Growing up in a rural area meant that my Internet experience was always going to be below that of my city living counterparts. This wasn’t much of an issue for a while as dial-up was pretty much all you could hope for anywhere in Australia however the advent of broadband changed this significantly. From then on the disparity in Internet accessibility was pretty clear and the gap only grew as time went on. This didn’t seem to change much after I moved into the city either, always seeming to luck out with places that connected at speeds far below the advertised maximum that our current gen ADSL lines were capable of. Worst still they almost always seemed to be at the mercy of the weather with adverse conditions dropping speeds or disconnecting us from the Internet completely.
My current place of residence never got great speeds, topping out at 6Mbps and only managing to sustain that connection for a couple hours before falling over. I can expect to get a pretty stable 4Mbps connection most of the time however the last few days have seen Canberra get a nice amount of rain and the speeds I was able to get barely tickled 1Mbps no matter how many times I reconnected, reset my modem or shouted incoherently at the sky. It was obvious then that my situation was caused by the incumbent weather, filling my local Telstra pit with water which sent the signal to noise ratio into the ground. Usually this is something I’d just take on the chin but this situation was meant to be improved by now if it wasn’t for the current government.
Prior to the election my area was scheduled to start construction in October last year however it became one of the areas that disappeared off NBNco’s deployment map shortly after the Abbot government came into power. This meant I would then come under their revised plan to bring in FTTN through VDSL which has the unfortunate consequence of leaving me on the known-bad infrastructure in my street. So my speeds might improve but it’d be unlikely that I’d get “at least” 20Mbps and I could guarantee that every time it rained I’d be in for another bout of tragic Internet speeds, if I could connect to it at all.
The big issue with the Liberal’s NBN plan is that my situation is by no means unique and indeed quite typical thanks to the aging infrastructure that is commonplace throughout much of Australia. Indeed the only place that I know gets speeds as advertised for their cable run are my parents who still live in a rural area. The reason for this is because the copper is new out there and is quite capable of carrying the higher speeds. My infrastructure on the other hand, in a place where you’d expect it to be regularly maintained, doesn’t hold a candle to theirs and will continue to suffer from issues after we get “upgraded”.
A full FTTP NBN on the other hand would eliminate these issues providing ubiquitous access that’s, above all, dependable and reliable. The copper mile last run that the majority of Australia will end up using as part of the Liberal’s NBN just can’t provide that, not without significant remediation which neither Telstra nor the government has any interest in doing. Hopefully the Liberal government wakes up and realises this before we get too far down the FTTN hole as it’s been shown that the majority of Australian’s want the FTTP NBN and they’re more than willing to pay for it.
A dull light crossed my bed, illuminating the room with a subtle even glow. It wasn’t the blazing column of heat that usually woke me whilst I had been staying down in Florida telling me that something was definitely different about the weather. Looking outside I saw a thick cloud coverage going from horizon to horizon, muting the sun and causing the temperature to drop to more reasonable levels. Almost instinctively I fired up my computer to see what the status was on the Discovery launch: scrubbed until tomorrow just as everyone had predicted. I set about the task of readying myself for the flight out of here since my flight was only 4 hours away and I had a few things that needed to be done.
After filling up the Mustang (which drinks fuel in comparison to the Corvette, strange I know) I returned it to whence it came. It was a decent car but it felt pretty cheap, with all the components being plastic and resembling those of parent’s 1992 Commodore. Still it was a very comfortable and quiet ride so I can’t fault it as a car to get around in, apart from the startling amount of fuel it used to do just about anything. After dropping it off I went to check my bag in so I could go about hunting down some breakfast, thinking that being here so early I would’ve beaten the rush.
That didn’t appear to be so since the line for checkin took 15 minutes clear and the security check point line took well over an hour to get through. Still it was a pretty easy going experience even though the libertarian in me was screaming again about civil liberties and security theatre but my rather blasé mood managed to quell him without too much trouble. Once I was through I settled in with a light breakfast and my novel, blasting through a couple chapters before it was time to board. The flight itself was quite smooth once we were above the cloud tops. I can see why NASA would be concerned about them since they were quite thick and the shuttle could have easily triggered a lightening strike or worse, stripped the heat tiles off the orbiter.
Once I had disembarked from the plane I was struck by how new everything in the Montreal airport looked. It had obviously just been renovated with modern accents adorning every corner and multicoloured LED strips lining the walkway to immigration. The airport itself was a model of efficiency getting nearly half the plane cleared before the baggage even started to arrive on the carousel. After picking up my bags and just simply walking out (I was expecting an Australian-esque customs shake down) I was then greeted with two smiling faces: my wife Rebecca and her best friend ever Laura. I was greeted with a bear huge of epic proportions and I returned in kind, revelling in the human contact I had been missing for so long. I was looking forward to this moment for quite a while and the relief I felt was unimaginable.
Tonight we were to dine at the FireGrill, a Canadian steakhouse chain that apparently put on quite a spread. After navigating our way through the tail end of the rush hour traffic we went and picked up Laura’s boyfriend Marc before starting the walk there. It wouldn’t have been so bad walking there but it was steadily raining the whole time there, drenching those of us who hadn’t come prepared. It made for a few entertaining moments at the start of the night when I was mopping up my hair to avoid dripping water all over the menu, especially when I thought I got it all only to have another drop embarrassingly make its presence known with a loud splat. The food there was delectable and the wine I had selected (a French pinot noir) was a good compliment to the steak I was having. It was particularly pricy though but it was definitely worth it, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.
I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that tomorrow I am having a bro date with Marc and possibly one of his work colleagues. Usually this would weird me out since I hate forced social situations but I’ve already taken a shine to Marc and since we share a profession I figure that worst comes to worst we can bitch our respective work places without boring each other to death. I know I’ve had more than a few shared rolleyes when I get my real geek hat on and start talking about the various implications of technology X or why someone is an idiot for not using Powershell.
Thinking back over the day I was still somber from the emotional thunderstorm I put myself through yesterday right up until that first moment when I spotted my wife waving me eagerly over to her. It was a great comfort and the company that she’s been keeping over here in Canada made me feel like this was a home that I had somehow managed to leave behind. Suddenly I realised that I had been missing that key ingredient that really makes travel worthwhile: that human connection. Visiting far away places is all well and good but without that connection to someone else, whether it be a travel partner or those you meet whilst over there, the experiences feel quite insular. I have less than a week here but I can already feel the experiences that I’ll take away from here will be that much richer thanks to the people I’ll be sharing them with.
Sometimes the best news you can get is summed up by one line:
Monday Fine. Partly cloudy. Min 2 Max 14
Part of the joys of having an outdoor wedding is right up until the day you won’t know if you’re going to have a nice day, or a hailstorm that will ruin the entire thing. After enduring a record setting dust storm on Tuesday (Canberra had it first, but not as bad as Sydney), torrential downpours including hail and savage winds we’ve been on tentahooks about how the weather was going to be on the day. This one line, which hasn’t changed much in the past few days, has helped me keep myself and my significant other sane.
Now if only the other 100 things that need to be done would fall into place that easily I’d be a very happy gentleman.
(P.S. I’m hoping to get some time on the weekend to write up some articles so that you all have something to read during the next 2 weeks. If you have any suggestions, I’d be much appreciative 😉