Internet has always been a topic of interest in my household as I’ve grown up. Well, it has been for the kids anyway. You see our predicament is not rare. However I can understand that it may seem preposterous and my fellow Y generation, Internet craving peers. Here in Wollongong and along this coast the majority of people will never encounter this problem. But approximately 600kms from here, the struggle is real and common. I live (when not a university) on a farm 30 kms from the nearest town in central NSW. One could say we are in a bit of pickle, as we live too far out of town to get mobile service from towers. We also live too far out of town for any sort of cable Internet. This leaves us with one option to connect to the Internet; not-so-trusty old satellite.
Similar to previous weeks, I returned to my family home to ask questions relating to our technological experiences, this time about internet.
“What kind of connection do you have? What kind of plan? How many devices do you use/are on this plan?”
We can only get satellite.
*after digging through files*
We are on a Bordernet plan of $55 a month for 30 GB. We have the home computer and my laptop, and the kids laptops when they come home. Oh and my phone is connected to wifi now! I can connect to imessage now so I can text without service.
“Where do you use the internet most? Or where do you never use it? Do you have any sacred spaces or times when it is not allowed?”
Well we originally had the home computer in the computer room (aptly named). Now that I have the laptop it mainly stays out in the living area so we can use it in the mornings/evening and still watch the news etc. We don’t bring it or our phones into the bedroom or bathroom. Mainly we are all polite about being on our devices but the certain no-go time is at dinner.
“Have you heard of the National Broadband Network (NBN)? If so would you like to get it?”
I think we are on it. Someone came out to our house. We are eligible as we are far out of town.
The interview with my mother quickly turned into a confusing debate, after she insisted we had NBN. I refuted, because according to my research (see below) NBN is literally hundreds of kilometres from reaching us.
I mean come on, LOOK AT THAT BARE CIRCLE SURROUNDING US.
(Source: NBN Check your address)
As it turns out, we were both correct. We are with the NBN through their Satellite Support Scheme (NSS) which “is designed to help increase availability of internet access for Australians in rural and remote locations who cannot access a commercial broadband internet service” (NBN, 2015) Pretty much, it is NBN’s solution for remote rural areas where installing and using fibre isn’t practical. So, through word of mouth my Mum discovered that we may be eligible (you can see the eligibility criteria here). The installation of equipment to receive satellite broadband is done by retail service providers such as ours, Bordernet (a full list of satellite providers can be found here). This installation and equipment is then fully subsidised by NBN Co.
This discovery led me to my next question which was not planned, I was purely curious. (For context, the easiest way to explain our internet speed is through youtube time. Say we want to watch a 2 minute youtube clip, we will have to leave it to load for anywhere between 5-20 minutes before we can watch it. So streaming is definitely not possible. Hell, I know.)
“Do you think our internet is slow?”
I don’t think it’s too bad. Compared to some people I think ours is quite decent. There are some people on the other side of town that can’t connect at all sometimes. All we need it for is online banking and checking the weather, maybe an odd youtube clip here or there. You kids use it a lot more than we do. It is a bit slower at night time when there is peak traffic. But over-all it works pretty well, I think we are quite fortunate.
I found it very interesting the differences in perceived internet quality between we children (my brothers agree) and our parents. However this may not be generational, or even a patient vs impatient scenario . It could simply be exposure. Between my mobile and wifi in Wollongong I have had a variety of access to fast internet (maybe disregard UOW or Freedom wifi), so obviously when I go home I will compare the two speeds
in agony. My parents have only ever had main access to the farms satellite internet, which they seem content with (to my dismay).
Although Australia’s internet speed is seen as embarrassing (which was also my view), this makes me think that perhaps we should sit back and be a little thankful that we have access to this amazing platform in the first place. Especially considering that 4.4 billion people across the globe still do not have internet. As the Washington post puts it, the World Wide Web isn’t all that worldwide.