How to Survive with Rural Internet Technology

This week I’ve been going through the suburbs of hell trying to get, then keep, an internet connection. When you live in the boondocks your choices are limited and the services we do get are not as fast or stable as those in urban environments. For those of us not in, or on the edges of communities that run underground cable systems, we rely on the cellular system (3G) or satellite.

Let me backtrack. When I moved out here in 2001, I had one option for internet connection – dialup, which I used exclusively for the first two or three years I was here. I know people out here who STILL use dialup. Then I used the satellite service of Xplornet, but dumped it within two years, even buying out my contract, just to get rid of that painfully slow and unreliable load of frustration. I still have the giant dish in my garage, and I will soon take it to the dump.

Then for a couple of years I used the Bell Turbo stick, a small USB modem that travelled with me everywhere in Canada and served me well. In June of this year,  I “upgraded” to the Turbo Hub, a modem/router that sits on my desk and connects me to broadband through the 3G cellular network. The hub allows you to connect up to four devices through an ethernet cable or wifi, the latter useful for visitors that bring their laptops or smartphones. The hub was faster and cheaper than the Turbo stick, and I was saving $30 per month.

Tech

Above are all my ways of connecting to the internet: Turbo Hub, phone (for dialup), iPhone with “Personal Hotspot”.

Another factor in here was the research into whether to go with Bell or Rogers which are the main carriers. There are smaller ones but their towers are short and tiny and in my opinion useless. A company called Everus got a $4 Million county contract to bring highspeed to people in rural Grey County but they’ve gone bankrupt after failing to do their job. They put up a few small towers, charged people huge amounts to money to build towers in their yards and then give them mediocre service. As I said, they’ve gone bankrupt and there goes $4 million in taxpayer money down the drain.

I use an iPhone and chose to go with Rogers because at the time I bought it they had better coverage in my particular location. When I went to get a USB modem, I went with Bell because at the time they had better coverage here. Neither is great. As I write this, I’ve turned off the Bell Hub because it’s been dropping connection, and turned on my iPhone tethering system called “Personal Hotspot”.  It’s a godsend backup system to be able to use my iPhone as a modem.

iPhone as modem.

This past week I’ve spent no less than six hours either on the phone with Bell and Netgear (the makers of the Hub hardware) or driving to the Bell store in Owen Sound to try to figure out why my connection keeps dropping. Everybody has a different opinion: it’s the hardware; it’s not the hardware, it’s a faulty hub; it’s a fauly SIM card; it’s congestion, ie too many people using the system; it’s the location of the hub in the house, try moving it close to a window (that’s where it is already);  it’s faulty equipment at the tower (apparently bad weather can permanently affect it). I’ve re-booted, re-set, moved the hub around the house, used ethernet, used wifi, put in a new SIM card (which of course worked perfectly at the Bell store). Still, the hub is not working as it should. Tomorrow, another call to Bell to order a new hub which if I’m lucky will arrive in the mail next week. I’ll keep you posted… if I have an internet connection that is!

One Response to “How to Survive with Rural Internet Technology”

  1. Pam says:

    Ooooh, mega bummer!

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