A chemistry professor of mine used to offer up a fount of truisms and sayings, one of which that stuck with me was “Those who don’t know, don’t know that they don’t know, whereas those that know, know that they don’t know”. As I have gotten older, I continue to relearn how true this is, both with myself, and with other people.
I live in a rural area, which has several advantages. My nearest neighbor is about half a mile away, and the next nearest is a lot further than that. It isn’t quite as remote as living in Kansas (2.5 and 5 miles, respectively) but it is nicer here without having to drive 25 miles for a average steak. One of the things that is not nice is internet access. Over the course of the years I have used a separate phone line, satellite internet, DSL, Multiple DSL with a load balancing modem, Verizon HomeFusion (which was a joke) and finally my own wireless tower relay to bring 50Mb internet to my home office. I would not have said that “I didn’t know”, but getting significantly faster internet has opened up a new world. My Surface Pro 4 was misbehaving and so I tried blowing away the installation and reinstalling Win10 from scratch. So far, no further misbehavior, but it would have only have been possible with this sort of connection. My desktop machine is on Win10 Insider (Technical Preview), and instead of taking all night, this now updates in a matter of minutes. Ditto for flight updates for avionics. Even writing this blog is now much easier. Between me and Mrs Dr Thinking Engineer, our internet usage has tripled in a couple of months, and is still going up.
This was neither easy, or inexpensive. The cost per month is more than my house payment, and if I was not running an internet based business, I couldn’t justify it at all (justification is still a bit shaky, but there you go). On the other hand, I have started several new business ventures just on the strength of having this sort of connection. It makes me wonder why cities aren’t doing more about this. The mayor of the local municipality will spend time, effort and money on some quixotic wind farm that will generate “Millions of Dollars” without ever explaining how, and yet the one thing that he could do relatively simply to generate new business and tax income is something he hasn’t even thought of, put in a high speed internet system in town. It’s a relatively small town, it is entirely possible that you could hit 90% of it using wifi off the same tower I am using. If that gets 900 people, and 10% of them have an idea for a business and 2% of those make it, then that is 18 business and money coming into town that wasn’t there before. For the rest of the town, quality of life goes up, and their children have a leg up on the future.
It’s a lot of money. But it is already worth it, and we have had it a very short period of time.