Part of the agreement for this upcoming season in Dawson is that my wages will be adjusted for the fact that I am going to be responsible for providing my own internet connection. My idea was to have the local ISP hard wire me. Thing is, I’m only going to be there for four months this year, and I don’t know if that will be cost effective. If I knew for sure I’d be coming back for a third summer, I wouldn’t hesitate to run the lines to my spot, but for four months it doesn’t seem to be the best option. I’d be better off investing in a mobile solution that could serve me in other locations.
Mobile internet options are slowly increasing in this country as cell phone service expands. Rates are, of course, usurious and coverage spotty soon as you head away from the US border. I don’t begrudge this last part; most of our country is wilderness! That said, I’ve been watching coverage maps increase along major highways and I’m pretty sure that this year I could get cell coverage for at least 60 to 75% of my trip to Dawson, provided I stick to the Alaska highway rather than the Cassiar, and that I’d be able to map out my trip to have internet service nine nights out of ten.
My cell phone is with Virgin Mobile. When we last spoke about coverage, they said they had no coverage in Yukon and were surprised that I had some in Whitehorse. I’m really happy with Virgin, feeling that it provides me with the cheapest and most flexible pre-paid options, so having to change carrier for my time in Dawson when I barely use a phone to begin with would be really disappointing.
Looking at their silly and almost illegible coverage map this week, it seems that they now do officially cover Whitehorse and maybe even Dawson City.
This is apparently due to a buy out by the biggest devil of ‘em all, my nemesis, the evil Bell Canada. Crap. So long as Virgin can remain the company it has been the last year and a half while taking advantage of the far reaching Bell network, I will be okay with this merger, but if there is even an iota of Bellishness to Virgin, then I will have no choice but to take my business elsewhere. I meant it when I said that I will never again do business directly with Bell Canada. I still haven’t forgiven them for making me climb up the telephone pole in the dark in minus twenty weather because their technician was (apparently) colour blind (and that wasn’t their most major crime against me).
But I digress.
If Virgin’s coverage map has increased, and I’m hoping they will reply with a definite answer for me, then I will be able to get something called a ‘Mifi‘ that would let me create my own internet hot spot. Of course, the device is incredibly pricey and the monthly plans are expensive for the amount of bandwidth you get, but it would be enough for work purposes and focused surfing. There are cheaper devices that seem to offer comparable service, but they are for PCs only. The device doesn’t work in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, either, but at this point it seems like the best and most affordable solution to me.
I’m at a crossroads right now, business-wise. I can’t afford to seriously invest in the internet solution I need (ie. satellite), but I require reliable internet service to grow my business. A loan is most definitely not an option. I’m also not certain of just where the next year is going to take me. If I do manage to get to the US next winter and do that every winter from now on, then satellite wouldn’t be as necessary. I could do like my friend Donna and use a cell phone as a modem, an inexpensive option that is just taking off in Canada (at much higher rates, of course), while in the US, and then plan my time in Canada around locations where a device like the mi-fi works. This uncertainty is one of the main reasons why I would never lock myself into any sort of multi-year agreement for cell or internet coverage!
Even if I don’t have an internet solution by the time I head north, I do have a plan in place that will enable me to update the blog, to a certain extent, when I’m in cell phone range. I hope that I won’t have to put that plan into motion, but it’s there. I am nothing if not resourceful!
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