For your consideration - Thom Barker

For your consideration - Thom Barker

Are we ready for an extended internet outage?

Thom examines how dependent we have become on tech following June 7 internet outage

When the internet and phones went down June 7, it was seriously inconvenient.

I was in transit between Prince Rupert and Terrace en route to Smithers when, apparently, a beaver downed a tree, which downed the only fibre connection between Prince George and the other Prince. I had purchased just enough gas (at $2.19.9) in Rupert to get to Terrace in the hope it would be cheaper there.

At Kitsumkalum I was very pleased to see the sign reading $2.04.9. Even in my little Honda that’s a saving of more than six bucks. But when I got out of my car, the attendant asked me if I had cash.

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Nope. But not only did I not have cash, I had no way of getting cash because absolutely everything was down. Fortunately my boss’s boss at the offices of our sister paper the Terrace Standard happened to have enough cash to get me home.

A person two steps up the food chain is generally not someone you want to be indebted to, but better than being stuck in Terrace.

Just kidding. She is very nice.

Not sure what the points system is for brown-nosing in print, but there you have it.

And no offence intended toward Terrace. It’s a fine town, but I wanted to get home.

Ultimately, what disconcerted me most was just how utterly dependent we have become on being connected and just how easy it is for that connection to be disrupted.

At least it didn’t happen on a Monday. Monday is production day at the Interior News. By the time everything came back online two weeks ago, if it had been Monday, I would have likely been working until 3 or 4 a.m. to get the paper to press.

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So, on Monday (June 20) when I got to the office and had no internet connection, my sense of panic was visceral.

There is no Plan B. There is no alternate way for us to do this job.

I’m old enough to remember what it was like before ATMs and cell phones and the internet. You know, back in the day when we had to walk to school five miles uphill in both directions in a snow storm.

I don’t really want to go back to those days. Particularly because being in a long-distance relationship these days is so greatly enhanced by being able to talk to my love face-to-face every day.

Fortunately, most of the time, the tech is really reliable and when it’s not, quickly fixed. But what if we did have an extended outage?

Most of us have fire escape plans, supplies for power outages and backup plans for other emergency situations, but how many of us have plans to cover a connectivity emergency, aside from just waiting it out.

It’s something for all of us to think about, service providers, businesses, families and individuals.

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