Sunday 17 February 2013

Rural Internet

    As we finish walking our trail and are returning to our house, I often glance up to the spruce tree growing next to our house, and take a look at the square little antenna that is fastened high on trunk of the tree.
    This little square gadget is how we get our internet.  Our internet provider is located about 84 km (50 miles) away in the village of Valemount.  The internet signals are bounced back and forth on radio repeater towers situated on the tops of mountains.
    When we first decided to change from extremely slow, dial up internet, which came in on the phone line, and update, to a high speed system that used the radio waves, we had a problem.  The radio waves were “line of sight”, which meant that there couldn’t be any obstacle in the way, you had to be able to see the repeater on the mountain.
    Our problem was trees.  Our house is located very close to the neighbor’s property which was full of tall trees blocking our view of the mountain that housed the internet receiver.
    I spent a lot of time up on our roof, and walking around our property trying to get a view of the radio receiver tower.  I couldn’t find any views anywhere close to the house, where an internet antenna could hit the repeater.  I pretty much gave up on high speed internet.    Joan didn’t give up.  Once, when I was away, she contacted the Valemount internet provider, and they sent someone out to take a look at our situation.  The guy spotted the tall spruce tree sitting right beside our house, and told Joan he could put an antenna up there.
    A short time later, I was terrified, as he climbed higher and higher up the tree, and with his legs wrapped around the tree truck to hold himself, managed to attach the antenna high enough to get a clean shot to the repeater on the mountain on the other side of the valley.  He connected a cable from the antenna to my computer, and  we got our high speed internet.
    As you read this blog, you are seeing signals that travel up the cable from my computer to the antenna on the spruce tree, then zapped by radio waves to a tower on Lucille mountain, where they are bounced along a line of repeaters located on mountaintops to Valemount.  There it is put on a fiber optic line and sent to your internet provider.  Its all pretty amazing.

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