History of Rural Internet: Part 7

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Working from a Rural Home in 2020

Cindy McQueen

September has always felt like a new year to me with summer winding down and kids heading back to school. I have always felt a sense of excitement and I enjoy planning something new that I want to learn or revisiting my goals for the next few months. I also look forward to the local fall fairs happening throughout Grey County starting in late August and being held throughout the month of September. Seeing who has placed first in baking, floral, arts and crafts, photography, garden produce, bushels of grain, hay or straw bales, the tallest sunflower or longest zucchini is always fun. Quilts are arranged around the arena along with posters produced by students depicting safety on the farm. Outside the arena you can watch the 4H cattle and sheep shows, and the truck and tractor pulls draw a large audience. Plus (the best part) talking to people you haven’t seen in a very, very long time!

As the days get shorter and cooler, it isn’t as difficult to stay indoors and work. Speaking of working, I remembered something that happened 3 few years ago. I was working for a client who wanted to have short instructional videos on her website (pre-Covid when this was still relatively new). We were going to upload a 12 minute video to YouTube and then stream it onto her website. I started to upload the video and watched as the loader was calculating how long it was going to take… 1 hour… 3 hours…. 22 hours!  I left my computer alone and just kept watching the progress. Somehow the connection was lost and I had to start again. I checked the next morning, and it didn’t appear to be doing anything. Somehow the connection had been lost overnight and I had to upload it again. I decided to walk my client through the upload process over the phone and see if it was faster for her to upload the video than me. I explained what to do step by step and then said, “Now we just have to wait”. “No, it’s done!” she said. “Pardon? It’s done?? Are you sure?” I questioned. Something must have gone wrong, so I double checked. Sure enough, the video was uploaded to YouTube and ready to publish. What was going to take me 22 hours to upload was done in less than 1 minute. I was raised to follow the 10 commandments but right then and there I was breaking one…. I was coveting my neighbours high speed internet connection.

As published in Hello Country Magazine – September 2022 edition

History of the Internet – part 6

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Working from a Rural Home in the late 2010s

Summer is my favourite season by far. It’s now August and everyone is preparing for September, back to work and back to school. I wish summer would last as long as winter does here in Grey County.

Cindy McQueen

In the June issue of Hello Country, I left off writing about the Rocket Hub wireless internet. It was a small box that looked like a router and had it’s own cell number, which made it portable. It was working quite well and was fairly fast for working online. Of course, everything is relative, fast for rural internet in 2014 is a lot different than fast for cable internet. We didn’t have Netflix or any other streaming devices yet, so it was adequate for working online. I had a flex plan, the top rate was $90 for up to 20GB of data, overage charges were $10 per GB. It didn’t take long before I was incurring overage charges as my monthly usage was easily surpassing 20GB.  The highest I reached was 45GB in one month and that was when I switched to Xplornet. 

Xplornet was the only mobile tower that reached our corner of Grey Highlands at the time.  I hired a local installer who also happened to buy hay from us. We discovered our farmhouse was in a bit of a hollow and couldn’t pick up the signal from the closest internet tower located in the hamlet of McIntyre. Our technician was tech savvy and climbed onto the roof of another building located at the corner of our farm and installed a dish about 6 feet in the air. He then installed radio technology that sent the signal from a small dish at the side of the building, to a dish at the side of the farmhouse, which then plugged into a router inside. 

Our download speed was now roughly 5mb/s and we were thrilled! Over the years Xplornet has been pretty reliable, but whenever I have an issue, it does become a problem. While on the phone with support, I will have to drive over to the other building to unplug the wireless receiver to reset it, then race back to the farmhouse to see if it is working. It shows what lengths we will go to when we are determined to connect with the outside world.

As published in Hello Country Magazine – August 2022 edition