When I read the Nelson Star article in the Wednesday, February 19 issue stating that there is a “broadband launch set for spring,” I felt hope and skepticism.
I’ve worked from home as a software developer in Nelson for close to five years. High speed internet is incredibly important to me. Most of the people I work with are in major urban centers around the world and typically have 1000Mbps internet service.
The worst service that I know anyone in my field to have outside of Nelson is 250Mbps. Nelson is woefully behind the times, though the same could be said of Canada in general.
For the first three years that I lived in Nelson, I paid for a 25Mbps internet service from one of the two major service providers. We never got close to 25Mbps. I recall 5Mbps being a good day. Over the next three years a good day went down to 1Mbps and then to 0.3Mbps.
At that point even trying to watch a video on YouTube with my family became nearly impossible to say nothing of the large file transfers and video conferencing that is crucial for my occupation.
All through those years I complained repeatedly to my service provider. I was assured over and over that improvements were going to be made in our area that would allow them to offer better service.
About a year ago I switched to the other major service provider where I was sold a 6Mbps service. The reality of this service is that I get a variable speed of between about 3 and 5 Mbps. Not great, but a big step up from the 0.3Mbps I was getting on the 25Mbps service I was paying for previously.
Even though I had changed service providers, I continued to keep in touch with the first provider who kept me up to date on the fiber upgrades in the area.
In the new year I was told that they could finally offer a true 25Mbps service and that 50Mbps, and even 100Mbps would be coming soon.
I wanted so badly to believe.
A month ago I had the first provider setup a modem at my house to test this new and improved 25Mbps service, which is reportedly working better in some areas of town. After three weeks of disappointing speed tests showing no consistent improvement I returned the modem, choosing to stay with the second provider and their more reliable “6Mbps” service.
There are days when I cannot attend video or audio conferences because I don’t have the bandwidth, days when browsing for the information I need to do my job is painfully slow and inefficient, days when downloading or uploading a file that my colleagues could transfer in seconds takes me the better part of an hour.
Without fast and consistent internet speeds it is very difficult to attract and maintain many types of businesses which would otherwise be well suited to Nelson and would enrich the community and the tax base.
In the modern distributed world of technology it matters less where you are physically, and far more on the speed with which you can connect at (although a reliable airport is still helpful).
For my own sake, and for all the other local businesses and individuals who have a need for reliable high speed internet for their livelihood, and also for those who want to watch YouTube videos, stream movies or tv shows or play networked video games or even just browse the web like a modern human, I pray that this time the promise of high speed internet in Nelson comes true.