“Tin Can Phones in a Digital World” or “Rural Broadband Infrastructure”


I love everything about living in a rural community, well, almost everything. The air is clean, the water doesn’t need filtration, the air is nature-smelling and the ocean waves are our lullaby. We have a large house, a significant block of land, and friendly neighbors along a quiet street. What’s not to love? While we do get five bars on our cellular service, there is insufficient population and local demand to justify broadband internet in the area. Period.

We have four choices, really. Do without, 54kbps Dial-up (Why, exactly, am I even listing this as a choice?!), Cellular internet and Xplorenet Satellite 3G (for now). Please allow me to discuss with you why some of these are viable, some are not, and while others are hideous to even consider.

1) No Internet

Cue hysterical laughter while rocking back and forth in the corner, drooling on myself.

2) Dial-up

No. That is all. I’m not medicated heavily enough for dial-up.

3) Cellular

The real challenge with 4G cellular high speed isn’t the fact that it’s unstable, quite the opposite! We are working with Bell Aliant’s MIFI system. It is a little palm-sized gadget that converts ethernet data into cellular and charges you accordingly. 15gb bandwidth for $105.00, and every additional GB of data costs an additional $10.00. Unless you’re a data pirate, an online gamer, youtube fanatic, compulsive researcher or something along those lines, you may never reach that bandwidth cap, but when Sarah and I both fit into several of those categories… our internet bills are regularly outrageous.

4) Satellite 4G

Enter: Xplorenet. These people don’t offer the “new” technology to my region, or anywhere this far north as far as I can tell. They only offer the “old” technology, which we need to buy used, since it not only unavailable from the company itself, but it isn’t even manufactured any longer. Wonderful. I spoke with a local computer store (if a 90 minute highway drive is local) and they won’t even offer the plans that the provider offers, they do their own thing that the sales department hasn’t even heard of. Either way, I would need a technician to install it for me ($250.00 up-front), then I need to pay for the one-time activation fees (first month’s bill is $411.00), and then pay for the exorbitant fees for the service, ranging from $64.99 for the lowest-end to $179.99 for the upper-end. Allow me to be clear, the internet available through fiber-op in our larger population centers are five times faster for a third the price.

I am told that new options for ISP’s (internet service providers) will be available near Christmas. That’s only 2-3 months before these offerings are made available… in the meantime we will continue to be price-gouged by our MIFI tech, and eagerly await the opportunity to fork over nearly a grand to get our satellite internet established. It’ll be a little cheaper than our current high-speed service, and will pay off the investment in as little as a year… but it’s a lot of money for a service that we should already be provided, living in a nation like Canada an a province that so desperately needs the incentive for people to stay in-house and not move to “The Mainland” to live like a human being in the first-world.

Ridiculous.

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