The internet sure has changed over the last 25 years. I remember my very first online connection. I used a dial-up modem to log into a local bulletin board where I was able to read computer news and chat with other geeks. Every time I dialed that modem, I was reminded of the 1983 film War Games starring Matthew Broderick. At any rate, it has been quite a journey.
I was recently reminded of that journey after running across a Houston company known as Blazing Hog. The company operates as a rural internet service provider, giving customers internet access through 4G mobile networks. Their service is competitive with the access most people get on their phones. It is arguably better than satellite internet as well.
I am fortunate in that I live in a suburban area with a decent number of broadband options. But if I lived in a more rural area, I might still be accessing the internet with DSL. I shudder to think of it.
Get a Coffe and Come Back
The internet’s earliest days were great. To those of us who didn’t grow up with computers, being able to connect to other people around the world using a desktop and the phone line was an entirely new adventure. But it was a slow one. We used to have a joke in my house: fire up the web browser, go get a cup of coffee, and come back in about twenty minutes. Maybe your page will be loaded by then.
Twenty minutes may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. A text-based site could load in a couple of minutes. Anything that included graphics would take much longer. The icing on the cake was that no phone calls could come in or go out while the modem was online. It was all or nothing.
Then Came DSL
We had dial-up in our house for a couple of years. Eventually, the phone companies realized they could use the two unused wires in their connections to provide what was known as the digital subscriber line (DSL) service. I signed up as soon as it was available in my neighborhood.
DSL was certainly an upgrade. First of all, I didn’t have to dial in any more. I was connected whenever the computer was on. Better yet, download speeds were noticeably faster. A good image could load in a minute or two rather than 10 or 15 minutes. At the time, I couldn’t imagine internet access getting any better.
Welcome to Broadband
My assumptions that DSL would be the pinnacle of internet access were laid to rest when broadband was introduced. Needless to say, I was happy to be wrong. I still remember the day the cable company came out and added a modem to my TV set up. I happily canceled my DSL service that very same day.
Websites now load in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. It was the difference between horse and buggy and a Ford Mustang. I don’t remember how long ago it was, but I have been a broadband customer ever since. I cannot imagine not having it today.
My heart goes out to people in rural America still stuck with DSL. That is no way to live in the 21st century. Here’s hoping that more of them sign up for 4G rural internet from company’s like Blazing Hog. A 4G connection might not be as fast as wired broadband, but it is a monumental upgrade from DSL. Every rural internet user should have access to it.