It was exactly ten years ago this week 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 kilometer from the Rogers Station, they did not to lay cable on my road, so my only option for internet was a 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 8 or 9 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 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, its 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. 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.