Wireless: It’s Quickly Cutting Your Cords

Wireless - cut the cablesIt could be a commercial on daytime TV:

“Do you, or someone you know, live in an area that does not have high-speed Internet available?…”

According to a study in February 2011 by the NYTimes, 40% of US residence in rural America do not have access to a broadband connection. That’s a staggering amount of citizens that are missing out on the largest source of information and education in the history of man.

I speak with these unfortunate souls quite a bit, as our company still sells quite a few dial-up connections. We’ve developed technology to help dial-up download information faster, and it still does a decent job of checking email or browsing a few websites, but in the end it leaves most disappointed. Users want to use the Internet to watch their TV programs, listen to music, download games, connect multiple computers, use tablets, take on-line classes, check out videos about kittens doing something hilarious…things that a slow connection simply can’t handle. Conversations with people stuck in the slow lane often follow the course of “Well, the phone company said we should have DSL available next year.”, or “The local cable company is supposed to be running service through my area in the next few years.” I kind of grit my teeth when hope is mentioned, because I doubt help is on the way: if you don’t have lines laid for high-speed Internet by now, you most likely never will.

Infrastructure is expensive, and the data it carries is cheap. Expensive networks with low profit margins mean a certain population density is needed to make a service worth providing. Since the United States is relatively huge, our population tends to be more spread out. DSL and cable have a certain range, and if you’re beyond that range a new facility is needed to broadcast a signal. In order to make a couple of bucks from a connection, a provider will need a customer density of…I don’t know…let’s say 30 people per mile. Many rural areas may only have 8 people per mile, meaning providers would lose a huge amount of money in expanding to that area. Now, imagine if they had to expand in 50,000 other places, and you’ll quickly understand why a lot of farms and mountain dwellers are never going to be updating Facebook on a wired broadband connection.

What is needed is a way to provide high speeds without expensive infrastructure…and we are actually able to do that. 3G and 4G wireless connections give you fast access without the need for a physical line. You use a small wireless receiver that catches a signal from a cell phone tower, and poof! You’re in business.

Wireless carries so many advantages over wired connections that many view it as the future of Internet connectivity. Cell phone towers are relatively cheap to install, and one tower can cover a large area. Phone companies caught on to this some time ago, focusing on wireless expansion and leaving land-lines by the wayside. Some are even dropping their land-lines all together. Sprint is putting serious cash (that they may not have) into making sure 3/4G service is available in 260 new areas by the end of 2013. Growing pains aside, in one form or another, wireless is most likely the method you’ll be using to get to the Internet in the coming years. Before you get all weepy thinking “Awwww…they did this just for me!”, the main reason for it isn’t to offer service in dead areas. It has to do with trends.

The desktop computer is dead. Other than a few niche groups, nobody likes being chained to a desk using a big, bulky, power-hungry PC anymore. It’s a hold-over from the 1980’s that is at the end of its day. Users want freedom! The explosion of tablets, smartphones, and notebook sales demonstrates that, and the technology is finally available that allows for easy mobility. Most of these devices now have some form of wireless built-in, and all of them need a provider. Customers waiting in line to buy service for their mobile device is why providers are scrambling to cover as much area as possible.

So ye poor dial-up users, fret not, for help is on the way. Although you are not the intended target, you will soon be able to reap the benefits. Investing in scissor manufacturers may be a wise move because there’s about to be a lot of cable cutting going on. You might as well profit from it.

14 thoughts on “Wireless: It’s Quickly Cutting Your Cords

  1. Just let me know when you get your upgraded Wifi, so I can run 2 computers and download an e-reader at the same time. I’m sooooooo tired of slow download. I talked to some one mid- summer and they said you would have have affordable wi-fi come late summer early Fall??? I’m waiting!!!

  2. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify investments.
    (I’m one of those “unfortunate souls” with dial-up LOL)

    Haven’t watched TV, for 12 years.. ( I grew up with it, from small, round, black and white tubes in wood cabinets) Books, radio, and the parts of the net that don’t need high-speed connect,
    are fine for this old “unfortunate soul”.

