Well, the cows were not actually hogging the wi-fi out in the field checking their social media accounts. Actually, they were streaming Netflix.
Okay, not really. It rained and my internet went out. Yes, that happened. And it happens often. AT&T techs came out and discovered, among other things, that cows, my neighbor’s cows, had pushed over one of their boxes. Hilarity ensues.
I’ve had a draft written for months titled The Downward Spiral of Rural Tech. The problem in my rural area with phone lines is exactly what happened yesterday. The tech’s are not much different than farmers in that they are often forced to tie things up with baling wire and duck tape and hope for the best because of lack of funds.
I seem to remember reading it costs around $20,000 to run one mile of fiber for DSL service. No, we don’t have cable where I live. Maintaining an antiquated system while cattle and the county mowing crew are working against you is difficult. The capitalistic desire to make improvements on the line is reduced when more people cancel their landlines and switch to cellphones exclusively. And there are some people, crazy people, that don’t even want internet access. Copper wires can only handle so much bandwidth, which means only so many people can get internet access, and this is stretched by lowering internet speeds. I top out at 2.86 while high-speed internet today is defined at a speed of 25 as a minimum.
What about satellite internet? I’ve had it. It goes out in the rain, too. You also have bandwidth caps which makes even moderate streaming unfeasible. If you were not one of the lucky ones to sign up for DSL when it was first offered here then it is your only choice.
Tennessee recently passed the Rural Broadband Act which is meant to address these problems. It gives grants to electric cooperatives and others to get high-speed internet to the less populated and profitable areas. Fingers crossed it happens soon. The other rumor I’ve heard is about wireless technology bringing phone and the internet to your house. This would not be the current hotspots made available. It would require a permanent antenna mounted to your house that would receive a phone and internet connection of 10mbps. The phone companies could then eliminate needing to maintain or install copper and fiber lines to your house. I imagine it would be using a different part of the spectrum than cell phones. Of course, I wonder if this would also include bandwidth caps like satellite.
Until then, I’ll hope for no rain when I need to be online and that all the cows behave themselves. Wish me luck!