek friend Sean, of Our Odyssey told us about the HughesNet FAP Monitor. This Windows-only utility displays an icon indicating your current HughesNet usage status and warns of any imminent Fair Access Policy violation. We’re no dummies, but had a terrible time getting this to work on Rene’s machine, but with Sean’s perseverance we got it configured and working. For a while. One day it just stopped working. And we gave up trying to fix it after discovering various discussions about HNFP not working.

The one thing the HughesNet FAP Monitor was good at, while it worked, was making René obsessed about our current FAP status. So I quit trying to make it work after finding a better solution. One that works on my Mac (or any machine) and isn’t always flashing in my face.

Grease Monkey Firefox Add-on Fap Monitor ScriptThe Greasemokey Firefox Add-On allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript. And the Hughes Usage Calculator script will customize the display of your Hughesnet account information page.

This method lets me check our threshold status, when I want to. The script adds a “Remaining (MB)” column to our HughesNet usage page with convenient color-coding to indicate when we should step away from the computers for a while. It was simple to set up, here’s how …

  1. Use Firefox
  2. Install Greasemonkey
  3. Install User Script
  4. Submit Your HughesNet Site ID
  5. Bookmark Your HughesNet Usage Page

This isn’t to say we’ll never get FAP’d again, but at least we can easily monitor our usage now without getting all obsessive about it.

Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot - BlackSince drafting this post we have discovered an even better way to avoid the FAP. We have gone redundant, and now also have a Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. This allows us to spread our bandwidth usage over two different accounts. It also gives us two methods to connect, in case there is something blocking our satellite, or we have n cell phone coverage. More about this later…

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13 Responses to “How to monitor your F@#% Access Policy”

  1. A friend of mine pointed me here when I wrote about my FAPing woes today. We are camphosting at a forest service campground in Alabama. The FS provided us with Hughesnet as a means of getting internet service so they can keep in contact with us. We were FAPed the second day online, and two more times in a week before we finally called tech support at Hughes and figured out what the problem was.

    Now that we know, we are trying to monitor usage to avoid getting bumped off. I have a Verizon Aircard that we put on “vacation” while we are here, but might just have to bite the bullet and turn it back on. I have considered that option, too. If you find any other options or solutions, please do let me know.

  2. Jim,
    hope downloading your b-day card did not cause you to get FAP’d ;-). You got a MiFi? That is very nice.

  3. I don’t miss this one bit! I have a real house now that doesn’t roll away, with a real desk where my computer and I can sit, with real internet connection.

    The changes in our lives is so overwhelming that we haven’t blogged in a while, but know that we’re here watching. 🙂

    And Fox is hangin in there, looks like he’s staying til we get to Canada.
    xoxoxo

    • OMG! You heard us talking. I was just asking Rene whatever happened to Rikki, and you commented…

      We have a real house too, with a fireplace, endless running hot water, porcelain toilets and all! And tomorrow we’re winterizing it and headed back out onto the open. Time to head south for the winter.

      It’s great to hear from youn and that Fox is well. Traveling 8 feet just doesn’t sound the same! 😉

  4. Hi Jim & Renee

    Have you thought about a mobile land Vsat? On the boats we use them without too much hassle. Sea Tel is the manufacturer but KVH market them in the U.S. Boat system prices are scary but land based prices should be better in the US than here in Spain and the E.U. Just a thought.

    Wish Verizon would set up here. Vodafone and Telefonica seem to have it wrapped up. BTW – that Satellite finder utility is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen (how geeky am I?) and will be using it with the boats. Got an East to West Atlantic crossing coming up and will try it half way through on the Inmarsat birds.

    All the best.

    • Thanks for the comment Rob! We might just look into that, though I doubt we’ll be investing in a totally new system to replace our MotoSat setup anytime soon.

  5. You might also try SurplusMeter.

    It will monitor your actual NIC to determine the amount of bandwidth used on a daily basis. Won’t totally solve your problem since it doesn’t monitor Hughes and is reporting usage only by the computer that it is installed on. However, it is a Mac app and may help you track down the things that you are doing that are bandwidth intensive.

    http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/20884/surplusmeter

    • Thanks for the tip Brent! Since I’m the mac guy around here (René is on Windoze), I may look into SurplusMeter for monitoring my own bandwidth.

  6. Like Bev, we signed up for our first Verizon Broadband card a couple years ago when it has a true unlimited usage contract~ I have not upgraded my card since… if I upgrade the hardware, I will lose the unlimited contract.

    I am going to keep it as long as I can too! (^_^)

  7. Hey Jim,
    All that F-ing stuff is above my geek-quotient. BUT, I just upgraded to the MiFi a couple of weeks ago and LOOOVE it. I have been with Verizon Broadband for so long that I am lucky enough to be grandfathered into the truly unlimited usage. They’ll have to pry that contract out of my cold, dead hands! The MiFi works great with my iPod touch also. My only complaint about it is no battery indicator other than the flashing lights.
    Take care!

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