04 Mar Using the Internet: How I Roll
While I love the daily hustle and bustle of city life, I have chosen to live in a rural area so that I can return home every evening to peace, quiet and open space. This lifestyle has many advantages, but one big drawback is that I have limited choices for high speed ISPs (Internet Service Providers).
Twelve years ago, I used dial-up. Ten years ago, DSL was installed about three miles away, at the front of our subdivision. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for our installation. But they never made it past the entrance of our subdivision, so the rest of the neighbors were left to fend for themselves. And in my desperation to find something faster than dial-up, I discovered satellite.
I started with a company called Starband. This lasted for roughly two years, until I got tired of software glitches and dropped signals. The next go ‘round with satellite was with HughesNet.
This is what life is like.
We were given a 250 MB daily download allowance. You don’t realize how small that is until Windows needs to do a security update or your Mac has multiple updates. Once you exceed your daily limit, you go into penalty mode. Your page uploads s l o w d o w n t o a c r a w l. The Internet speed slows down so much that it’s pointless to even be online, so you just quit.
But wait! You can buy your way out of penalty time! For $5, you can purchase a token that will give you their normal Internet speed until the next time you exceed your limit.
Don’t like the limit? HughesNet’s answer is to upgrade. At the time, I was paying $65 per month (no bundle, just the Internet), so I really didn’t feel like upgrading to a package that would’ve cost me close to $100 per month with taxes and fees.
OR, I could do penalty-free updates and downloads between 2 and 6 AM. So every Thursday morning (I had a breakfast meeting that day), I’d go straight to my Mac after waking up and start the software update downloads so they could finish before 6 AM. Fun times!
There were no other ISP options, so we just learned to live this way.
Then about five years ago, Internet America entered the picture. They placed an antenna on a water tower about eight miles from us, and some folks within our neighborhood reported outstanding service. So I called them up to do an install. I would only have to pay if it worked, so there was no risk. I spent an hour on the roof with the technician. I held his laptop and watched the signal while he incrementally moved in a circle with the antenna, trying to find the best signal. Alas, we lived in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts, and we could not use their service.
This same Bermuda Triangle also blocks cell phone signals, so nobody has cell service in and around our home. Which is why I don’t text. (This will be another post.)
So we still have HughesNet today. They do have a new program where if you don’t use your entire download allowance, it gets rolled over to the next day for a certain number of weeks. We can’t stream Netflix because our connection is too slow. During the 2012 Summer Olympics, we tried to watch the re-cap videos of women’s soccer, but it took 13 minutes to watch the five-minute recap. <<Buffering>> <<Buffering>> We tried to watch a flip video of my little nephews, but it would only play about 10 seconds before quitting and <<buffering>> for eternity.
So, whenever I have to take an online class or have a large download (video) or upload (large files to the CPA or Copyright Office), I have to plan my day around which Internet source in town I can use to do what I need. To sum it up, it’s a pain in the a$$ to not be able to watch, download and upload like normal folks, but I also realize that if this is our biggest problem, life is grand.
I’m writing this post not to air my gripes publicly, but so that I don’t have to keep explaining my situation to people who don’t understand why they can’t just shoot me a huge file or video and have me watch it the same day. So if you’re reading this because I sent you the link, now you know why….
I thank you for your patience.