It’s been over five years since I moved to Ananda Village. In 2001, when my wife and I had decided to move here, we also had to figure out our job situation.
She was a nurse back then and it wasn’t hard for her to find a similar job in Grass Valley. I was (and still am) a Software Engineer and I knew that there weren’t too many high-tech companies in the area. But, I knew that I could telecommute as long as I managed to get a decent connection to the Internet. When I talked to my boss about six years ago and told her that I was going to move to Northern California, I also told her that I would have understood if the company didn’t want to keep me if it thought the remote arrangement would not work. I told her I wouldn’t have any hard feelings if they had to let me go. Lucky for me, she was very supportive, especially when I mentioned that I was moving into a yogic community. She also told me that she has been meditating for 20 years, which she had not mentioned before.
A few months before our move to Ananda Village, I started exchanging some emails with Kent Williams about my options for connecting to the Internet. Dial-up and satellite were the only two. I knew that the dial-up link would not be sufficient to be able to effectively perform my duties. It would have worked perhaps as a backup if the other link went down. So, I started investigating the satellite option. That wasn’t ideal either, because it wouldn’t have allowed me for a “real-time” connection due to delays of satellite links.
During one of my visits to Expanding Light in late 2001, Kent introduced me to Ric, who runs Ananda Bell. During that visit I found out that Ananda Village operated its own phone company. Apparently, many years ago Ananda Village had purchased a phone switch, much like one that might be used by a large corporation for their office buildings. With the purchase of this switch along with some business arrangements with the phone company, the phone lines within the village boundary had also became the property of Ananda Village. I don’t think anybody (except Master) probably knew that this was a major milestone in Ananda’s broadband Internet history. Without the existence of this switch and the ownership of these landlines, it would not have been possible for us to have DSL service.
During my discussions with Kent and Ric, I realized that the very products that my company sells could also be used to bring DSL service to this community. There were many details to iron out but suffice it to say that in April 2002, with an additional T1 line that was brought to Ananda Village by SBC/PacBell (now AT&T), we were able to start a pilot DSL service to a handful of “beta” customers. During the past five years, that number has grown to over a hundred DSL connections serving not only the entire community of over 200 people, but also some of our neighbors who are able to receive Internet service through Ananda Bell with the use of line-of-sight radios and antennae.
It is not common for a rural community to have this sort of fortune, as high-speed internet access is typically not possible without expensive investment (satellite links and such) for individual homes. Ananda Village residents, however, can enjoy decent Internet access for as little as $15/month.
Looking back and reflecting on the sequence of events that led to this fortune, I can’t help but think that Master must have influenced the minds of the decision makers in the village at the time to steer them toward the direction of purchasing this phone switch knowing that one day the DSL technology would become available and would enable us to provide DSL service through our ownership of the copper lines. I am grateful to Master for giving me the opportunity to serve in this manner and for giving me the ability to play some role in these sequence of events.