The internet came in the mail.

the internet

It may not look like much, but this “Smart Hub” that Telus sent us has been life-changing. It has brought the internet to the Manse!

Regular readers will doubtless recall my various cris de coeur about our internet situation here at the Manse (and in Queensborough generally; the Manse is not alone in having internet issues). I’ve posted here and here and here (and probably elsewhere, but that’s enough for now) about how Raymond and I have had to rely on a very dodgy wireless Rogers signal via our mobile phones in order to have any connection at all with the internet. And of how the only solution that local internet-supplying folks could offer was to erect a fairly high pole at one extremity of the Manse property and stick a satellite dish on it and hope that the lovely tall trees in the vicinity would not get too much in the way of the possibly – possibly – adequate signal from one of the towers in the area. (I have learned of late that tall trees and internet signals are not a good mix. In the city, where we lived until last month, one of course doesn’t have to think about these things.)

Queensborough’s problem, internet-wise, is that it is in a valley. So while there are towers in our general area sending out wireless signals in the Xplornet network (a setup sponsored by the municipal governments of Eastern Ontario, which is very rural and, before Xplornet came into being, was not well-served with good internet), those signals are less than great when they get to Queensborough because of our lower elevation.

Bad internet was frustrating enough in the year and three-quarters that Raymond and I were weekend visitors at the Manse. Since we moved here permanently a few weeks ago, the frustration has frequently been off the charts. And while my inquiries about getting better service for our area through Xplornet were met with sympathy and an evident desire to help, the best that anyone connected with that project could offer was something along the lines of “We’ll try to get better service to Queensborough before too too too much longer.” It was pretty clear this was more likely to be years than months.

Argh.

But then something amazing happened. An internet miracle, really.

Here’s how it came about. A knowledgeable person suggested to me that I try the Big Three providers – Bell, Rogers and Telus – to see what they might be able to offer in the way of what’s called a Smart Hub. As far as I can gather, that’s a fancy name for a wireless router that gets a signal (if you’re lucky) from some tower or other and spreads internet through your home. Now, I know other people in Queensborough and area who have, or have had, a Smart Hub and are, or were, not happy with the internet that resulted. But I figured I had nothing to lose.

So I called Bell first – good old Ma Bell. The pleasant guy there asked for specifics on where we lived. And then, being honest (for which I give him full marks), said, “Well, I could send you a hub, but I don’t think it will work. Our towers don’t really reach that area.” My heart sank.

I was going to try Rogers next – not expecting much, because of the not-great Rogers signal on our mobile phones – but for whatever reason punched in the number for Telus instead. Telus is a company with which I had never had any dealings whatsoever, and I had never heard about them having towers around here, so I fully anticipated a brief and fruitless conversation.

But I hadn’t counted on Rohit.

Rohit, my Telus man somewhere on the other side of the planet, directed me to a spot on the Telus website that showed what kind of coverage was offered in our area. If the area was covered in green on that map, internet would be available, he said. And sure enough, the area all around Queensborough was coloured green.

“Rohit,” I said, “there’s no way. It won’t work.”

“It will work!” Rohit told me. And if it didn’t, he said, I could return the device – the Smart Hub – that he was about to have sent to me, and I wouldn’t owe any money. “But it will work!”

“Rohit,” I repeated, “I don’t think so.” But hey, it was worth a try.

Less than 48 hours after that phone conversation, a notice arrived in our mailbox at the Manse saying there was a package for us at the Madoc post office. It was the Smart Hub. I picked up the package a week ago tonight. But since neither Raymond nor I had the faintest hope that the Smart Hub would actually bring us internet, we didn’t race to set it up. Who needs a big disappointment on Friday night, the start of the weekend? Or Saturday night, when you’re in full enjoying-the-weekend mode?

But by Sunday night we figured we should give it a whirl, the better to get the thing packaged up Monday morning and sent back to Telus when the inevitable – failure to get internet – happened.

