Rollo, this series was on a while ago and all about the wildlife here. It concentrated more on the inner hebrides rather than "up north" where i am but lovely wildlife.
In the hebrides
We have a landline as well as mobiles, but I always carry a fully charged spare mobile battery with me as well in case the one in the phone goes flat. I only have PAYG but take it everywhere with me as I think it is a necessity for safety. Otherwise, if your car ends up in a ditch for whatever reason and isn't visible from the road, how are you going to get help if you are unable to get out of your car? The hours before you are found could make all the difference if you are injured.
You can get wind up mobile chargers.
Also there is a wind up mobile prototype.
The only reason I would buy a cell phone would be for the reason you cite ................... safety when driving
However .......................... when you live in a country as large as Canada, with such widespread distances between communities, it is very difficult to get the companies to install towers where there is almost 0 users.
For example ...................... we have some property about 7 hours drive away from us. All but the last 60 km is on the MAJOR highway north.
The only cell phone coverage we can depend on is during the first 200 km (although it can be intermittent in places).
There is no coverage at all in the next 100 km or so of the most dangerous stretch of road .......................... through a narrow precipitous river valley in a mountain range. That's even though there are several communities of 1,000+ people, several First Nations Reserves, and even a hospital in the valley.
For the remaining 300 or so km, there is intermittent cell coverage around the largest of the small communities (ie, those with more than about 1,500 people).
Finally, the last 60 km (a combination of paved and gravel roads) has some coverage. There is none at all at the property, or anywhere near it.
The very mountainous terrain makes it difficult to get any service many times.
Most of Canada is lightly populated ............. and cell phone companies have to make money.
I don't know what the situation is in other countries with large stretches of empty country, such as Australia or South Africa
Radio telephones are still often the main communication to the outside by isolated communities in the North and Arctic regions
The only solution here is a satellite phone .......... with its horrendous costs.
I honestly think that many people in the UK do not appreciate the difficulties faced by people who live in more isolated places, like Florence, and even myself in what seems to be a very advanced country ................... until you get 50 km away from a big city!
Sylvia, you are so right. people who live in the city have no idea what its like not having access to things like full mobile coverage. There is a stretch not far from me(about 20 miles) and the vodaphone signal is nil. If you break down down in that area, your only chance of help is to walk to the nearest house(which are few and far between) and hope someone is in so you can use their landline! of course payphones are virtually extinct now but were a life saver to some.
i do always have my mobile in my car as being remote and having broken down in the middle of the moor recently, it got me help when i needed it. But its at home and especially old people who live alone where there has to be a 100% reliable communication system whatever the weather so we can keep in touch.
In the hebrides
our daughter and some friends, used to worry like mad when we went to the property for 2 or 3 weeks at a time .................... because they knew that we could not call out for help.
Plus, I have never driven ............... so we only have one driver.
However ...................... there is a small holiday cottage development on the shores of a lake about 15-20 km further down the road, and it is amazing how many cars pass the farm gate on their way there. They still would not be able to use a cell phone, but they could get us out in a pinch.
What has always bothered me more is the fact of that small hospital in the valley I talked about in my previous post. There is no cell phone service there
The powers-that-be decided that emergency should only be open between 8 am and 5 pm. Then they took away the emergency phone that could be used to call a local nurse "out-of-hours"
That left a pay phone.
Then the phone company disconnected that phone because it wasn't being used enough.
That means that anyone who follows the Hospital sign after hours cannot actually get any help!
There are some horrendous accidents on that road ......... the highest point of the road is almost 400 m above the river, and it's a very steep fall down!
Google Jackass Mountain, and look at the wikipedia entry.
An Immarsat stellite phone can be bought from around £ 400 with monthly top up fee starting at £ 15. It is also possible to get a usable internet satellite connection from about £ 50 / month.
The cost of the installation of hundreds of miles of telegraph poles and copper to remote settlements is and was extremely expensive. It has historically been carried under the public service remit. With the fragmentation of the telecoms market operators are keen to find a way out of these costs, such as by degrading the POTS service.
Many third world countries are not bothering with the classic wired solution at all but going straight to cellphone.
The telephone, telegraph and its successor the internet were and are designed for high density populations, not connecting far flung settlements. Historically this has been possible but in the future those living in remote areas are likely to have to shift for themselves a lot more now that alternatives to POTS are available.
So under your scenario, isolated communities are not only going to be economically deprived, but technology deprived also?
The costs involved with your suggestions aren't necessarily affordable for the majority. Let’s hope that you turn out to be wrong, or if you are right government initiative will find a cheaper option or subsidise it. It isn't as if GB has the land mass of the Third World countries to which you are drawing a parallel.
I am not by any means advocating that remote communities ( whether in the Scottish islands or remote parts of Canada or anywhere else ) should suffer from degraded communications, far from it. fwiw I have plenty of practical experience of the problems.
What were previously monopoly organisations, often state owned, are now mostly private sector utilities whose primary responsibility is towards their shareholders. The former owner ( the state ) has relied on an ongoing duty to maintain a universal public service. Unsurprisingly the new telcos are nibbling away at this duty the more so as new technology offers alternatives to POTS.
In the UK for instance government hopes that the private sector would provide a universal high speed internet service have come to nought and even with a 100% subsidy only one commercial provider has chosen to provide a service - BT OpenReach - to rural communities. Rutland which has done its own thing.
Traditional telephone service is dying on its feet both in the workplace and to residential addresses. People under 30 hardly ever use a traditional phone except maybe to call grandma. A large share of those who could plug in a traditional phone don't bother, using the connection for internet/tv only - despite having to pay £ 15/month for phone service anyway! As well as cellphone / mobiles voip ( Skype, Vonage ) is taking away the market.
So in the end it is a matter of economics. The telcos do not want to provide POTS service and are both degrading it and closing access to it e.g. payphones, new build. The current "public service" obligation falls far short of what people in remote areas want.
The question is to what extent the state is prepared to push telcos to maintain and even improve POTS service and to what extent the state may be prepared to increase subsidy.
The more transparent these subsidies become the more the resistance will build. Residents of Glasgow and Vancouver may not care much about the communications problems of Stornoway and the Yukon.
The virtual POTS numbering scheme will remain in place far longer than physical copper connections virtualised across voice ip networks as has already happened to most of it.
My guess is that the traditional remote landscape vistas of telegraph poles snaking away into the distance will slowly disappear.