Arizona Sky

The Cloud and RV Internet

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich 1 Comment

Technology is changing fast.  Every time I look at a new computer online or pop by a Best Buy or Apple store I see things changing.  One item of interest?  New laptops coming out without a CD or DVD drive.  Why are the taking these out you might ask?

The Cloud

Movies, books, music, TV Shows and more are now all out there on The Cloud.  You can stream most anything to your computer now with a fast enough connection.  Oh, and with luck your connection has enough monthly bandwidth to enjoy all of these new Cloud features……

And there’s the issue if you’re an RV’er who is on the road a lot.  Many people have a cap on their monthly usage.  Plans run at 10GB per month, maybe 20 in some instances.  And if you’re business requires regular internet connection you may find yourself burning through your monthly bandwidth in no time.

Dear Apple, Are You Kidding Me?

As most readers are well aware, there are Macs in the Airstream.  I’ve been a Mac user since 2002, not because they’re cool and hip, but because they’ve remained so stable and OSX is built on top of a UNIX platform.  UNIX has been used in telecomm forever as it is a reliable, secure, multi-user platform.  It’s also a pretty small operating system when it comes right down to it.  Well, it was in Apple’s case, but no longer.

With the latest release of OSX, coined Yosemite, I nearly had a heart attack when sitting down to update to the new OS.  What scared me so much?

A 5GB download.  The latest update for OSX was 5 Giga Bytes.  That’s huge!  And if I were on a capped plan for my wireless that size of a download could account for 50% of my monthly usage.  Fortunately in my case I have an unlimited plan, but still I was unwilling to draw attention to myself by doing a 5 Gig download.  Glad to say a local friend allowed me to use their connection with Cable One, but my friend also has a cap too of 50GB per month on his cable internet.  So I used 1/10th of his monthly bandwidth.

For folks who have a bandwidth limit on high speed Internet through a cable provider….I’m sorry guys.  Shouldn’t be that way at all.  They’ve got the capacity, and I can’t see any business reason for such a lame cap.  Back in NH in 1997 I had high speed cable uncapped for a whopping $45 per month.  While in WV in 2013 I had a connection with Sudden Link for $45 per month and it was 45Mbps (blazing fast) that wasn’t capped.  If your provider (cable, telephone company, etc) has a cap, shop around, you’re getting ripped off.

Back to the story….

With Apple’s latest release of laptops we are finding ourselves without CD / DVD on our computers.  And now with the latest software updates we’re finding ourselves having to download massive, top heavy updates.  Why have the updates gotten so large guys?  The marginal improvements with each release can’t be that big, can they?

Storm Clouds

Don’t get me wrong.  I am a fan of cloud based backups, streaming shows, and keeping all of my devices in sync.  But at some point I think the system manufacturers and programers out there need to reign it in ever so slightly.  Bigger is not always better, and when your customers are capped on network access you really are doing them a disservice!

If I was your typical Full Time RV’er I’d have a data plan somewhere in the 10 – 20 Gigs a month range.  The 5GB update from Apple would put me at 25-50% of my monthly usage.  Now, couple that with the updates from Adobe and the other software manufacturers I use (when an OS update comes out, updates for my programs come out too) and we’re suddenly looking at another 2.5GB of updates (in my case).

While the cloud rocks on many levels, it does not rock for highly mobile people trying to live within a bandwidth cap.  Couple that with the fact that everyone is producing bigger files and suddenly your rocket fast 4G plan will be all used up in the first few days of your monthly allowance.

With the dawn of the net we saw developers working on compressing their programs.  Prior to big broad band we worked on minimizing file sizes, while still delivering quality content.  With the advent of available broadband it seems that tech producers have forgotten about compression, elegant design, and the rest, and have now shifted to thinking, “We’ve got a huge pipe to consumers, go ahead and use it all.”

I’m sure other RV’ers out there have pondered this.  Big downloads, capped connectivity….what to do, what to do?  At some point something will have to give.  Physical media could make a comeback, or maybe a little focus on streamlined information products could come about (not likely though).

In the meantime, for my fellow road warriors I have the following suggestion.  Hold off on updates until you’re on someone else’s network.  Make friends in every town you visit, so long as they have banging bandwidth!  Or stay an extra day longer at the park you found with amazing Internet (oooh, like that will happen often).


Comments 1

  1. Cable internet bandwidth caps are there to protect the cable company’s cash cow, cable TV. With the caps it’s harder to dump your cable subscription and stream your shows over IP instead. In areas where there’s little to no choice in cable internet providers, like Prescott, the lack of competition allows them to get away with this nonsense. BTW our Cable One cap went from 50Gb to 300GB, so your friend’s might have as well.

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