Saturday, May 21, 2011

Broadband, Where Art Thou?

After my friend Sarah came up for a visit last month, she told her coworkers about her trip "up North"  to a fairly well-known vacation destination in Minnesota.

"Ah man," said one coworker. "That's where I want to live."

Sarah raised her eyebrows. "Really?"

The coworker nodded vigorously.

"Well consider this," Sarah said. "If you lived up there you have to drive 50 miles to get gas and groceries. You have no cell service. You have to drive three hours to get a Target or movie theater. And your internet costs $90 a month and you can't even watch Youtube."

The truth is, the very things that make people revel in their vacations up here are the things that can make everyday life around these parts downright frustrating.

Yes, we play $90 a month for internet service and that's no packaged deal that included phone and cable service too. Nope, that's just for internet. It's the highest "quality" satellite internet package we can buy up here and that hardly means we always have internet.

With satellite internet you're presented with how many MBs you can upload and download at any given time.  Exceed that limit and the service provider will punish you like a bad child by either slowing down your internet to dial-up speed or just completely shut off the internet all together. The download and upload limits are on a rolling quota which Wild Blue keeps intentionally ambiguous. Frustrating!

To avoid going over the limits, we do very little Youtubing around here and Pandora and Grooveshark listening are kept to a minimum. If you post a vlog, chances are, I won’t watch it. Not because I don’t want to see it, but because the consequences of going over the limit just suck.

While I was off in Chicago, we managed to cross that invisible line with Wild Blue and until this Thursday we’ve been treated to snail-like internet. That’s 10+ days of barely there internet!

Weather also affects the internet. So while the internet’s supposedly back in full force, because today’s rainy, I’ve spent most of the day refreshing and refreshing and refreshing pages, trying to get them to load.

It kind of makes me feel like this:

I know lots of people are kind of down on President Obama for promising broadband to America's rural residents and then not instantly getting internet to everyone as soon as he took office. To this I say, when has any government ever done anything quick-like? Furthermore, isn't it usually the government's quick-like actions that often prove most regrettable?

In the past year, it’s become official: broadband’s on its way to this forgotten corner of northern Minnesota. But while it warms my heart when I spy the electric coop workers out laying fiber optic cable along the road, when we really needed broadband was yesterday.

17 comments:

  1. When Jake and I were deciding where to live his input was, "I don't care as long as they have cable internet." Internet speed was his only request. I feel for you, growing up we only had dial up and it was awful. I'm excited for you to get broadband.

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  2. In my graduate classes (working towards certification in online instruction), we've discussed availability of quality internet/technology as a moral issue. I'm glad to hear the Arrowhead is getting broadband soon - not soon enough!

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  3. Samir!

    I'm so sad for you that you have to feel like Samir. It was one of our main priorities when choosing a home that it have reliable high-speed internet because of my hubby's business being almost entirely internet based and my (measly amount of) work also being dependent on the internet. No broadband= no contract.

    In other words: I TOTALLY GET YOUR FRUSTRATION!

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  4. ooooh, gosh... remembering the days of dial up!! We take our modern conveniences for granted sometimes.

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  5. I feel a bit better about my 40 dollar quest internet bill all of a sudden...

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  6. Just stopping by to check out your blog from the Sunday blog hop! Hope you can stop by and follow back! Have a great week!

    Diane
    http://www.turning-the-clock-back.blogspot.com

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  7. Oh, this is awful! Glad that virtual better days are ahead of you.
    TBH, even here in Manassas, so close to DC, I have not the speed I am used to in Europe. Upgrade not possible as the 'best' in delivery and price is ours already!
    Have a good Sunday!

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  8. Crucial! Hi! Just stopping by. Following you from the Say Hi Sunday Blog Hop. Would love it if you would visit and 'like' my page: www.facebook.com/flightlessgoose.

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  9. Saying hello via the blog hop - I really like your blog! I've been reading for a bit, and I'm enjoying your accounts of rural life. Thank you!

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  10. Ada.... you impress me wildly.... I do not think I could handle a broadband less world. I admit it---- I am pampered!

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  11. that puts living with time warner cable in a bit more perspective. i'll stop throwing hissy fits that i don't have fiber optics just yet.

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  12. Happy Sunday! I am a new follower from the blog hop and I look forward to following your blog!...Hope u can come by for a visit! http://adventuresatgreenacre.blogspot.com

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  13. I feel for ya. When Jeremy and I first moved in together, we had dial-up...those are dark days I don't want to go back to. It's sad that we've become so reliant on the internet. Even when our's is down for a couple of hours I go through severe withdrawals. Really makes me want to put this laptop down and go play outside.

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  14. There are days when I think how wonderful it would be to live in a little cabin in the midst of a forest and then I think of all the inconveniences and realize I would never make it. Enjoyed your post and feel for you, hope that broadband is up and running for you in the not too distant future.

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  15. I Sooooooon feel your pain! Living in the Caribbean, all I have for Internet is my wee iPhone with it's very limited 3G. When I can pick up wifi that time is consumed with downloading an audio book to knit by. I feel your pain sista!

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  16. Oh wow you are paying a fortune for the Internet. They have some crazy rules too. I was a little disappointed that our DSL was down about 4 hours the other day but that just seldom happens. I will think about your Internet the next time that happens and be thankful for our Internet provider.

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  17. That is SO crazy! Your post made me realize how much I take the internet for granted now. I've read about the internet in rural areas, but never a first-hand blogger's account of it. Thanks for the insight! ;)

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