The Ubiquitous Internet

My family and I headed up to Grand Marais, MN for a few days.  Someone rated it, “The Coolest Small Town in America”.  Of course, gonna be pretty darn hot in the northland today.  I posted some photos on Instagram, Facebook, Swarm and Tumblr.

I have been coming up here since around 1974.  My grandfather built a cabin in the woods.  It doesn’t have electricity.  It doesn’t have running water.  My grandfather solved those two issues with solar power, and a gravity fed spring.

The cabin doesn’t have cell service or TV.  We are blissfully away from the news of the day.  I am typing this in the Java Moose.  We have already gotten the requisite donut from World’s Best Donuts.  Today I was lucky.  I got one plain fresh out of the fryer.  It was super crisp as I bit into it looking at the sunrise over Lake Superior. I will get lucky with the walleye tonight.

Yesterday we arrived and one of our propane lines had snapped.  We can get it fixed today no problem.  But, it shows the usefulness of the Internet.  I couldn’t pick up my cell phone and call anyone.  Even though the ATT map says there is cell service here, there isn’t.  (Only Verizon and Sprint seem to work, and it’s touchy) Our cabin obviously doesn’t have a landline.  For years if there was a true emergency, my grandparents would use CB radio to try and get help.

When we were driving through rural Wisconsin and along Highway 61 along Lake Superior, we didn’t have cell service either.

It is such a contrast from living in a densely populated urban area where good cell and super fast internet is a fact of life. We take it for granted.  Although in my Chicago apartment, ATT doesn’t work very well.  I like to say “They promised me flying cars and all I want is a cell call that doesn’t drop”.  First world problems.

It’s something to keep in mind when you develop apps.  Quick UX that is seamless is imperative.  Having an app constantly scroll makes it unusable.  In the woods, my phone is essentially dead weight.

I understand the economics of why ATT and other phone companies wouldn’t want to build the infrastructure in order to have full cell coverage anywhere.  I wonder if there is something in telecom regulation that stops someone from building out a network and selling time to various carriers.  If regulations are in the way, government needs to eliminate them so private economic competition eliminates the dead spots.

If the US economy is going to hit on all cylinders, having access to the pipes that give you access to the technological innovation is going to make a difference.  This rural cell problems is not isolated to this area of the country.  My wife and I drive all over and have seen it in ever rural area of the country.