I'd venture to guess not many of us moved to Steamboat Springs because we could get blazing gigabit speed on our giant phablet so we can binge watch seasons of Orange Is The New Black while tubing the Yampa. The truth is, the interenet (mobile and in the home) isn't just for chatting or shopping or education anymore, but has become a utility in most of our lives, even way up here in the mountains.
Like electricity at the light switch, we expect it to be there, even when we are enjoying the outdoors and all the beauty of our amazing north fork valley. Running businesses, online distance learning, and staying in contact with family across the globe are all some of the modern conveniences we NEED all this connectivity for, and increasingly we're not willing to give it up to move somewhere beautiful. So the question is, how does Steamboat stack up, and will you suffer the snap-crackle-pop,buuuuzzzz of dial-up from the 90's if you move here?
Let me broad stroke it by saying 'No', living in Steamboat won't have you stuck waiting for a clean dial-up connection so you can check your electronic mail and make a voice call on your motorola star-tac, but if you come from larger metropolitan areas where instant handheld browsing, click and watch video out of your Facebook feed, Facetiming and video Skyping are a way of life, you may be disappointed. Speeds from a wire in your house broadcast through a wifi router offer a more standard set of capabilities, but even 10 minutes outside Steamboat proper, and you'll encounter stiff compromises.
A casual poll around the office among my fellow Realtors, nearly all of whom use their smartphone at all hours of the day for both business and pleasure, yielded a rather firm consensus: "It's not as fast as a city, but I make it work." Where I noticed dissent from this view is if you travel anywhere outside the 10 minute 'Steamboat bubble' or off Rt. 40 by only a few miles, often to look at angelic pastoral mountain properties. "Once you leave pavement, don't count on it." was a common sentiment that has become part of living in the high rockies, even in 2015, even 10 miles from a world-class ski resort.
With a local company providing beamed "WiMax" interenet from mountaintops to your rural cabin, some of this struggle can be abated if you're in certain areas, and cell-phone boosters for voice calls on vehicles and houses also offer some relief, as do expensive satellite options. However, we're still living in a place where you can live "out there" and be disconnected from the web and mobile signals and all of the intense life-buzzing that comes with it. This is an amazing thing for some, an acceptable trade-off for most of us who use the interenet nearly everyday for business, and I fear it could be a dealbreaker to the next home-buying generation of millenials building wealth and looking to live in beautiful places without sacrificing their connectivity. The build-out and strenthening of the infrastructure is happening, albeit slowly, with the addition of a new cell tower here and there, the laying of fiber optic cable in the city limits, but for the majority of rural properties, the slower way of life just minutes from town, looks to be safe and sound for some time where face-to-face still remains the fastest connection speed.
This article in the WSJ got me thinking about it: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB11064341213388534269604581077972897822358