Rural Internet Sucks

In all the traveling I’ve done, as well as living and visiting Marshfield often, one thing I have found is the internet speeds suck in rural areas. When they talk about the “digital divide,” I have definitely experienced this firsthand.

I remember the first time broadband was offered where my parents live. Since they live about 8 miles from the Marshfield city limits, the area was deemed rural and they did not offer broadband until late 2006. Prior to that, all we had was dial up and it took forever to load pages. Doing any sort of video was out of the question and I had to be strategic about my downloads since they took forever and dial up also tied up the phone line.

When the broadband was installed in 2006, it seemed so limitless. I remember coming home from my late shift at the cheese factory, firing up the computer, and going, “Wow!” at how fast it was. I could watch YouTube! Downloads were quick! Everything just seemed amazing at that time.

Fast forward to today. It royally sucks! I get download speeds of 3mbs and upload speeds of 0.5mbs. When I try to upload anything, it completely kills the download speeds and pages load insanely slow. This means to upload multimedia to my blog, I have to be strategic again, because it’s almost impossible to use the internet while I am doing it.

As you can see by other blog entries, I am using my Garmin VIRB and also a 360-degree camera. I also bought an iPhone that takes awesome pictures, but those pictures are large in size. It is to the point, I actually found YouTube has a maximum upload duration of 11 hours before it times out and stops the video upload. With 0.5mbs upload speeds, you can’t really upload much, even in 11 hours.

Now if I were to move back to Marshfield and lived within the city limits, the best I can currently get is 100mbs down and 5mbs up. This would be tolerable, but it is still slow compared to what is available in Austin. Before I cancelled internet to do my no home internet experiment part 2, I had 200mbs down and 20mbs up. I could get 300mbs down and 20mbs up if I wanted and I know people in Austin who have gigabit (1000mbs down and up).

With that being said, when I broke my leg and had to work remotely for 3 months, I made do. My no home internet experiment is going to help me concentrate at my apartment while at the same time get me out of the apartment and start exploring Austin for locations with good WiFi. This will help me when I go on the road and I am posting from places with limited internet connectivity and speeds.

I wish rural areas would get better internet speeds. I do see a ton of potential in smaller cities like Marshfield being a good place for any sort of office worker to work remotely. The cost of living is dirt cheap compared to big cities and the quality of life is great, especially if you’re a tech worker with a high salary. All you need is a decent internet connection to enable you to work. My parent’s example is a bit extreme because they are in a very rural area, but there is definitely a digital divide. I do see an opportunity for innovation to close this gap, but faster speeds from the ISPs would also be nice. Until then, rural internet sucks!

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