Technology

Rural broadband internet moves forward

Getting decent broadband internet in rural areas has always been a real challenge. And I’m one who believes that broadband internet is a required / essential service, just like roads and electricity. For all the talk that there has been about equal access to broadband for all Canadians, I’ve yet to see the government do anything meaningful to make this happen though. The good news is that today, there are finally some good options.

I’ve had my rural property for about 3 years and during that time I’ve gone through 3 different solutions. I started with satellite service. It was expensive to install and offered 512K download and 128K up. While the speed was actually almost useable, the latency was atrocious. I was seeing ping times on average of 300-400 msec and sometimes it was worse. Moving from one message to another in my email client had a noticeable lag. Still, it was all that I could get (other than dialup) and I was grateful to have something.

Then last year, I was able to switch 802.11b wireless broadband. A local ISP provider has strung up transmitters on a number of barns and was offering the service. Again, I dished out for a hefty install charge. The result was speeds that were almost the same (400K down and 400K up) but the latencies were very good at under 100 msec. This is actually a very useable service and I really don’t have much bad to say about it. Note, because it is line of sight, the coverage is fairly limited and I was just lucky that there was a barn/tower close to me. A lot of people will not be able to get this kind of service.

Recently my local mobile company (Rogers) has been pushing a 3G broadband solution. Its called the Rocket Hub and even though its a home solution, it’s based on mobile 3G technology. So it’s got a SIM card just like my mobile phone. And the speeds are very good. For the 1st time, I’m getting download speeds that someone in the city might consider calling broadband.

speed test 2010-03-08

It’s a world of difference and something that is exactly what rural homes need. So while I’ll always be looking for faster solutions, I am now able to be productive whenever I’m at my country property. For anyone in a rural location, I recommend you check out the Roger’s Rocket Hub.

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APIs, Mobile

Nokia new OS, Maemo gets detailed at conference

We’re right in the middle of the mobile API wars. Each major handset vendor has their own set of APIs and are trying to woo developers to create apps for their devices. Ever since the iPhone’s AppStore run away success, users are more and more looking to apps for all the cool extra functionality they want. So handsets without a vibrant app ecosystem are at a disadvantage.

Today Nokia’s Maemo conference started and the news coming out is encouraging. The first device, the N900 looks good and the software on it is promising. Maemo is based on Linux and today Nokia announced that Qt will be avialable for it. For all the Linux developers out there, this is probably the OS that is easiest for them to develop for. In fact, if done right, a bunch of the linux code created should be able to port very easily. Maemo is far and away a more compelling solution than Symbian, Nokia’s other OS. While Nokia’s strategy is looking more compelling, they still need to build an installed base. As a developer, there is no point in creating apps for a cool new device/OS if no one has handsets. Nokia needs to ship the N900 and get Maemo onto other devices ASAP. Without the installed base, only a few hobbist will be interested in Maemo.

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