And something magical happened. It turned out that Rohit had not let me down. He was right. It worked!

People, since last Sunday night we have had internet. I can hardly believe I’m even typing those words. It is miraculous. Wonderful. The internet is a tiny bit slower than what we were used to in the big city, but really not so much as you’d even notice. It is stunning.

How Rohit and Telus have managed to send us this magical signal is a mystery. If there are Telus towers in this area, no one we’ve met knows anything about them. (Perhaps Albus Dumbledore is somehow involved.) Anyway, I don’t care how that signal gets here; I am just thrilled that it is here.

So: Queensborough people with internet woes, I heartily recommend giving Telus a little dingle.

Ask for Rohit. Tell him I sent you.

13 thoughts on “The internet came in the mail.

  1. I’m SO happy for you, Katherine! But that taste you got, however, brief, of Internet inequity in some rural areas was an eye-opener, no doubt. We don’t hear as much about that digital divide, but it’s real, as you now well know.

    • Ahh… But just think of the loss of all those windows of opportunity to put the laundry in, take something out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner, make the beds, run the vacuum around a room or two, dust, do your nails, HAND-WRITE a thank-you note (and much valued it was, too), iron a shirt or two, and so on… C’mon now, Katherine: is high-speed Internet really so great? (Said she who lived on dial-up in rural northern Ontario for nine agonizing years)

  2. Katherine, I, too, would like you private mailing address, too. And maybe Raymond’s while you’re at it as well. Of course, if either one or you or both do not want to do that, well, I accept that. Why? Well, I get lots of media stuff in my inbox, although it is possible that you may not want media stuff anymore. By the way, have you subscribed yourself to Fagstein so as not to miss out on Montreal media stuff, although admittedly Fagstein is a bit heavy on the broadcast media side.

  3. Sorry, to clarify, because I copied that first line from someone else’s comment … I mean of course that I would like your private e-mail addresses.

    • Not sure how it comes to us, Pauline – we just put the box in the window, plugged it in, and the signal magically arrived. I almost don’t want to know how it gets here (though if Albus Dumbledore were involved, that would be cool) – I just thank my lucky stars that it does!

  4. The various, “hub” iterations are served by Bell, Rogers or in your case, Telus on high speed cell networks. Rogers has always had limited coverage here with Bell and Telus providing the best reception. I had a Bell Turbo Hub prior to switching over to Xplornet. The main problem with, “Hubs”, is the bandwidth limit. Bandwidth is priced on a scale of use so the more UTubes the higher the price. Be careful how you use it. Legend on the web says that one fellow paid over $10,000 to Bell after his children downloaded several movies.That said the services provided are still better than dial up.

    • That’s good advice, Dave – thank you! After I saw your comment I downloaded the Telus app that tells you how much you’ve used as the month goes on, and I will certainly keep an eye on that. From what the Telus folks have told me I think it is likely we won’t go over their $85-a-month charge for up to 10 GB – but that is still $35 a month more than we were paying for unlimited and faster internet in Montreal. I am beginning to realize that it’s a lot of expense and trouble to have good internet in rural Ontario! But I am still so thankful to have it at all.

      • We pay 60.00 5gb monthly and we have never had a problem. Explornet satellite. We have found it only disrupts when we get a storm but we still receive. I have never experienced a problem unless it is due to Hydro 1. We love it. But maybe you need more because you have more important use for it. It suits us fine 😉 We have had the grand kids over all day and watched tons of movies. 😉

      • Hey mk, I am sure we do not have a more important use for the internet than you do – everyone’s use is important! – but for sure we use it for a lot of different things, on different devices. It is reassuring to hear that you get good and reliable service with Xplornet satellite – depending on how this hub thing works out (and how much it costs) we might well go there too, though at the moment all seems to be well. Meantime, I have to say it sounds so fun and cozy for you, having your grandchildren and watching movies and having a grand old time in your historic home in quiet, historic little Queensborough!

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