Rural Internet

I recently changed both my broadband and mobile phone providers. The reason was simple: I wanted a faster, more stable connection, both at home and while out and about.

Increasingly our lives are revolving around a strong internet connection, and there are certain aspects of my job I can’t even do without being online. Everything is in the cloud; local storage is becoming little more than a cache. And yet, living in Rural North Norfolk 4g coverage is spotty, 3g is rare and GPRS (or even the dreaded No Service) is not uncommon. Even my fibre optic broadband tops out at 13mb/s.

I was on the train with a colleague of mine the other week. They stated that “it’s amazing how useless a laptop is without an internet connection”. I found this to be quite amusing. Perhaps it’s because I’m old enough to remember a time before The Internet and constant, near ubiquitous connections, that I find my laptop (and iPad, and even phone) perfectly usable offline. Unfortunately I am little hamstrung when it comes to looking up information, which can be a practically constant need if I’m trying to do development – hurrah for Dash and offline documentation.

This near ubiquitous connection is a problem though. Too many services assume constant connection and become problematic at best when you drop offline. It annoys me that I have to use the iPad version of Trello on the train because the website doesn’t support offline properly. It’s annoying me to the point where I may actually write a native Kanban style app for OSX as an excuse to learn Swift.

There is still a need for offline version of apps, tools and utilities, but that need is shrinking. In some respects that’s turning those of us who can’t be online constantly into second class netizens.