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Diary of a Transplant: Internet At Last!

This week, upstater and writer Larissa Phillips, herself an ex-Brooklynite, expounds on what continues to be a big conundrum in many parts of Upstate New York: Internet access.

diary.satellie

And just like that our problems were solved.

I blogged a couple years ago about our internet woes. We are in a tiny pocket of limited internet service, like a terrible Bermuda triangle of slow communication.

Consider our options, or lack thereof:

No DSL. The only phone company that serves our little triangle is Verizon, and they don’t offer DSL to us.

No Cable. The cable company said it would cost either $8000 or  $11,000 to lay a cable to our house.

No Local Service. Con-Tel, the little local communications company that serves most of our nearby friends with such a lovely mix of country charm, low prices, and high speed internet that the mere mention of Con-Tel causes them all to launch into sweet stories about late fees revoked and helpful customer service? Con-Tel stops a couple miles short of us, and has “no plans to expand to your area”.

What we’ve lived with: limited satellite service which was likened — by the satellite company itself – to a scooter on a highway of race cars.

I was such a city-transplant-rube when we were first arrived up here that I actually thought it would be sweet to have limited internet. We’ll just rent movies! And we won’t waste time on the internet!

I wasn’t thinking about online courses for our homeschooled kid. Forget Coursera or Khan Academy, or the videos my son’s physics teacher posted for him to watch.

Or watching videos on Facebook. Or uploading photos for blogging. Or streaming political events.

Our internet was always slow, but then we would exceed our allotted bandwidth and go into the penalty phase for a couple weeks, during which time we couldn’t load bank pages to make payments, or the Amtrak site to reserve train seats, or the library to do 11th hour renewals, or Netflix to revise our queue.

It was a nightmare. I actually considered getting a bank loan to get the cable laid.

And just like that, it changed. We still have satellite service, but a new satellite went up, a new company pitched us, and our lives have changed. “Wow, that’s a piece of crap,” the internet guy from the new company said, when he saw the tiny satellite receiver we’d been using. Within a couple of hours he’d transformed our lives with a larger satellite dish and a new contract. (Not nearly as large at the one pictured above, however!)

We can upload photos. We can load bank statements. We can do classes on Coursera.

We streamed five episodes of “Breaking Bad”, first season. That’s how bad it was; we hadn’t even watched “Breaking Bad”. But we are catching up, world. We are back in modern times!

photo: Simon Harrod

Category: upstate new york

By: larissa | 31 October 2013 12:00 PM | 5 Comments

5 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    What is the company???

  2. Larissa says:

    It’s Hughesnet, which lots of our neighbors already had, but apparently they have a new satellite tower.

  3. Kim says:

    We heard a lot of bad things about Hughesnet when we first go our place, so we opted to go without internet for a year. But then we heard that WildBlue and a company called Exede had a new satellite that was faster and more reliable. We signed up and generally have been pretty happy with them. One thing that is better for us as weekenders is that the Wildblue accounts do monthly limits (all satellite companies have limits on the amount you can download) rather than daily limits like Hughesnet. We could easily run over our limit during a day on a weekend, but if we have the whole month’s worth of data for the weekends that we are here, it works better for us. We’ve also heard that the new Hughes service is much better than it was before.

    New York needs to learn from states like Vermont that really support rural WIRED broadband. It’s a huge detriment to a community to not be able to connect to the internet for many economic reasons: jobs, school and information.

  4. KC says:

    can you tell me what county you are in? i am in southern columbia county, and your story is exactly what we’ve experienced.

  5. Larissa says:

    Kim, we started with Wildblue, and then we had Dish. Hughesnet didn’t have anything better to offer us. Now suddenly they do.
    For us, the monthly limits were nightmarish, because they took so long to resettle. A couple weeks, usually, with almost-shutdown internet. But for weekenders, I could see how it would work well.
    KC, We’re in Greene County, just across the river.

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