It has been a frustrating morning. It rained here all night, and today our telephone connection is so crackly it almost drowns out the usual loud background hum on the line. For the last several years, we’ve been trapped in a direct cause-and-effect situation… it rains and we lose our telephone service. Several repairmen have told us that the fault is a long stretch of telephone lines “somewhere” with exposed connections. When the connections get wet, the lines short out. This problem has existed for probably six years now, and every time it rains or the weather is humid, our telephone becomes unusable. We keep reporting the problem, and the telephone company keeps acknowledging the problem and apologizing for the inconvenience, but they never make a permanent fix. Today the phone lines are about as bad as they have ever been. We could report the problem yet again, or we can just wait a few hours until the sun we are starting to see now dries out the connections. That seems to be all the repairmen do anyway… wait for a drier time… because even when they have supposedly “fixed” the problem, the same thing happens again the next time it rains.


Hosta in bloom

We have a cell phone, but that is no help here because there is no cell service in this area… and of course there is no broadband access either, so we are left with dial-up Internet access over these incredibly bad telephone lines. Contrary to the impression given by those television commercials where people are using wireless broadband in the desert, underwater, deep in the woods, or in otherwise generally inaccessible areas, and the voice-over says that no area is out of reach… this area IS. Although we CAN get satellite TV here, the satellite broadband companies available in our area tell us that the mountains and trees surrounding our house block the line of sight to their satellites. We have one last possibility… the telephone company has been promising a wireless broadband for our area for over two years now, but so far they haven’t delivered on those promises. We are still hoping that sometime they will… and that their broadband connection would be better than their telephone service.

Which brings me back to today. The Internet connection has disconnected five times while I have been writing this post and has just disconnected again. We have spent the last four hours trying to conduct our normal business and “work” with our current telephone reality, and it is frustrating. Sometimes there actually is a dial tone, and if we keep trying and trying and trying, we can occasionally make a short call or connect to the Internet (at a ridiculously SLOOOOOOW 2.4 Kbps) and try to get an e-mail message through before the connection cuts off again. The static on the line is still so loud, we can barely hear the person we’re trying to talk to… and they of course can barely hear us… making a necessary business call nearly impossible.

This… and our unreliable electrical service… are probably the biggest downsides to our life here… but that (the electrical service, I mean) is another story.

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Comments

ChristyACB

Keep your chin up! There will always be sunny days where it runs like the wind! Ironically, those will also be the days when you’re likely outside enjoying the sunshine and don’t care. ;)

Christy

LizBeth

I hear you, sister! That’s our last small town all over again. All I can say for it was, sure was nicer than the Big City and all its frights. We’re in the middle of a blizzard right now. Guess I ought to go see if the phone is working today right here! . . . . . .Really enjoy your blog. Thanks for all you put into it. Liz

Ashley

Yep. I grew up with the same rain/static phone lines. :)

Now I live in town. Where the power outages don’t always coincide with bad weather?!? It seems pretty random. And we have a stoplight that goes red and stays red in damp weather. *shakes head*

I’ll trade you! Actually, our house is on the market next week. We are doing everything we can to move ASAP. Life is short, ya know. We don’t want to spend more of ours where we don’t want to be, if we can help it!! :)

Jo

Dear Shirley,

I can relate to your frustration. I don’t know how long I have dreamed of having all utility lines either buried or inside sectional pipe that can be easily accessed by utility workers. It would cost a bundle for the switch from pole mounted lines but it would pay for itself over time.

And the trees would love it!

cricket

Well at least they dident tell you that its in your head like they did me!!!!! so now my main phone is the cell and von/cable phone. they need to replace the lines to fix the problem.

Shannon

We have the same problem with our phone in wet weather! It crackles and pops!

We have satellite for our internet. Otherwise we could never get on in the Spring! lol!

I’ll take living in the country any day. :D

Hugs!

Kelly

I can relate to the backroads, northern New England living as well. As I’m sure you know, it’s mud season. The other day on my way to work where I need to look professional (I was wearing a business suit/skirt) I was lost in my thoughts and got myself stuck in the mud on our dirt (now mud) back road. Thankfully, I wasn’t too far away from my house, so I grabbed my mud boots, which were in my back seat, and hiked the half mile back to my house for help. When I was standing in the doorway, mudboots and skirt, my partner laughed at me and came down to check out the situation. When he had gone back up to the house to get his truck, one of his workers came down the road and thankfully had a chain and pulled me out of the mud. When I called into work about 20 minutes later (once I was in cell phone service again) my coworker and I had a good laugh…

Kate

I’ve lived in cities most of my life, but two years ago bought a tiny cabin in a very rural area of Vermont. The utilities are a regular problem, with the weather and trees. When bought the property, I immediately reported a problem just like you described — crackling in the line that was so bad I couldn’t hear the person on the other end. It was fixed a couple days later and hasn’t happened again. They found the source a few miles away.

One caveat I want to give about dsl internet service, which is in some rural areas also. I have dsl service in my city place, where it is supposed to work best (very close to the control center), but I frequently have problems with the provider, Verizon, that have not been fixed and probably won’t ever be. I have to report it to the Attorney General.

KG

Alas, urban life is not devoid of this same phone/rain problem. My parents live in a large city of 700,000+ people and they’ve had the problem you describe for the 20 years they’ve lived there. I know they have reported the problem many times, but I guess finding a solution is not a top priority for the phone company.

Marybeth

One of our rural homes had the opposite problem. When it got too dry we had to go pour water in a certain spot to fix it, temporarily at least. Something about it not being properly grounded. Thankfully we lived in a rainy climate. It always gave me the heepiegeebies to pour water on something I knew had wires!

David

Reminds me of working in Africa. The electricity would go out half the time and with it, the internet (which had recently arrived, at the time) – especially when there were storms, of course.

This was especially true in Niger. Because Niger is a very dry country located in the Sahara/Sahel region, there is a profound appreciation of the rain. When the huge dark clouds rolled in and the storms began, we would go to the windows or the porch and revel in the wonder of it. Electricity, internet – our important things we “had to do” all fell by the wayside. We just stood in appreciation and wonder.

Tammy

I feel like I could have written your post!! We also have spotty telephone service when it rains and no cell phone service in our area. We DID come up with a solution to the internet problem after every company, satellite and otherwise, couldn’t help (satellite sure can be expensive, can’t it?). We got a 3G modem (I understand 4G is now available) called a Turbohub from a major internet company. HOWEVER, here’s the key – the hub by itself won’t work, you need an roof antenna for it. It requires an antenna (it needs to be grounded), a ‘cable tv’-sized wire that goes from the antenna into the house and another tiny wire that goes from the wire to the hub (a bit of research turned up the necessary specs). The computers in the house are synched with the hub and are then wireless. The signal works off cell towers many miles away. You’d be surprised how far that signal can travel, even through heavy forest. We rented to buy the Hub through Bell which has towers in the area. I found web sites that identified where towers were (and whose). The Turbohub is an Ericsson. Hope this helps someone in some way. Very best wishes and thanks for a great post!

Johanna

Hello Shirley,

We too simplified and de-stressed our lifestyle and I can relate to a lot of what you have discovered.

One thing that might help you Internet wise is to look into the type of Internet service RVers use. We had a satellite dish on a tripod that we moved around. There was a meter called the bird dog that helped us find the satellite each time we were in a different location. As long as you have some space near your home that is clear enough to locate the satellite, you should be good to go. And since you won’t be moving around, it ought to work provided you have anchored it well and it doesn’t blow down in a high wind. Then you can use Skype for your phone…