I am confused and frustrated.
We’ve had more offers to provide high-speed Internet in our part of the woods than a dog has fleas and yet — the ol’ dial-up still churns away, slowly and not-at-all surely, our only connection to cyberspace.
If I were to email a photo from my home in Black Pines to my office in town, I could drive 35 minutes to The Daily News and the picture wouldn’t have arrived yet.
Last spring, some provincial money was handed out for the installation of high-speed wireless Internet in the boonies, including Black Pines. Hopes soared. A company called ABC Communications is supposed to make it happen. We wait.
A few months ago, I got a call from Telus. More precisely, from Rose, who resides in the Philippines. She offered a pretty good deal if we’d switch from our TV service to Telus.
What about Internet, I asked. When is Telus going to add Internet to the rural package? There were plans, she said, but no timeline yet.
We chatted a couple of more times about TV, but just as I was getting ready to do some bargaining, she dropped me like yesterday’s newspaper.
Then there’s the ExplorNet satellite-dish option, which seemed complicated by the time I drilled holes and strung wires through the attic and fished them through the walls to the computer.
This week, the phone rang again. I didn’t catch her name, but she wanted to know if our household would be interested in Shaw Cable.
“I think we’re a little outside your service area,” I said.
Yes, she said, but Shaw is thinking about an expansion.
“We’re quite a ways off the road,” I said. “That’s a lot of cable.”
“There might be a $500 charge,” she said. But, she said, the new service would include Internet, TV and phone.
I indicated an interest pending details. Based on experience, I don’t expect to hear from her again any time soon.
First the federal Liberals, then the Conservatives, have been promising rural Internet connectivity for years. Jean Chretien promised every Canadian home would have access to high-speed by 2004.
“High-speed Internet for rural towns coming, MP McLeod promises,” read a headline in this newspaper just last week.
Right. So is the end of days.
Lots of promises, little action by the feds, the provincial Liberals, or the regional district, certainly not in my neck of the woods.
In this “i” age of apps and instant communication, dial-up is as current as eight-track tapes and hand-written letters. It’s so primitive that the federal government defines it as the equivalent of being “unserved” by Internet.
“Broadband Internet access is viewed as essential infrastructure for participating in today’s economy, as it enables citizens, businesses and institutions to access information, services and opportunities that could otherwise be out of reach,” says the Industry Canada website.
Yet governments at all levels seem content to treat rural residents as less than worthy.
Everybody sure talks a good game, though. To listen to the phone calls and read the headlines, you’d think there was a race to get the outback connected.
Truth is, the “Connecting Rural Canadians” program is a failure, surviving in little more than name.
At this point, if the Pony Express trotted through Black Pines and offered a reasonable monthly rate, I’m betting there’d be a crowd waving credit cards and signing up.