The Holy Grail of Rural Internet
Let me start by saying that I live in Calgary - hardly rural, and rarely short of Internet high speed options. Yet the property we bought two years ago, north of Powell River, at the end of the Okeover Inlet, is far from any Internet connection, let alone a telephone at this point.
With 3 years left on our 5 year plan, it's a struggle to get time to move quickly, hard to see the end in sight for our full time move out to our property. Right now we do our best to keep in touch with Powell River. It happens mainly by frequent phone calls to my brother and future neighbor, Martin Mitchinson, working on a joint micro-hydro application, and waiting patiently for the weekly subscription to the Powell River Peak to show up in my email box.
It was in an October Peak article that I first heard about Peter Parlevliet's work to get a committee together to look at rural internet options. I jumped at the chance to join just keep on top of any developments. After Peter setup a Google Group for this interest group, the meeting minutes and emails showed many first-hand horror stories of slow and sporadic dialup connections. So many residents in Lund, Powell River A and Powell River C had no apparent options for high speed Internet access - much like our co-op and neighbors in Okeover Inlet.
So now, I'm staying overnight in Comox, waiting to head out for the 6:30 am ferry to Powell River. The morning is slated to go over our micro-hydro group application, but I'm also looking at investigating options for high-speed Internet in the Powell River areas.
Armed with a couple of "3G Internet Sticks", one from Telus, another from Bell, a high gain antenna, and some enthusiastic customer service rep opinions, I'm hoping I'll find a suitable alternative to what's out there now.
The two "sticks' I'm looking at are the Novatel Wireless U998 from Bell Mobility and the Sierra Wireless Compass 597 from Telus, picked up used from Kijiji for $50.
Stay tuned for test results. I plan to document success and failure from these sticks recording as many tests as I can - noting location, download speed and upload speed. I'm using the Telus one right now in Comox - they have an unlimited usage promo on right now.