    Most of the new tech is designed to prevent homebrew. Like cars, made to keep people from
    taking care of themselves and their own needs.

    I prefer to think about where I’m going, not how fast I can get there.

    1. I don’t need a car that parks itself but i don’t go to the store in a horse and buggy either. You either learn to go ahead with the times or stagnate and we all know what happens to stagnant water, gets pretty nasty !!! don’t need to most recent, but have to upgrade eventually!!

      1. Don’t use a horse and buggy; and, work on my car, myself. “Going ahead with the times” depends on whose times one goes along. Still water need not be stagnant.

        Words like “upgrade”, “progress”, “new”, and others, are over-used. World’s oldest profession is marketing. Technology must be made to fit the human use. Not everyone finds instant living as satisfactory. If portable technologies are inter-active adjuncts to desktops, flexibility is not lost. Long hours keying or typing at a laptop or using portable devices is like living doing business while in the worst seat on a crowded bus, without heat or air conditioning. Humans need good, often private, even secluded places to work.

        I love flash drives. Digital cams. I have a cellphone. As a sci-fi fan when that was very unpopular ( you’d have to know the history to know how very unpopular we “space cadets” really were) I was thinking future before it happened. Given grief for it, too.

        Large numbers of people make large mistakes, as well.

      2. Hi Irene … Is anyone thinking about affordability? I grew up to be a fixed income senior. I’d love to have highspeed but dialup is all I can afford. Costs running off the charts kinda reminds me of medical costs!

        1. Patty I was told by someone at Toast net that it would probably be soemwhere between 35 to 45 dollars, subtract the $16 dial up fee and i could go for wi-fi. if toast net makes it too expensive I’ll stay a dial up use unfortunately : (

  3. Much to be said for C J’s comments. My “cave” features a decrepit IBM ThinkCentre (plucked from the junkpile & gently refurbished) with a wireless adapter tuned to a wireless router that’s attached to a wireless (3G? Unused bandwidth purchased from a satellite system?) ISP. I like the ability to check my stuff in a quiet, unrushed fashion.

    I live in SW Indiana about 300 yards from an AT&T tower. I can’t get AT&T highspeed, broadband, DSL or anything from them (I’m an AT&T landline & cell customer, by the way!) beyond an expensive dialup package & it’s a little frustrating. I keep my Toast.net dialup as a backup. Whenever we have storms, our satellite TV & Internet both crash. More often than not, our phone landline is still functioning. That & a fresh battery in my laptop (along with a “dumbphone”) have been my window into the real world on too many occasions…

    Pleasure to have read your comments. I don’t think that I added much to the conversation but I appreciate the opportunity to express my side of it. Peace to all!

    1. Dave, You’re my kind of guy. (my condolences). My scanner/copier/printer is from a dumpster. Most of what I own is stuff people threw out as trash; and, I fixed or altered it.
      There are blogs, pages, sites by people who do all kinds of interesting things. Most are in some computer technology work. I’m not.

      I live in a basement apartment of a building built in 1939. As a hobby, I fix things. Remember “skeleton keys” (warded locks) ? My closet doors have those kind of locks. No reason. Fun.
      I’ve no “real” furniture. Everything is pvc shelving, or fold-up. Furniture is just platforms and containers. I’m sitting on a 1959 Cosco-Hamilton gate-fold chair.

      You probably already know the problem you explained is not unusual. Except on Tuesdays.

      1. Thanks for the kind words but I don’t qualify for the blogs that you mentioned as I don’t do interesting things. I like living under the radar.

        I, as well, am not involved in computer technology but I merely tinker. Anything I’ve learned about computers has been via the College of Hard Knocks. Some days there were knocks, some days there were viruses. Oh well…

        I grew up in a house with a coal stoker furnace & “warded locks” on our doors. Amazing what a piece of chewing gum could do to those…

        Again, thanks for the kindness. I wish you peace of mind & good fortune.

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