I had thought to write about something else, but, this is more near and dear to my heart.
As some of you may know, President Trump announced he had signed an executive order expanding broadband to rural America on Monday. Imagine my surprise to discover rural America didn’t have broadband!!!!!!
As it turns out, the speeds necessary for “adequate service” is now 25mb or better. I didn’t know …… My daughter and her husband live in a town even smaller than the town I live in ….. they’re kicking it with about 100mb speeds. I’m not, though. I’m only getting 8, but, that’s only because I haven’t upgraded, yet. My ISP offers a much quicker package, I just haven’t had the time, nor, have seen the necessity to do it, yet. It’s on my agenda, though.
I guess, this is why I’m writing about this. You see, my ISP, well, other than the owner, a friend of mine, I’m probably most responible for the viability and expansion of the small company. And, ……. well, wait, here’s a quote from our POTUS in the announcement …..
“Those towers are going to go up, and you are going to have great, great, broadband,” Trump said on Monday during a speech for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Yeh….. sigh, that’s near and dear, too.
About 17 years ago, give or take a year, my wife had had enough of the crappy dial-up service our local phone company was providing to the rural residents. And, I was, too!!!!!! They were killing my Napster downloads!!!!!! So, we called the new upstart wireless service in the area. Nope, they couldn’t get to us from where they were. ‘Well, just put up an entenea up on the local grain bin!!!!!’ Well, only if they had enough requests …… that’s all my wife needed to hear. Two months later, we were rocking with speeds up to 1mb/s!!!!!! (Usually closer to 500kb/s) But, that was infinately better than the 25kb we did have!
Well, I changed jobs a couple of times and the house we were living in burnt down. I found myself being the only IT guy at a rural electric COOP. And, yes, I was still close enough to my ISP to keep the same ISP. So, fast forward about 8 years or so …..
It was right after Obama was elected and he was enacting his stimulus package ……. ….. the guy in charge of the COOP decided he wanted a new revenue stream and the feds were pushing hard with their great new idea to “get broadband to rural America”. That great idea surrounded itself with the idiocy of sending satelittes up into space and rural America would then have high-speed internet!!!!!!! Yea!!!! I strongly advised against it. It didn’t make any sense to me …… the bounce with satellites is too great to be suffienct for what was desired.
My worst fears were realized …….. we had hired a couple of guys to install the equipment at the homes of our customers and support the package. “Wild Blue” was the name of the company which was the beneficiary of our fed’s largess. The guys were paid well for the installations …… not so much for the support side of it, and the support side was a bit more complex than the installation. Guess what happened when we reached market saturation? The guys we hired left!!!! Guess who was then charged with supporting satellite internet? The biggest problem was that the company would sell speeds which, if were ever attained (they rarely were) the customers couldn’t enjoy it because of the limits on the data! A big Windows update sent all the customers over their data limits!
I once had to go to a high-rise appartment complex in a nearby small city. The customer lost his internet connection and couldn’t get it back. Our equipment was on the roof …… the only access was through a neighbors apartment above his …… where I had to get on their balconey with a step ladder and hoist myself on the roof of this 5 story appartement building. The problem was that part of the cabling went to crap ……… it was on the side of the building, just below the roof. The guy was a nice guy and really needed the internet for his job at the oil refinery. Sigh ……… okay, so, I’ll just stretch a bit and grab the cable …. there’s a connection just a bit out of reach ….. if I can get to it and pull it up a bit, then, I can get rid of the bad cabling and put some good cabling in place! It started to snow……. Now, I hate being cold. I really hate being cold. So, it’s time to get this crap done and get off of this roof!
I think, when I was hanging off the building while praying the coax cabling would hold me, after I slipped, and wondering if I could actually pull myself back onto the roof, that I decided I would go a little rogue and end my and the COOP’s association with Wild Blue.
Enter my ISP ……. I think I nearly doubled his customer base and his territory. You see, some of my duties entailed moving data from electric meters from the substations to the office. We did private radio frequency ….. but, if I could just piggy-back from an internet connection, that would be much better!
So, everytime we had connection problems at one substation or another, I’d tell the boss that we know a guy who could give us a stable connection! So, we’d help the ISP owner set up enteneas all over the countryside, thus, giving him greater coverage! Meanwhile, when the angry Wildblue customers would call, I’d come out to their house, give them my very best personal service, and tell them, I know a guy and he doesn’t have data limits (still doesn’t) and it’s faster!
I don’t know how many hundreds (thousands?) eventually went to my friend because of my efforts, but, in the end, the COOP gave away the reminents who wouldn’t change.
While all of that was happening, some jackwagon congressman from Nebraska called me (I can’t remember his name, he’s not there anymore) ….. it seems president Zero had alloted more money towards getting more “broadband” to the rural people of the country and we were going to launch a couple of more satellites and wanted me to embrace/support/sell such idiocy. …….. I told him it was a horrific waste of our money and that they shouldn’t spend money on outdated tech. I told him that if he really wanted to deliver high-speed internet to the rural parts of this nation that they should erect cellphone towers and let the cell companies bid on them. I told him that picking only a couple of companies to launch a satelitte for was pretty f’d up and that the American government shouldn’t be operating in such a manner, and, no true Repub would ever embrace such a notion. The COOP boss was from Nebraska ……. It wasn’t long that I wasn’t long with the company.
Well, I guess a few years and a few $billion later, the towers are going to go up, afterall.
I think, this is part of the reason why I find it so hard to write anymore. I’ve already said this stuff! And, now, I’m living through and saying stuff, not by writing, but, begging, preaching to management of a company I’m working for ….. You trip over stupid everyday, all day, the same stupid over and over again, and we won’t fix it. Eventually, someone will. But, we will have all lost our jobs by then. The knowledge and demonstration that you were right all along and could have saved/created countless jobs and unmeasurable wealth, years later, is small comfort.