I have Exede and when I first found out I was going to have to go with one of these companies I was having second thought about moving. Be we love the house and Exede is doing a great job for me. I am not getting 50 megs like I was getting at the old house, but the speed I am getting is pretty good. I normally wait till have to mid night to do down loads. The old house could do it when ever I wanted to and at 50meg down loads was like a blink of an eye. But I happy with the house, and doing great with exede. No direct tv is another story. My internet hardly ever goes down, direct tv is always going down, and awful customer service, which Excede has been good to me, with great customer service.
I remember those days as well, dial-up and all night downloads just to keep the computer up to date, - I live in the country as well and was in the middle of dsl on both sides of my address, talk about just out of reach, then i decided to try wildblue. it was better then dial up but just not what i wanted, had to keep it though. then when exede bought them out i waited at first thinking it was the exact same thing but moved to exede because of the late night free zone and 3 teenagers, i really like what i have now. about 4 months for me, now fiber optics just got ran out my way but i dont see a need to change.
Dial up here would be 24kbps at best, usually closer to 14.4 and, that would require TWO land lines in my home on lines that don't even support caller ID at a total cost of 150/month. Same total monthly cost and I have Exede and Exede voice with better speed and equal call quality. Definitely an improvement over my alternatives.