The long and winding road
It has been nearly eight years since I started this column and decided to revisit the very first article, which I aptly called ‘Surfing the Information Dirt Road’. The story was about life in the rural annals of North Durham, regarding services, such as internet, television, etcetera. I fully understood that when I moved here, there was no such thing as internet, and although there are always issues with gravel roads, I did choose to live here. I was certainly expecting the powers to be would do something about communications for rural residences, hence my article from 2012. Shortly after I moved here, the internet was invented, and information roared through the telephone lines at a mega speed of 9 Mega Bits per Second (MBpS). My Commodore 64 would gobble it up and life was good. When I wrote the article in 2012, I was getting concerned, as speeds of communication were increasing rapidly, but nothing was happening in my area. I spoke to the local internet company, whose entire operation was less than half a kilometer from my house, but they said running cable along my road was not in the cards. Fortunately, a new satellite had been launched, and for only $70 a month I could download, upload, steam a little and even attach photographs to emails. All at mega speeds of 12 to 15 MBpS. Since that article, the world, and Durham Region, has gone crazy. We now have Netflix and Amazon, Acorn and Crave. Nest cams are protecting my home, and Google turns on my lights, tells me the weather and keeps me in the loop. Interestingly enough, internet in urban centers such as Uxbridge and Port Perry, are offering speeds of 500 MBpS with no limits, yet here I sit, only 10 km from the 407, half a kilometer from the cable company, with a satellite dish on my roof which sends signals at 25MBpS, on a good day, for a cost of $150 a month. Did I mention I am capped at 150 Gig per month, more than half of which is utilized by my security system? Netflix buffers while I’m watching, and I still have time for a coffee while pictures are downloading. I understand that businesses face challenges in an effort to maintain a profit, so maybe I should just accept the mediocre provision of services to the burbs. Maybe I can buy some wire and sneak out at night to the corner, and patch into the cable that runs along 21. Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, published author, award winning photographer and keynote speaker. Watch his new show ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show’ on YouTube and on The Standard News website.