Limitis Infrastructure Week focused in part on how broadband is currently a problem for Americans. On Monday, we showed you a map Of the worst broadband communities in the U.S. – and on Friday we ended the week by showing how satellite services like Star link are not enough to close this gap.
But even for those people with a high-speed Internet connection, many of them have done desperate things to ensure access to the Internet. Our team lives all over the United States, and they’ve shared some personal stories below about their experiences of getting (or failing) high-speed Internet.
But we also want to know what lengths are gone to the Internet. Should you appeal to an reluctant ISP to distribute high-speed service to your area? Did you use the device unintentionally to connect to the Internet? Did you use smart workarounds to improve your Internet (or neighbor’s savings)? Share your story in the comments below.
When I returned from college one summer, I noticed that my mother had switched from a dial-up connection to a slightly faster RF-based Internet. Our back porch had a small container that showed the city’s grain elevators (the largest building in the area). The ISPs were just a couple of nice young guys who used cable lines to tie the Internet from the city center to grain elevators, where they then sent it out to people who were too far away to get DSL or cable. The internet was usually fine, but slowed down or stopped completely if interference occurred. Usually it was a bad storm or a heavy fog. The worst, however, was always when the hay fields between the grain elevator and my home were repaired. It would kick the dust and leave me completely on the internet. I had a very nice call World of Warcraft in cafes and diners in rural North Texas.
– Alex Cranz, CEO
The internet in my parents ’house (where I’ve spent a lot of the pandemic while working because my 200 square foot apartment isn’t an ideal office) is amazingly slow. This is a problem for me who scans laptops and especially gaming laptops because I have to constantly download things. Red Dead Redemption 2 it took almost four days to load into my parents ’internet drive, for example, and it prevented everything else so much that I had to find another solution. So I want to use this space to shout at Salisbury Parish Church, which has allowed me to bombard their holy internet with a pile of heavy charges several times this year. There is no experience that is more peaceful than spending a morning in an empty chapel, hearing the buzz of birds echoing through the windows and over the benches, feeling at peace with nature and God as you download the AAA game after the AAA game.
– Monica Chin, author
At a time when accessing data internationally cost a small fortune, a friend of mine is coming up with an ingenious solution to using a free 3G connection in his Kindle as a workaround. He spent his entire summer reading his e-reader with a built-in basic browser to download Google Maps and find his way. It was a painful process, and I don’t think he got anywhere particularly quickly, but it was better than having to pay the international roaming prices charged at the time.
– Jon Porter, news reporter
Because I’m a freelance video professional and need to download large files, my internet connection can be the difference between spending a day or spending a few minutes on a video. Unfortunately, living in NYC means I have almost only one option for the Internet over the old cable service (Spectrum). Like most cable providers, they offer reasonable download speeds, but strangle the download speed to the same low 30 Mbps in all their plans, and even then you rarely get the full 30 Mbps. I wanted a fiber-optic Internet connection because it offers modern bandwidth for downloads, but Verizon FiOS had little incentive to run its service in the pre-war building where I live in the Upper West Side. However, I was determined and went door to door for every occupant of the building to get enough signatures that showed interest in getting a fiber alternative to the Internet. After getting the majority of tenants to sign in and calling and writing to Verizon every week for almost six months, I managed to get them to coordinate with the landlord to install the service in our building. Now the average video, which takes several hours to download, can be put online in minutes. I can fix the problem or make a quick change to the video for the customer by allowing me to respond to customer requests that many other producers would not be able to handle. My download speed may be the real difference between getting the next job or not.
– Liam James, producer Decoder
I studied in mainland China when there were big collisions in college in the United States. So I spent half a year playing the ongoing mole game Tor and a series of sketches (but faster) of free web proxies with names and links running around my cohort as if we had shared passwords on a phone. I’m lucky I didn’t end up with any horrible malware, but on the bright side, it’s the only time I can imagine feeling cool and rebellious visiting Facebook.
– Adi Robertson, Senior Reporter
My family didn’t upgrade to a dial-up connection until 2012, which meant we didn’t have a Wi-Fi connection either. Of course, I’m not going to let it stop me from accessing the network, so I did what no preteen would do: I grabbed the PSP 2000 and wandered around my neighborhood looking for unprotected loads. I decided to find one of our right houses (hi neighbors!), And eagerly connected to it. Luckily, there was a tree in a perfectly perfect place where I was as close to their property as I could have been without the technical violation.
– Mitchell Clark, news writer
Dial-up was the only option as a teenager living on the outskirts of a small town in Ohio. We got the service through CompuServe, and it showed its limitations when I had to do almost anything other than use MySpace, Xanga, or GameFaqs for text-only game guides. I remember it took a week to load the 63MB trailer Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Kazaa. So it was completely inadequate to play online games like Gears of War On the Xbox 360 that all my friends were playing at the time.
To get something that could even be considered high speed internet in our house (I remember the speed is well below 500 kbps for download and download speeds), I had to repeatedly call and appeal to my local ISP to bring it home, about 20 miles from town. Eventually, it worked after a few months of perseverance. I got my way and was able to eventually playing synchronous multiplayer games online for the first time. Soon after, a stranger online Gears of War told me he was going to come to my house and kill me, so I stopped playing it altogether.
– Cameron Faulkner, author
My apartment has four rooms. Living room -> Kitchen -> Bathroom -> Bedroom. Thick concrete walls between each.
The router is in the living room. It cannot reach the bedroom reliably. If I leave the bedroom door completely open, I could maintain a consistent signal.
I know I have to buy an Eero or something, but I think a better model will come up soon.
So I bought a $ 30 Wi-Fi repeater and a long extension cord instead. I ran the cable from the kitchen outlet to the hallway (there are no outlets in the hallway) that leads to the bedroom. The cable is slightly tactically hidden around the door frame using a set of small nails designed to hang the picture frames and thread to hold the cable in place.
The Wi-Fi repeater is now hovering near the ceiling, in the middle of the router and the bedroom. If I connect to it, I get my bedroom AOL class speeds.
It has been there for 12 months. I never use it.
– Jake Kastrenakes, Senior Reporter