Day something (I've lost count) and still no sign of a modem from Telstra. The post office staff are beginning to express concern for my sanity. They've seen it happen before. Far North Queensland has a high density of eccentrics and alcoholics and eccentric alcoholics. Conventional wisdom says that these folk are here because they seek isolation but everyone knows that their problems set in right about the time they start interacting with the telco. The post office staff should get free counseling for having to cope with the mad, staring eyes of customers watching them through the empty post office boxes.
The first twitches began when Telstra rang to tell me I couldn't have ADSL because the lines were too congested. And had I considered cable? Well, yes, I had. I just thought I'd go for ADSL because it was slower and less reliable. But I was delighted that they would run a cable from Cairns along the highway and up over the tallest mountain in Queensland just for me.
Okay, how about wireless broadband? Sure, there wasn't a reliable mobile signal within a kilometre of the house but an external antenna would solve that. Despite my disbelief, expressed in subtle ways, such as 'You've got to be kidding. I could have the Parkes telescope on my roof and still not pick up a squeak', they insisted it would work. So I told them to send over the modem. Which they did. And which, despite hooking it up to the biggest antenna on the Tablelands, did not pick up a squeak. I indulged in a 'told you so' but because you never speak to the same person twice, it was pretty much wasted.
What about satellite? they said. What about it? I said. It is obscenely expensive and doesn't work too well in the rain. Well, yes, apart from that. I live in the Wet Topics, I said. It rains a lot, even in the dry season. And did I mention it's obscenely expensive? Oh, and I have the smallest patch of sky and no horizon. It would have to be pointing straight up, which would pretty much make it a penthouse frog pond in the Wet.
Dial up, then? Yes, dial up. (Which keeps dropping out, as it did just as I was typing this.)
Then I tried applying for ADSL again because I didn't believe them the first time. And, strangely, it's now available. Presumably someone died in the intervening weeks. Or persuaded Telstra to run a cable over the range. Or won the lottery and opted for satellite. Who knows?
One day my modem will come. Of course, whether I get the service I pay for is another matter. Here's what Telstra have to say about the speed of their ADSL2+:
About 50 per cent of members on the 20Mbps plan can access speeds around 10Mbps or more.
I wonder how many can actually access it at 20Mbps? I'm guessing a vanishingly small fraction, otherwise why would they chose such a low rate as their benchmark? It's not something to boast about, Telstra. And if it ends up being slower than the other plan, how do they charge for it?
Tomorrow, the Australia Post staff will get one more look at my mad, staring eyes through the P.O. Box and then I might consider telling Telstra to P.O. once and for all.