I work from home so communication on the internet is really important for what I do - writing books, maintaining our 2 websites, updating this blog, and general communication. For many years, I lived with very slow dial-up service. I can't believe I ever thought to start this blog back in 2006. It took forever to upload photos - watching the little circle spin around and around while I was thinking of everything I needed to do. I never had the patience to comment on anyone's blog because it would take 5 minutes or more for the process to even begin. Sadly, I haven't developed the internet friendships so many other bloggers have.
|Our little town hall which has high speed internet|
|Bernardston's Cushman Library|
|The pond that sits beside Cushman Library in Bernardston. It is full of critters|
The service came in the fall of 2010. We waited and waited until we got the call that we would be hooked up. But that didn't happen. For some unforseen reason, our road, along with several other roads in town were passed by. Throwing up my hands in disgust, I purchased something called an "air card" which cost $250 (it is the size of a credit card). The air card service costs $87 per month for lousy high speed limited in hours service - but it was better than dial-up. I still had to go to the Town Hall to do large file transfers or upload video. Watching video wasn't an option because the air card was too slow and our bandwidth was limited.
During these two years I called Verizon repeatedly checking on the possibility of DSL service at our home - explaining the situation. I was always told they would check on it. Once I was promised that an engineer would check out our situation. It never happened. And then I found out that my neighbors 2 doors away had somehow gotten DSL service. WHAAAATTTTTT? Every Verizon truck I saw, I would stop and talk to the repair guys. They would feel my pain but there was nothing they could do.
I called Verizon to check on service so many times as did all the rest of the neighbors. We all got the same message - it isn't possible. The service came to town but the outlying roads were too far away. We wouldn't get high speed service. I continued to call Verizon - hoping the message would change and by some miracle DSL would be available. All I could imagine was I was talking to someone in Texas or New Jersey in a giant building. Did they really care about how the lack of internet service was impacting my business? No - they could care less.
I was at a loss for what else to do. I thought back to when I was in 4th grade and was desperate for a pony for Christmas. We had the space but farm animals were against zoning rules. I wrote Mayor Hedden and pleaded my case. I didn't get a pony (do you think my Mom and Dad were in cahouts with the Mayor?) but my sister and I did land on the front page of the local paper with the headline "Mayor Hedden Plays Scrooge."
One November day in 2012, I sat myself down and poured my heart out to the President of Verizon. I told him about my on-line business, our farm, our websites, about sitting in the car outside the Town Hall. I told him how the lack of DSL service was affecting our family. I sent him maps showing all the houses that had service, highlighting the position of the "magic box". I figured why not copy some of my public officials. What the heck - it couldn't hurt. I cc-ed Governor Deval Patrick who I had heard speak at a local town hall (45 minutes from here) about bringing high speed internet service to "the last mile." We are living in "last mile land." I also cc-ed our State Senator Stan Rosenberg. I figured I had nothing to lose.
Two days before Thanksgiving in 2012, I got a phone call from NYC from a woman named Irma. She worked for Verizon and told me she would be working on my case. I was dumbfounded and stunned. She made me no promises. I was to call her once a month on the first Tuesday. At the end of the conversation, she told me that my case had been given to her because Senator Rosenberg's office had contacted Verizon on my behalf.
I hung up the phone shaking. I was in disbelief. I asked myself "Did that really happen? Will we really be able to catch up with the rest of the world?" I know - crazy - but I couldn't believe someone had finally listened after my years of calling and pleading.
In early December 2012, I got a call from a young woman named Caitlyn from Senator Rosenberg's office. She told me she was working to get us high speed service and was in contact with Verizon. I thanked her and then just hoped. Another month went by and nothing. But I kept calling Irma - she never answered the phone but I did not give up - I kept calling. In February, Caitlyn called again asking me how the high speed service was? I told her I still didn't have it. "Gee, that is weird - they told me they had hooked you up."
A week later I got a call from Verizon. The woman wanted to make an appointment to have a technician come set up our high speed service. I was speechless. School vacation was that week and Julia and I were going to my sister's for a winter break. But yes, we could come back and wait for the technician.
That is how we got high speed internet service. I cannot believe the difference it has made in our lives. First off, the DSL is $22 per month as opposed to $87/month. And it is fast. Julia can watch videos and t.v. shows if she likes. I don't have to go to the Town Hall to upload photos and files. I can watch videos on Lynda.com to learn what I need to keep current with computer programs I use. I can update my blog quickly as opposed to a post taking forever to load. The Farmer can research sheep illnesses when needed and learn from other sheep farmers via an internet forum. It really is amazing.
This is my shout-out to Senator Rosenberg and his staff. Thank you for helping us. This was the very first time in my over five decades that I actually reached out to government. The fact that they helped me get DSL by contacting Verizon is really amazing to me. And the fact that Verizon responded is even more amazing. This experience gives me faith in government and the power of the connection.
THANK YOU STAN ROSENBERG AND THANK YOU TO YOUR AWESOME STAFF.