The Challenge of Internet Connecting Overseas

Before I had traveled to Indonesia myself, I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to get consistent emails from Jason and family.  How hard could it be to get an update of one or two sentences every other day?  How about a picture posted on Facebook?  When your grandchild is half a world away, we grandparents were hungering for any snapshot of a wee one who was growing and changing rapidly.

Now that I’ve seen how things work (or don’t) firsthand, I have a much better understanding of why it has been so hard for the kids to stay connected with us.  Laura told me that when they moved to Bandung to attend their language school, they had to try three separate internet services until they were finally able to connect and each time they tried, it took Jason almost a full day to try to set up things on the computer.
The service that Jason uses now is one that he must pay a set amount of money for and then he can download, upload, or any combination thereof up to 1 gigabyte before his quota is used up and his download speed decreases dramatically.  So when he wants to upload a picture, he always makes sure to compress it so that it isn’t using up a lot of space from his quota and that’s one of the reasons that he doesn’t post a lot of pictures.   Conversely, if someone sends him a large file whether it is via email or in an attachment, it will also use up a lot of his quota. 

The internet speed is also very slow, especially when you are used to the high-speed internet connections available in the States.  We have our internet connections at home via Verizon FiOs and it is blazing fast.  The internet through Jason’s provider is almost like the old dial-up modem connections but I’d say it seems slower to me many times.   You have to wait SOOOOOOOOO long for a website to load that often the page “times” out and you get an error message with a “Try Again?” button.  Aargh, the agony!

When Jason’s monthly paid connection time has run out, he has to walk to the place where he purchased the service from and put more money down on it.  I’m not sure if you have the option of having it renew automatically or not but, at least in his case, it isn’t an automatic process.

Jason and Laura will download their email and then disconnect and read the emails off-line.  Then they will write up email replies off-line and have them all ready to copy and paste for the next time that they go online so that time isn’t wasted while they are connected.  For my blog posts, I’ve also been writing my posts before I connect so that I’m also not wasting connected time.  Yes, it’s a whole new way of doing things.  Can’t say that I’ll miss it when I am back home and able to get back into my old way of using the “Net.” 

What this experience HAS taught me is to be mindful of how difficult it can be for others overseas in certain areas of the world to stay connected electronically with others.  It has to be a very intentional process.  I guess patience is called for on both ends and that isn’t easy when you’re hungry for news from your family overseas.

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • This reminds me of when I lived in Bulgaria. There were only 14 telephone lines connected to Western Europe and all Internet traffic had to travel over those lines. You would send an email and receive a message that it was in the queue. Then, anywhere from 12 to 24 hours later, you would find out whether it went through (usually not). Then there were the frozen water pipes, but I doubt that happens in Indonesia.

  • It is an eye opener, isn’t it? Still, people at home cannot quite grasp the difficulty – even when we tell them.

    These last 2 days kath has been in hospital and even the telephones and texting hasn’t been working. It took Vinj 2 hours to get through to us to let us know where they were!

    Makes you appreciate even more those emails and photos that they do send, doesn’t it?


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