It was exactly ten years ago this week when I wrote my first article for this column. It was entitled, ‘Surfing the Information Dirt Road.’ I wrote it because, although I am half a kilometre from the Rogers Station, they did not lay cable on my road, so my only option for internet was dial-up.
One day, without any warning, it happened. A satellite was launched, and after a few calls, a dish soon appeared on my roof. At last, I was part of the ‘in’ crowd. Only $70 a month, and I was downloading text, websites and yes, even photographs, all at the supersonic speed of eight or nine Megabits per second.
Somehow, technology moved ahead yet again, and my speed became too slow. I could easily upgrade to the higher package, which would increase my speed, but, hey, enough is enough.
Fortunately, our public library had wireless, and I discretely hid behind trees on Sunday mornings, doing my work. The stress, however, was too much for me, so I bit the bullet and signed up for the upgraded package. I was quite amazed at the new speed flowing into my PC. A whopping 20 Megabytes per second (MBS). Life was amazing.
Then came Netflix, Prime, Britbox and the like, and suddenly I was staring at the spinning wheel during a movie. The average two-hour film would take three hours to watch, as long as I turned my Nest cams off. There was no alternative, so I lived with it for five years, with a usage cap.
Then, one day, two years ago, it happened. Elon Musk sent me an email. “Hey Jon, it’s Elon. I have launched Starlink, just for you.” Well, it was not quite that personal, but a new network of baseball-sized satellites – 11,000 of them – was being launched around the globe. Internet in rural areas at decent speeds and cost-effective prices.
I immediately added my name to the list, but the wait time was two years. Last week, however, I received an email, stating it was my turn and my dish would arrive soon. Yesterday it was delivered, and now I have to figure out how to set it up. Download speeds of 70-80 MBS, no limit to data, and an affordable price; you can appreciate how excited I am.
It is still not the 200-300 MBS people in town are getting, but it will do me for quite a while. The best thing is, as more satellites are being added, my speed will increase. Who knows, once I have it up and running, I too may be one of the millions of people who take the internet for granted. I will let you know next week how easy it is to install and if, in fact, it works. Stay tuned, as I may soon be surfing the information highway.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.