As my time in New Zealand starts to wind down there are a few things I am excited to get back to in the States. Pizza, the rest of my wardrobe, my family and friends. But there is one thing that I have missed the more than I miss watching Jeopardy!
Wi-Fi. Or internet access in general.
It was cultural shock coming from the US, where I can go just about anywhere and get a wireless signal, to New Zealand where Wi-Fi is still a hotly treasured commodity. I found there was rarely a place I could go and get a free connection. If I bought a muffin at Starbucks I could get a half hour, but that would most likely be extremely slow due to everyone using their free thirty as well.
So how did I post my blog entries and keep up with email and Facebook? I, prepare yourself for a major shock, paid for internet access! And it wasn’t easy getting it. There are various internet providers and I found that when I went from one hostel to another they wouldn’t all have the same one. This had me opening accounts with at least three different companies.
The a la carte options for internet are great for travelers though. What isn’t great is the amount of money these options cost. Not having paid attention before to the amount of gigabytes I use on a regular base, I foolishly thought I would be able to get by with 560 megabytes a month. I went through that in a day uploading pictures. In the two months I was traveling around the country I tried to find the places I could get some free Wi-Fi, which turned out to mainly be McDonald’s. I’ve never eaten so many Big Macs in my life. When I couldn’t get to a Macca’s (as the Kiwi’s call it) I paid for the service at my hostel…I don’t know how much I spent for internet in just two months and I’m scared to think about it.
And you would think the situation would improve at a residence, but not if you live in certain areas. Where I have been living for the past 7 months we have yet to have Wi-Fi connection at the house. I was told they ran the lines, but for some unknown reason, have not yet offered the service to the locals living in the area.
So, New Zealand, what gives with this whole lack of access to the inter-webs? After a bit of research (a news segment) I learned there is only one under seas connection cable in which all of the countries internet access comes from. For a nation that wants to keep a breast with the change of times and keep with modern technology it has to improve their connection to the rest of the world and a second cable would help with this, create competition and hopefully bring the cost down to something people don’t have to take a second job to fund.
I hope, for all Kiwi’s and visitors sake and sanity, a second cable will soon be funded.