The Impossible Became Possible Today

It had long been talked about. The possibility however, seemed far fetched at best and more probably impossible. Of course with enough money anything is possible, but we didn’t have that kind of money. Today everything changed.

Today we have internet.

Internet has had a spotted history here at YWAM Puerto Madryn.

Dial-Up

Starting off with dial-up internet, we had a connection that helped us to communicate with the rest of the world. This became a problem when the number of staff and students doubled and then tripled and has continued growing until we now have over 30 people on base at all times. Sometimes there are many more. Our single phone line is used so much that using it for internet blocked many people from calling or receiving calls. Internet by necessity became an activity of the night, with office staff staying up very late just to deal with essential emails.

Using dial-up was not without its problems either. The phone line connection always had a lot of noise and even after a number of calls to correct the problem the noise remained. This meant that our modem connection was slow. Very slow. It would take an extraordinary amount of time to open each email, so our office staff usually found other tasks to do while waiting for emails to load. The phone line was so bad at times that it was impossible to connect. Sometimes we would have to wait until the next day to be able to connect. Still, it was internet.

Sneaker-Net

Then, almost a year ago, internet stopped. Whether it was our account that was cancelled or the ISP that closed down we will never know. The account was on permanent loan from a friend and may well have been cancelled, but whatever happened our internet stopped working. From that moment forward we no longer had internet on our base.

In order to use internet we needed to walk to town, a distance of 6kms. The only bus that services our district works Monday to Friday three times a day. This translates into a lot of walking. Office staff now needed to take their USB sticks with them to town, save any relevant information and return to the office to write their replies before returning to town again the next day and replying to each email through copy and paste.

Other Options

Of course it worked, but it was not practical, and the cost of using internet per hour plus the cost for buses was mounting. Not to mention the slowness of the sneaker-system for internet access. We needed a better solution.

Getting another dial-up account was one option, but it was not a good one unless we put another phone line in. Getting another phone line into our base however, was not possible. All phone lines for the area were currently in use and there was little likelihood of getting one soon. Things move slowly around here.

ADSL, or broadband internet is not available in this area of Puerto Madryn as we are outside the city limits. It took us two months to find this information out from the telephone company, and when we asked if there was any likelihood of getting out here the response was a simple, “no!”

A new system for Internet is that of the USB modem offered by mobile telephone companies. It is available here too, and we have a good signal with one of the companies. This would work for one person, but was not a solution for the base nor for the office and their regular tasks on internet. Limits on these contracts include 1GB per month and expensive monthly payments – not exactly wise spending for a YWAM base.

A Long Shot

The only remaining option left to us was the ideal one – if only everything fell into place. That was to set up a wireless connection between us and town, where we were able to get a broadband connection. The equipment that we needed could be created from cheap items according to websites around the world, but all attempts at this seemed to fail.

Finally, just before leaving Australia, I was able to get a hold of some Ubiquity NanoStation2’s which looked like they were just the thing that we needed. Although somewhat expensive, they were small and effective, and worth the cost if they worked. So today, after purchasing everything that we needed, I put it all together using just one NanoStation2 and pointed it towards the city to see what would happen.

Suddenly we had access to over a dozen networks. We could see the whole world from here, and after trying to connect to a bunch of them, we finally found Internet. It turned out that this was the free internet offered by the local council. It was slow though, and only worked sometimes, but this was enough to encourage us to continue forward.

UPDATE: 30th March

Today we travelled around the city looking for a house to connect the broadband Internet. The first did not have a phone line, the second was behind some huge concrete buildings, and the third looked to be behind a couple of two storey houses. After climbing the roof we discovered that it had clear views to our place and connected with a strong signal. So now all that remains is setting up the other antenna at this house and connecting it to broadband. Wow, Internet in the Quintas at last. Now that really is a miracle.