For your consideration - Thom Barker

For your consideration - Thom Barker

Oops, did it again, but next time I’ll be prepared

Thom once again finds himself wanted when the internet goes out

So, I thought I had learned my lesson.

The last time we had a major internet and cell outage on June 7, I lamented about how unprepared I was. Then, I was in transit between Prince Rupert and Smithers and had to borrow cash to buy gas to get home.

At that time I vowed to be more prepared for the next time.

But when it crashed again (literally as this one was caused by a car crash) at around 5 p.m. on Oct. 18, I was once again woefully unprepared.

Fortunately this time, I was actually staying in Terrace so at least I didn’t have to go anywhere.

It made me realize, though, how much things have changed with our dependence on the internet.

For example, when I got into the hotel room, I was quite pleased that gone was the old cable TV option replaced by streaming services including Netflix, Prime, Crave and Youtube, plus a bunch of options I am unfamiliar with.

Downside? Without internet, nothing to watch.

Fortunately, I had brought a book with me. For our younger readers: a book is a compact form of entertainment with words printed on paper pages.

Unfortunately, I only had 20 pages to go.

And gone are the days when you could go down to the lobby and borrow a book or a deck of cards. To be fair, I am not entirely sure if that is a function of the domination of the connected world or a hangover from COVID, but it was somewhat disappointing.

I thought about going to Walmart and buying a new book, but again, no internet, no debit or credit purchases. And once again, I found myself devoid of good, old-fashioned cash.

Lest I be accused of bemoaning First World problems or pining for the “good” old days, which they weren’t by any means, just different, it wasn’t that big a deal.

In fact, when I lay down in bed and started reading, I didn’t even finish the 20 pages and ended up getting a really good night’s sleep.

Still, it underscores again our utter dependence on technology. It also brings to light the vulnerability of the system. If a car crash or a beaver can take down such a huge swath of B.C., we may need some redundancy.

Internet is now essential infrastructure and should be treated as such, the way electricity is. When the now notorious beaver downed an aspen tree that disrupted both hydro lines and fibre optic cables in June, only 21 B.C. Hydro customers were affected, but internet and cell service was out from Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert for eight hours.

Some redundancy may be on its way, however.

The Connected Coast Project, which is bringing fibre between Prince Rupert and Vancouver, is one-third complete. CityWest, which is a partner with Strathcona Regional District on the project promises “many communities in the North and along the coast will have a redundant connection, providing more reliable services,” although it does not specify which communities those may be.

We can only hope it is all of them along Hwy 16 to Prince George.

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