Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Upgraded internet & Free TV

New 4G Wimax receiver installed
Turtle Falls finally enters the high tech era...or maybe not. This is a story about one step forward and two steps back.

A few weeks ago our internet service was upgraded from a 3G Fixed Wireless service to 4G Wimax service...one step forward. That's Xplornet's Jess, in the picture, replacing the radio receiver with the new equipment on our tower. We were very excited about this changeover because we were getting less than stellar service with the old system. When we were actually receiving a signal we had no complaints about the 3G system, the speed was always a respectable 3Mbps. That's pretty good considering where we are. The problem was for about 8 hours out of every 24 we were not receiving a signal at all. Very frustrating considering our only reliable phone is an internet-based MagicJack phone, not to mention we work via internet and it also provides our TV viewing thanks to Slingbox. The TV viewing is probably not necessary but once the mosquitoes have driven us inside it makes for a long night of listening to the high-pitched buzzing outside the window screens as the mossies try to get at us. It can drive you insane. The TV watching is simply to drown out the mosquito noise ;)

Needless to say we were really looking forward to more reliability, and the 4G was going to allow us download speeds of 5Mbps. Sweet...Netflix here we come! Long story short...we are forced to experience the same growing pains Xplornet does as they roll out 4G service across rural Ontario. The upside, we now have internet service 24 hours a day so we have a working phone all day as well. The downside, our download speed has been reduced to about 1½ Mbps and the company has no good explanation for us...one step back. This is just enough speed for the phone to work, it's still ok (albeit a little slow) for what we need to work and, amazingly, the Slingbox still works. Netflix...the wait continues. Here's hoping our speeds reach 5 before they start rolling out a 5G system. Enough about the disappointing internet upgrade.

Edit Sept.15: A phone call to the Xplornet head office in New Brunswick last week was all it took to get our download speed to 5Mbps. Yippee! Another step forward!

Let me tell you about free TV now. Ras has a subscription to Cottage Life Magazine. A few issues ago she read an article about OTA (over the air) Television. Can you imagine her excitement? Free TV...like it used to be in the days when our parents had an antenna attached to their roofs, except now many of the broadcast signals flying around the airwaves are HD. After the initial cost of acquiring the antenna equipment, there is never another fee to pay. Hence...free TV! As you know, there is no Ras in procrastination, so off we go to the antenna selling store to see if this will work for us at Turtle Falls. It's an Olympic year ya know...there must be TV at TF and SB (Slingbox) just doesn't cut it! We left the store with 2 antennas, a pre-amplifier, a splitter and 100ft of cable. Guess who gets the job of installing all of this enthusiastically purchased TV-for-free equipment at the top of the 68ft tower? Ras looks directly at me.

So here it is...Mimi's big TV tower adventure. Thanks sister for taking pictures with your big-lensed camera.

Got my safety gear on. How am I going to get all this stuff up there?

Safely at the top and doubly tied in! The view from up there...trees for as far as the eye can see and nothing else!

Looking down I see the ground crew, Ras and Holly, looking up. Their necks got sore from looking up all the time, so they made themselves comfortable lying on the outhouse deck while waiting for their next job.

Installing a pulley system to get the various tools and antennas up the 68 feet.

First to arrive from the ground crew is the bucket of tools and accessories. My cell phone was in the bucket so I could take a couple of pictures and I got a text while there too. It was getting 3 bars (of 4 bars) way up there. I can see I will be back up the tower again sometime soon to install a cell phone signal booster antenna.

Holly's hauling up an antenna.

Making the connection to free TV. Why 2 antennas? One pointed at Ottawa for Canadian channels, one pointed at New York for the American channels.

The second step back is more of a step back in time with this method of receiving a TV signal. In this sense, maybe, Turtle Falls has not entered the high tech era but rather reverted to the past. But unlike the earlier days of antenna TV we can get 21 different channels from our location most of the time. It seems to be time and weather dependant to receive certain channels. The picture quality of the HD channels is amazing though, every bit as good as an HD picture via cable or satellite. And in locations like Toronto several more channels are available. It's no wonder we see so many of these antennas in our travels lately, mostly in the city.

Sometimes the simplest technology is the best technology...or at least the free-est.



Sandy said...

Hey.....wanna come over to the Falls for dinner?
Mom wants to talk toilets and fancy outhouses and well I have this antenna......

Seriously....when can you two come over for dinna

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm, pitty my trip wasnt around the same time you were installing....i installed free to air TV and cable for 4yrs could of helped you out!!!! great to catch up wit you both the photos are amazing. Take care Tam

Marie said...

Marilynn you continue to amaze me! Not only did you climb to the top of the tower, you took faith in the safety harness and installed the antennas. YOU GO GIRL!