Internet Service in Interior Alaska: A Visual Guide

Out here in the hinterlands of suburban Fairbanks, at the World Headquarters of Wickersham’s Conscience, we’ve received complaints about the low JPEG quality of photos, brevity of some postings and failure to include video on Wickersham’s Conscience.

It’s easily explained.

While WC lives in a very nice neighborhood, the area isn’t served by GCI cable. WC isn’t served by Alaska Communications DSL. WC has a really, really crappy wifi signal. So WC connects – for a given definition of “connects” – to the intertubes via AlasConnect‘s radio antennas. Remember dial-up modems? Think slower than that; no a little slower yet. Like a glacier, but without the brief bursts of activity when a glacier calves.

The tenth time in a row the connection to WordPress times out even as gentle and placid a soul as WC gets a little testy.

State of the Art Equipment

State of the Art Equipment

These are not ideal conditions from which to author a blog. If some other AlasConnect customer is streaming – well, attempting to stream – a movie over AlasConnect, the rest of us watch our data speeds slow to a fraction of the pace of an arthritic snail.

A Modest Monthly Fee (Does not include equipment rental or sign-up fee)

A Modest Monthly Fee (Does not include equipment rental or sign-up fee)

But it’s all right, because what AlasConnect lacks in bandwidth, it makes up in fees. WC is given the opportunity to cough up serious dough each month for the privilege of watching his WordPress connections time out. It’s a classic example of the law of supply and demand; for WC, AlasConnect has all the supply and can make any demands it wants.

WC is assured by AlasConnect that it has datacaps in place. You couldn’t prove it by WC; he’s never been able to get a connection to hold long enough to approach a datacap.

A Generous Datacap

A Generous Datacap

It’s a consequence of technological limitations of AlasConnect’s system, AlasConnect’s overselling its limited capacity, and AlasConnect’s misjudging the bandwidth needs of its customers. It all adds up to really crappy, really slow service. If WC wants to up load a high quality image, that might looks good on an HD screen, for example, he takes his laptop to River City where Barista Boss Bobbie generously allows WC to occasionally mooch some bandwidth with his mocha. Because that’s the only way to upload anything bigger than a few hundred kilobytes.

All of which is why you get low-res photos, short posts and infrequent video and audio. Insufficient bandwidth. Sorry. WC lives in an internet leper colony.


3 thoughts on “Internet Service in Interior Alaska: A Visual Guide

  1. WC should build a DIY WiFi wok insane-spy-mic combo. If astronauts can hear crickets from space then WC can hear boolean from his house–repeated from atop a tall Fairbanks building of course. Not sure about input devices but maybe there’s a small dirigible involved, and a Tesla coil, just for fun.

  2. Well then, once WC is comfortable with binder clips, he can progress to the clothespin and popscicle stick trebuchet; the Western canon is incomplete without cubicle warfare hero John Austin’s “Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

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