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.