Giddy at Our Little House
That’s the word my husband used to describe me last week when I was finally able to have DSL installed at Our Little House.
Before Thursday, it was that old dial tone, high screeching, low screeching, ultra slow dial up on which the Internet was born nearly 20 years ago.
Yes, we did know this was all that was available at Our Little House when we built more than 7 years ago. We also knew this was all that was still available when we moved here 4 years ago.
But I did figure that it would have to come, sooner rather than later. Besides, the small rural telephone company that owns a monopoly on the lines they installed in this part of Arkansas just 25 year ago, had been telling my aunt for 10 years that it would come “soon.”
I’ve been on the Internet since 1992, but to be honest, prior to last week, I’ve only ever had dial up (of course, I’ve had high speed in hotels when traveling to the big cities). By the time DSL was available even in our suburb of Kansas City, companies required a minimum two year contract and we knew we were moving, we just didn’t know when and I didn’t want to pay those fees to get out of my contract.
Anyway, when we left Kansas City, it was still possible to run my business on an ultraslow dial up connection.
How things have changed in just 4 years.
Today, I have to be able to attend webinars, view videos and post photos for slideshows and when I had to do these things, I had to go to McDonald’s in Mountain Home, 40 minutes away, to use their free wi-fi.
I had tried an AT&T air card here, but without an upgraded 3G-cell phone tower near us, it didn’t work well. Satellite didn’t seem like a viable option after hearing my other rural friends and neighbors complain about the spotty coverage and getting kicked off when they exceeded their maximum usage.
The DSL connection didn’t come easily. My aunt, who lives “next door” at ¼ mile away, moved here in 1999 and was on an ancient technology called ISDN (think of VHS vs. BETA tapes) and was the one remaining hold out who wouldn’t give it up to go back to dial up.
The phone company wanted her off of it, but she refused to go back to dial up. After telling us for years we were too far from the nearest DSL transfer station, they suddenly decided we weren’t. Of course, they just wanted her off of the ISDN.
“Yay!” She called me and told me the news. We both thought we could get it, since Our Little House is closer to the blacktop than hers.
Wrong. The telephone company tried to come up with every excuse in the book, including that it was coming in “from a different direction” than the blacktop, which is impossible, unless they’ve laid lines at the bottom of Bull Shoals Lake.
A manager finally conceded that it was costing them to run my aunt’s and they didn’t want to add Our Little House to that expense.
Too bad. I politely informed them that a public utility couldn’t pick and choose who received services, especially when they couldn’t prove it would cause the company a hardship to install that service. I told them to let their people in Little Rock know I would be filing a complaint with the FCC.
Magically, just as with my aunt, service was suddenly available at Our Little House.
So, what was the first thing I did when I went super-fast-compared-to-dial-up on my 256K DSL? Pay bills? Work?
Nope. I watched dancing and singing cat and dog videos and downloaded music all day.
That would be enough to make anyone Giddy.
Did you know that nearly 30 percent of Americans still do not have access to high speed Internet? Have you moved to a rural area or do you plan on it? Is this a concern for you?