Sunday, April 7, 2013

It’s good to be out-of-town

    Living on the side of a mountain has its challenges.  When my wife and I decided on this high altitude haven, I knew there would be one major obstacle.  My business is entirely dependent on the Internet and our new rural retreat lies just outside “the grid.”
    When we first moved to North Carolina, we bought a house 14 miles outside of town.  I loved it out there, and even though I accessed a cyber-connection almost daily, my living was not technology dependent.  I had to settle for a small satellite dish mounted high on the hill above my house with uploads and downloads bounced off some distant piece of orbiting space debris.  Satellite Internet is nothing to write home about; it is barely faster than dial-up.  You can forget about streaming music, or video, or anything that requires bandwidth.
    Why satellite?  Waynesville isn't exactly a technological nexus, and once outside the town’s boundaries, getting DSL or cable service becomes an issue.  The fiber optic lines stopped about three miles down the river.  I begged and pleaded but the phone company was steadfast in their denials.  The cable company was worse, they didn't even make the turn onto our road some five miles away.  To top it off, our property sat in a deep valley and while cell service was sketchy, air cards were worthless.  I had no viable alternative.
    When the economy started its backslide, we took the opportunity to sell the acreage out by the Pigeon River and move into town.  By then my little editing/proofreading business was blossoming and replaced that horror of horror, my job, boss, paycheck, stability, insurance and stress.  But with the business came an absolute need for high speed connection. We had moved into “the Country Club” in the heart of town only to be disappointed by the limited availability of DSL Lite: not the desirable up to 6mbps that is heavily advertised, nope I had a blistering 0.75mbps.  I was so happy to be in town, elbow-to-elbow with strangers, incessant traffic noise, parties, fights, stereos and televisions providing a comforting ambient noise all night, not to mention a yard with no room for my dogs to play.  No, I am no townie.
    It wasn't long before our sanity required that we get back to the peace of the rural countryside.  Hence our move to this comfortable aerie perched high above the valley that nestles the quaint town of Waynesville.

    We are not totally cut off from civilization; we do have electricity from the local co-op.  But as far as other modern wired amenities, power is about the total extent up here.  Neither the phone company nor cable come this far up, and even though I have enjoyed satellite TV for years, I was not about to attempt space as an Internet conduit again.  In my pre-move research, I discovered that the mountain just to my north held a large array of cell towers, and Verizon Wireless has a little known service called Home Fusion.  They installed an antenna on the side of the house and a router/modem inside, and presto, high-speed, dependable Internet. 
    Yes, I have cut the wires (all except electric).  My phones and Internet are cellular, my TV satellite, my water is from a well, my sewerage goes into a septic system, and even though I can see my nearest neighbors high above me, you couldn't climb your way up there and any noise they make is filtered by the dense forest canopy and the clean mountain air.
    All sarcasm aside, it’s good to be out-of-town.

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