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Wheatland city limits

Wheatland city limits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Work is demanding right now so I was due for a little surprise, something to make me smile and remember that life offers up simple joys. My gift announces itself in the blinking green light on my Internet hot spot. 4G service has come to town.

When connected at the paltry 3G, the flashing light is pink. It is a vibrant shade, but how I love visiting my son in Denver or sitting in a coffee shop in Fort Collins and seeing that green flashing light. Who cares about food, I can feast on fast Internet in the big cities. Zoom, off  I go to the land of Internet videos, which take up more than their fair share of 3G bandwidth. Zoom, off  I go to read blogs with lots of photos. Zoom, off to my research sites, which load quickly and give me information at the blink of a green light.

Remember the days of slow connectivity? Remember the dark ages before blazing fast connections?  That is still the norm in small towns. Wyoming has only 500,000 people, so it makes economic sense to upgrade infrastructure and provide faster service to the larger population centers first. The trade-off for living in a sparsely populated area is technology access.

Other, faster options have been available to me, such as regular cable Internet service. However, long ago I became hooked on my portable Internet hot spot.  I am on the go—Cheyenne, Denver, camping, traveling—and loved the ability to tote along my own Internet. Besides, I could go to the local library and steal their bandwidth to download large files. Shortly after I moved here, when my hot spot was not working, I spent most of a day at the library. I had the flu and was coughing, sneezing, and blowing my nose endlessly; the seven dwarfs rolled into one miserable person. I found a secluded area where I could work, but that day I got more than a few nasty looks. I could imagine the other patrons whispering, “Who is that weird new lady sneezing all over us, I hope that sniveling fool is not the new lady Pastor.”

The arrival of 4G was not totally unexpected. Last winter, after a week of painfully slow connectivity, I called technical support. He informed me, “By the end of the year, our whole system will be 4G”. That promise was enough to keep me wedded to my hot spot, although I came ever so close to a fling with cable Internet.  This summer, after further frustration, I stopped by a Verizon store and asked if I was eligible for a new, free hot spot. No, I was not, but he looked up the progression of the Wyoming 4G project and told me, “Torrington now has 4G so you should have it soon.” He was proud that they were ahead of schedule; I was skeptical. Torrington is a bigger town, of course they got the upgrade.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, phone and Internet service got squirrely. Everyone complained about missing calls and even slower Internet (we only have 1 cell provider). We commiserated, we wailed, we pulled out hair, but I wondered, “Could this mayhem be the by-product of infrastructure upgrade? Is 4G on its way?” I decided that 4G bliss was worth the transitional issues.  And so it was, that I woke up a few days ago, stumbled through making coffee and fired up my computer. Through my peripheral vision I see  that numinous blinking green light, at long last. No fuss, no big announcements; one morning, 4G simply arrives in Wheatland. I zoom from email to Jane’s Journals, to High Country News without any delay. I download a printer software upgrade in a flash. Life is good.

What, did you say that some cities have 5G? Sigh.

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