I wrote about my internet-free experience on the Mendocino coast in a rather light-hearted manner. It was not a problem for me, except that it forced me to confront my a) internet addiction and, b) ability to distract myself from doing any real work.
That wasn’t the case for everyone, though. I mentioned, in one line, the problem for some businesses, whose credit card line was wireless. You can still charge a credit card manually; take down all the information and the person’s phone number, then enter the transaction when the system is live again. It’s a pain but feasible.
When I checked out of the Allegria Inn, Paulo brought up an issue I hadn’t considered. Paulo is a volunteer on the local fire department. The town was worried, he said, so worried they were planning a town meeting (next week, probably) with the fire chief. Many people east of Highway One, or in town for that matter, gave up land-lines and went to wi-fi phones (fusion service) because of the cost. Many of those people are geographically isolated. Some of them are graying. When the fiber optic line went down, they were without any way to call for help if they needed it.
Paulo and the man who runs the kaleidoscope shop both said that the agreement when AT&T brought in fiber optic was that they could create a fully redundant system. That may be true. Knowing a tiny bit about AT&T and its commitment to service, I find it unlikely. People believe it, though. Clearly, there is no redundant system.
AT&T has never been wild about the idea of providing a quality product that their competitors get to use to offer better service from, so there’s no real incentive for them to do anything that would just be good for folks. Perhaps they can be forced to install a redundant system, or put all the wires underground, as they contracted to do originally. If somehow AT&T get a regulatory order or a judgment to do this, the folks in Mendocino County can expect it to happen in about ten years. By then we’ll all have data jacks in our brain-stems that connect to the satellite network so it will be far less of a problem.
It raises some interesting questions, not just for the Mendocino Coast but for me, here at home, where we have fusion and our fiber optic cables are mostly underground. I need to consider that during the next big disaster (earthquake, flood, alien attack) I may not have phone service. I may have cell service.
If I lived back in a canyon on the coast range in Mendocino, I probably wouldn’t have either. Maybe a battery-operated two-way radio would be a good investment.