Surfing The Information Dirtroad

It has been nearly twenty years since the Internet made it's way into our homes and phrases such as the 'Information highway' and 'surfing the net' have become household expressions. It is, however, time that I voice my opinion on behalf of that silent minority who, because we live in the country, are forced to surf the information dirt road.

Twenty years ago, when the word Internet sounded like a tennis term, I moved away from the city to enjoy the peace and tranquility of country life. I had no idea what technology had in store for me, but after lengthy discussions with the cable company (whose office is less than a kilometer from my house) it was clear there would be no cable stretched along my road (it was a cost thing).

All seemed unobjectionable as information flew through the telephone lines surging into my Commodore 64 and its massive 20 megabyte hard drive when suddenly, faster connection speeds were becoming available everywhere except on my dirt road.

Then 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 supersonic speed.

Somehow, technology moved ahead yet again and my speed became too slow. I could easily upgrade to the $145 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 and I bit the bullet and signed up for the upgraded package. I was quite amazed at the new speed flowing into my PC (I had upgraded my Commodore to the IBM world).

There were still speed limitations and when my friends talked about downloading movies I desperately tried to change the subject. Suddenly, out of the blue, I received a pleasant call from the red Internet provider with a message that would end all my problems. Yes, my friends, the 'Stick' had been invented. Only $30 a month, and I would be surfing at lighting speed. Two days later the 'stick' arrived in the mail and I anxiously plugged it in. Presto... nothing happened!

My house, located in the internet valley of death, was out of range. I hung my head in dispair, but not for long, as the next day the blue internet company called to say they too had a 'stick'. Desperate for high speed I hesitatingly told them to send it on down.

The stick arrived and hesitantly I plugged it in. it worked! I was near tears and immediately telephoned the dish company to cancel my subscription. Then it happened. I learned about the 'three year contract'. Not knowing what to do I decided to keep them both, because, after all, I now had high speed.

Someone once said, 'If it's too good to be true, it is.' Two weeks later a bill for my ‘Turbo Stick’ arrived showing a total of $300 for my first month of use. I was pleasantly told my 'Flex plan' was not flexible enough and I was immediately switched to the unlimited plan... for only $90 a month. I was extremely grateful, even though with my satellite I was paying $245 a month for Internet (I always thank Police officers for handing me speeding tickets, as well).

All was going well, until a letter arrived from the blue Internet company explaining that I had used 30 gigabytes of something-or-other. Knowing my consumerial rights I immediately telephoned them and smugly explained that I was on the 'Unlimited' plan. After a moment of silence I was told that 'unlimited' meant 5 gigabytes.

No way would the bureaucracy get the better of me and I pursued the situation all the way to the ombudsman's office. All in was asking for was an explanation of the word 'unlimited'. I was told my request was logical and someone would get back to me shortly. That was two years ago and my stick is still humming along. I have since explored 'direct line of sight' connections and have talked to the new cable company in our area. They would gladly run cable along our road, but I would have to bear the $22,000 cost.

Fortunately my three year satellite contract expires soon and my cost will drop. I still have limitations, simply turn a deaf ear when my friends talk about Netflix and Newsleecher for my knees are chaffed from crawling along the information dirt road outside of my house.

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