What Year Is It?!: The Hunt For Rural Internet Service

What Year Is It?!: The Hunt For Rural Internet Service

Tess Wilson
Oct 1, 2014

My mom and her parents grew up in the country, so according to her, progress tended to arrive a few decades after it did for her urban contemporaries. I've always found her low-tech stories charming, until I attempted to purchase prairie wifi...

Somebody please start a company called Prairie Wifi today— I will send you all my money. You can have various branches throughout the world: Forest Wifi, Plains Internet, Tundra Tech, Desert Digital Solutions. You can help all of us that live far from the wifi-rich world of cities, suburbs, and towns, and you can save us from having to deal with huge, clueless corporations and their assurances that, "Of course you'll get service out there."

It is Week 6 of our internet search, and I've spent approximately 5 hours on the phone with various companies. Four major companies offer satellite service, $70-80 a month, speeds of up to 5 mbps, and 5-10 GB a month data limits (?!). All require two year contracts, and all satellite options make us wary because our neighbors have had painfully slow internet connections ever since the trees got their leaves in the spring. The cutting-edge, mind-blowing technology that allows us to interact worldwide does not take leaves into account.

A local internet company assured me we could get line-of-sight service if we merely stacked a 20-foot satellite tower on top of our existing 30-foot tower, but oh, wait, it's still not tall enough to reach over the enormous and still-growing willow tree.

I thought I'd found a solution when Frontier told me I could get DSL internet, even way out here, for $29.99 per month, no contract, no data limit, glory-be. I quintuple checked on three different phone calls, emphasizing that we're way out the country and that our phone lines are very old. After all of that reassurance, I waited two weeks for someone to come activate our internet. Though my partner was completely skeptical we'd have usable internet speed, I remained optimistic until installation day, when the tech called to let me know that we were a mile outside of Frontier's range and that service was impossible.

THEN, Frontier casually mentioned that they offer satellite service as well (this never came up before), $64.99 per month, no data limit, 5 gbps download speed. Sign me up!, I said. No problem!, they said. We'll be there in 2 1/2 weeks! When I pleaded my case (I'd already waited two weeks for a service that doesn't exist), I was told my appointment would be expedited and installation would happen in just 5 short days. Nope, my appointment wasn't moved up nor was I notified about the delay. Finally, today, the morning of the originally scheduled installation arrived... and nobody showed.

I just want internet in 2014, please.

I realize that this is all terribly boring, but wanted to create a safe space where we could all tell our terribly boring, horribly frustrating, remote living tales of internet woe. This is one of those things that you take for granted when you live in populated areas, while the rest of us curse our trees for being so damn leafy. Tell your tales!

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