Nov 19, 2012

West Virginia to Tennessee

Our first day took us down the middle of West Virginia, through beautiful Monongahela National Forest, and out Rt. 79. A few patches of snow still hold out on the higher mountains, but the weather all day was very warm which made for a pleasant drive.

Armed with Amanda's Verizon Droid Bionic smart phone, we kept an eye on cell strength throughout the state: 1x call strength, and a non-existant data connection. Amanda joked that we'd know when we were reaching the state line when 3G returned on the phone-- she was, however, dead on. A few miles from the boarder we could easily stream video, and as we moved into Kentucky there was a steady 3G connection that grew into 4G LTE closer to Lexington. 

The website SpeedTest.net allows you to easily measure the speed of your internet connection on a computer or smart phone, and as a rough way of gauging what's possible in an area I'll be taking unscientific screenshots of the results I get on the road. Today's results really floored me:

kbps is an annoying way to think about speed, I should've switched to Mbps-- I'll do that next time. For now though, just divide by 1000: 2.1 Mbps, 9.7 Mbps, and 14 Mbps


All of these tests were generated on a smartphone driving down a major freeway outside the heart of the cities listed. We were driving past Morhead, KY when the Cincinnati connection was made, for example, so I believe the results aren't taken in any ideal situation. 

I wish I had taken a screen shot of my connection back home first (on a line of sight home connection, mind you), but I performed one a week ago that was roughtly 1.3 Mbps down and .8 Mbps up. For those of us starving for a reasonable speed the numbers I got today really jump out, but to put it in perspective for everyone else with a solid connections at home: all this essentially means today the internet was up to 14x faster on my cell phone going 70 MPH down the freeway than it is at my home (that is not on wheels) on a connection I pay twice as much for. 

And how's this for further dispare, this is the speed test I did over the wifi at the Days Inn outside Nashville:


It's like I've never downloaded cat gifs so fast in my life. 

The road through West Virginia is beautiful, but it's clear from the housing and shops along the way that very little growth or prosperity remains these days. Amanda and I marveled throughout our drive at the beautiful old buildings, clearly build during a different time, that are slowly falling apart due to disrepair. I know little about the industry or economy of West Virginia, but it's easy to imagine someone growing up in the area and wanting to stay, but being forced to find work elsewhere in the country. A strong communications network could allow young people to stay to rebuild the area and new residents to live in a place they connect with. 

Tomorrow we'll be making our way closer to Texas!