Oh, big news today, people. Big news! What news, you ask? This: that there might be a glimmer of hope that Queensborough will get out of internet purgatory – or is it hell? – and be able to enjoy the same access to the proverbial information superhighway that most of the rest of the world (and I include in this remotest Africa) already has.
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this.
I have bored you dear readers (most of whom probably enjoy limitless high-speed internet at reasonable cost without even thinking about what a luxury it seems to those of us who don’t have it) many times before with the problems that Raymond and I, and other Queensborough residents, experience on the online front. (Want specifics, or a reminder? Some of my past posts on the topic are here and here and here and here.) When it comes to internet access, Queensborough people are in essence penalized because of the beautiful setting of our village: in a valley, with rocks and trees all around us. Because, you see, the valley thing means that the signals from the existing regional internet-signal towers don’t get to most of us. And trees mean foliage; and as one of the many internet customer-service people whom I’ve called up to complain told me recently, “Foliage is like concrete for signals. They just don’t go through.”
So here’s what happened today. In the middle of my busy workday, while I was editing some really fine student-written news stories and feeling quite thrilled at how well our team of budding reporters at Loyalist College Journalism is doing, a text arrived from Raymond:
WOW! Good news (I hope). Xplornet wants to put a tower up at 371 Declair Rd.
Well! You would probably have had to be here at the Manse one night about this time a month ago to understand how thrilled I was to hear this. That was the night when tears of rage and frustration were running down my cheeks because the slow-to-impossible internet, for which we are paying an arm and a leg, meant that it took close to four hours for me to put up a straightforward post here at Meanwhile, at the Manse about the gardens that would be on display during Historic Queensborough Day. I started in the early evening and, because it took hours to upload the photos (which would have zipped through in less than a minute in any normal internet situation), finished after midnight, long past my work-week bedtime. I was exhausted, frustrated, and mad as hades.
So what’s so exciting about a plan to put up an Xplornet tower on Declair Road? Well, I’ll tell you. Declair Road is located (despite the rather misleading “Tweed” address in the notice that Raymond had seen in one of the local papers, which you can see in the photo atop this post; Queensborough is in fact part of what I like to call the GTA, the Greater Tweed Area) just a couple of miles northeast of Queensborough. If a tower for Xplornet – an internet provider set up by local governments in Eastern Ontario (though it has now expanded to other parts of Canada) to bring service to rural areas – goes up there, it seems a reasonable assumption that its signals might actually beam down into Queensborough! I even venture to hope that this tower is being proposed precisely because the Xplornet people are aware – I know this thanks to a very helpful engineer with the operation telling me so last fall – that Queensborough is what they call “an underserved area” when it comes to the internet.
Now, you can bet your bottom dollar that I am going to be making some calls and doing some research on this. I don’t want my heart to be broken. I want to find out if this Declair Road tower will in fact make my life better, internet-wise. If it won’t – if it will only mean better internet for people outside the Queensborough valley – I will first despair, and then buck up and fight on. (Though of course I’ll be happy for those who will benefit from it.)
But I know there are others in Queensborough who are in much the same boat as Raymond and I are. Some of them are still having to rely on brutally slow dial-up internet. Some of them use Xplornet’s satellite service, and lose contact with said internet when there is snow. (Or rain. Or clouds. Or a hint of fog.) For some of them, including us, a wireless “hub” is the only option, and they pay a fortune for the slowest, most bare-bones service you can imagine. Streaming audio or video? Watching Netflix? You must be joking. Working from home through internet linkups? Not possible. It all makes me want to stamp my feet – as if I were again six years old, as I was once upon a time here at the Manse – and say, “It’s not fair!”
Ah, but that Declair Road tower might bring some internet. And some fairness. And that, people, would make me a happy, happy woman.
I’ll keep you posted.