Saturday, February 4, 2012

My home becomes an eighties vision of the future, thanks to Virgin

We've been done. The phone line has been cut, and dangles uselessly on the side wall (below). Our house is now in touch with the big wide world via cable. 

Since the 1980s, I've thought of cable as something Americans have - the system that gave them so many TV channels when we had so few (or so it seemed once we realised how many they had). 

But now my house has not just cable, but fibre optic cable - the version discussed earnestly in the eighties as the shape of things to come: the Holy Grail of home communications. It's the result of the decision I'd made - with anxious second thoughts, as I explained here - to let Virgin provide our TV, phone and broadband. 

While I'd never seen a cable on many trips to the USA, now, through the undergrowth in the front garden a florescent green plastic tube brings the cable to us from an outlet in the pavement.

The tube leads to a enigmatic grey box which has been mounted on our front wall.

Just above it, there's a connection through a specially-drilled hole in the sitting-room wall. On the inside of the wall, the cable is fed through and splits into two: one side goes to the television, with the newly-installed Tivo box beneath it, and the other to the wireless router for the broadband.

Finally, a second wire from the outside box, the phone line, runs below the windows, round the front door and up to where the old phone line went into the house. There, some kind of join between wires is wrapped in a piece of gaffer tape, and so the phones in the house are once more connected to an outside line - now by cable rather than the old telegraph poles. 

Well that's the theory. In practice it wasn't so simple. As I will explain next time.

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