Mason family making the switch from satellite internet to DSL

  • Brad Gilbert of Mason is planning on upgrading his internet to DSL later this year, which will allow him to work from home. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Brad Gilbert of Mason is planning on upgrading his internet to DSL later this year, which will allow him to work from home. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Brad Gilbert of Mason found it impossible to work from home, but plans to start telecommuting as soon as a copper DSL line is installed at his home. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/30/2019 5:51:53 PM

The busy Dunkin Donuts in Greenville isn’t the ideal work environment – except in one respect. It has free broadband internet. For Brad Gilbert of Mason, who lives only a short distance away, the difference is clear.

“The internet here is faster than what I have at home. By a lot,” Gilbert said. 

But hopefully, internet upgrades coming to his neighborhood will close that gap.

In a few months, Gilbert will have access to DSL internet for the first time since he moved to Mason – and it’s going to transform his life.

Gilbert and his wife and son moved to town four years ago, and he said they knew what they were getting into in terms of what internet service providers are available. The family has a satellite internet package through HughesNet. But their neighborhood is in an area of town that Consolidated Communications is currently upgrading to copper DSL lines, and Gilbert said they’ll be taking advantage of the upgrade as soon as it’s available, which could be as soon as the end of this year.

“Internet is something that, while it’s not critical to my survival, more and more it’s becoming critical to my quality of life,” Gilbert said.

Consolidated Communications is currently upgrading its internet service capabilities in the northern end of Mason, which will include about 70 households, including Gilbert’s.

It’s a change that will allow Gilbert to work at least part-time from home, increasing his time with his family and reducing frustrations stemming from latency issues with his satellite service.

Gilbert, a pre-sales solution architect for an IT company, said his work has always provided him the option to work from home.

“I could work from home full-time. If it weren’t for my internet,” Gilbert said.

The main issue is latency – meaning the amount of time it takes to send a signal from his dish to the satellite and back. It makes real-time communication for things like phone calls using an internet-based platform, video calls, or real-time platform video games difficult.

Gilbert said the first two are critical for him to do his job. He can have his calls forwarded from his office, through an app, but it requires the internet, and he often video conferences with employees based in Chicago and Philadelphia.

“I need to stay connected,” Gilbert said.

It causes other problems, too, in a world that increasingly relies on an internet connection. A few years ago, after there was a spate of break-ins in the area, Gilbert purchased a home security camera, which he has the ability to check remotely. But if the connection drops, the camera must be reset – something its designed to be able to do remotely, Gilbert said, but he’s not usually able to do because of the latency issue.

“In those cases, it’s just dead until I get home and can re-set it. Which isn’t good for a security camera,” he said.

And while his company would allow him to work from home, oftentimes the need to download large reports means it’s not feasible.

Gilbert is also taking classes online through Southern New Hampshire University, for a degree in organizational leadership, and said he often has to go into his office to do the coursework, because his internet is prohibitively slow.

When DSL lines are installed, Gilbert said it will be a game-changer for his family, and he’ll likely begin working from home as many as three days a week, and to be able to work from home on days where the weather is bad, or his son’s school is canceled.

“That means I can be at home when my son gets on and off the bus. It’s an extra hour and a half a week I can be home in the evenings, not commuting, to spend time with my family.”

Gilbert said access to internet is so crucial to his family, they will likely maintain a satellite subscription as a backup   – though he plans to reduce his plan to the smallest data package available – when his family makes the switch to a DSL line.

If you have a “Digital Divide” story  idea please reach out to us at news@ledgertranscript.com. How is this problem affecting you? Your business? Your education? Your family? Your access to services?


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