I now have a potato-masher antenna atop of shiny new 50-foot mast. To other hams reading this, you may understand that to me, it is not an eyesore. It is an object of beauty and efficiency.
I had an interesting chat with the tech who did the installing. The sub-station that my signal is coming from is only 1 1/4 miles away from me "straight across country." He also told me that there are 6 different wireless services in our small town, not including GVEC. Although there is no law to require it, it is the custom of most such companies to synchronize their signals with each other to prevent interference. None of these little mom-&-pop companies have gone to the expense (a mere $200) to do this, so they constantly interfere with each other and with GVEC. He also said that my signal is so strong that I was actually getting a faster speed that I was paying for, and they might have to "turn me down a little." Good news.
I have been downloading some free mp3s from Amazon for the past little while, while simultaneously doing routine browsing/blog reading. No problems at all. I can download an album faster than I can listen to it.
I fit this into our budget by dropping our satellite TV back to the basic service, which covers just about anything we ever watched, anyway. I still need to buy a router so we can connect other devices via WiFi, but they aren't that expensive and it will be cheaper in the long run than renting one from GVEC. It will be really nice to be able to stream movies from Netflix now.
Also, no bandwidth restrictions with this service. The only restriction is on the actual speed of the service. When I asked about this, he laughed and said, "No, no restrictions. This isn't satellite!"
So, today was a good day.