Woody Packard

Words + Pictures

Communication, Systems

You're reading these notes because even here in the least densely populated country in the world, we have an internet connection. We are hooked up to a little device the size of a flattened stick of chapstick that plugs into the usb port of our laptops. If we are not using our built-in wireless modems for something else, such as transferring files (Apple Airdrop) or printing through an Airport, Judy and I can share the connection this device provides between our two computers. It is not without its problems. Here in western Mongolia, SkyTel was recommended to us, and as things in this part of the world go, it has been pretty reliable. We pay 24,000 ₮, or a little over $17 for "five gigas" of transfer, which, with updating this site, downloading teaching material, checking in on family at home with Skype, and getting software updates (a recent OS10 update was just shy of one "giga") lasts about two weeks. If it runs out on a Saturday morning, we can buy more gigas before noon by walking a few blocks and paying cash, but if it runs out on Saturday afternoon, we are out of luck. There are also outages, for as long as a few hours or days at a time, when there is simply no contact with the outside world.

We Americans are so accustomed to having the world at our disposal that when problems arise, our first reaction has become to go online to look for help. And so I caught myself a couple of weeks ago—after two days without service, being back online for an hour and then suddenly being cut off for running out of gigas—trying to google SkyTel to see if there was a way to pay online. I actually got all the way to the "You are not connected to the internet" warning before I recognized my logic gap. We (Judy more patiently than me) waited until Monday. More...

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Communication, Systems

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Wireless Modem

Skytel Office

Cell Tower

Post Office

Communications Wiring

Extra Wire

Wood to Concrete

Wood to Concrete

Junction Box

Wiring, Market

Electrical Connection

Student Phones