It was fun to attend the Trout Lake Township Supper and Community Discussion this week. Trout Lake Township is just south of Bovey and a bit east of Grand Rapids. This beautiful place, of course, has Trout Lake as its centerpiece. Only a very small portion of the Township is served by terrestrial broadband. Cell service is also spotty within the township. Many people use satellite for their broadband service. The Township has a broadband committee that has been working to bring a better wired solution to the community. They have a list of over 90 households who indicated that they would subscribe to broadband if it was available.
I partnered with Mark Zimmerman of Itasca Economic Development Corporation to give a brief presentation. In my presentation “Bits and Bytes”, I discussed the various types of broadband with their associated strengths and weaknesses as well as costs. Mark Zimmerman talked about the three projects at the center of the Itasca Blandin Broadband Community effort. Using the town’s satellite broadband account through Exede, I was able to demonstrate several national applications like Pandora and WebMd as well as the school district and local hospital web sites.
Prior to the presentation, I connected to a speediest application to test the satellite service as it was the first time that I had connected via satellite. The speed of the connection was an impressive 18 Mb, which is 150% of the advertised speed of 12 Mb. Upload was about 2 Mb. I know that latency is part of the satellite experience, but it was disconcerting as a presenter to click and then have to wait. On the speed test, the latency was over 500 milliseconds. My home Comcast latency is usually around 18 ms, even through my wi-fi network. While the availability of satellite Internet and its recent improvements in capacity must be considered a technology marvel, the people of Trout Lake continue to pursue providers willing to fiber up the community so as to enjoy the same pricing and level of service as their nearby neighbors in Bovey and Grand Rapids.