One of the funny things about living in the early 21st century is the fact that, while hooking into the grid for electricity, water, and sewer is not possible throughout much of Howe Sound, hooking up high-speed internet is relatively easy.

To be sure, it’s a little bit more involved than just plugging into the wall and calling up a service provider, but thanks to G.R.I.P. (which stands for Gambier Radio Internet Project), islanders can get online at rates and speeds comparable to the city without the sort of effort you might expect for such a high-tech undertaking.

A few years ago, Gambier Islander Sean Murphy decided that he needed high speed internet access, and so began G.R.I.P. The at-cost community project connects to the mainland using a wireless station on the southern tip of the island to deliver the service via a series of repeater stations that allow the network to penetrate the island’s many bays — even as far away as the north end of Keats and the south end of Anvil island. The network is the information life-line for many islanders who use it to work remotely, and even a few families who home school.

So how does it work? Members are charged a one-time fee of $250 for the initial set-up, which includes the installation of a small receiver unit that allows the user to plug in to the network using a standard connection. Once hooked up, users have an option of purchasing an annual or full time membership for $50 per month, or a seasonal membership that allows you to plug in for 3-6 months of the year at $70 per month. (There is also a $50 re-connection fee each time you plug back in.)

Electricity is a must, of course, but the receiver draws only 3 to 5 watts of power, so it will operate with a standard 120-volt connection, or 12, 24, or 48 volt solar and/or wind-based systems.

For more info visit G.R.I.P. and send Sean an email.

(The image above shows G.R.I.P.’s range, with the areas in red representing strong signal strength, and the areas in blue representing weak signal strength.)