Friday, January 19, 2007

Our internet service at home is teh su><><0rz.
We have a cable modem. The service goes out if it gets too wet or too cold. Or too dry or too hot.
Or too cloudy or too sunny.
Also, they seem to enjoy doing "maintenance" without warning in the evening, specifically evenings when I have stuff to do.
They cap both downloads and uploads and the support people never know as much about their own systems as I do.

"I'll need you to reboot your computer."
"It isn't my system."
"Just reboot and see what happens."
"I can tell you what will happen. I'll reboot, sitting here on the phone and watching the boot screens. then I'll still be able to communicate with my router and it will still talk to your modem. Your modem just isn't getting an IP address because your DHCP system is offline."
"Can you just try rebooting?"
"Fine. But while it boots, tell me a story . . . "

They offer a "Premium" service for almost twice what we pay now. I called them Thursday to get details.

"Does the service go down less often?"
"It runs on the same infrastructure and so benefits from our excellent uptime record."
"Do I get a static IP?"
"No. Wait, let me check." Hold music, hold music, hold music . . . "No."
"Can you define 'Premium'?"
"We remove some of the downstream and upstream traffic management."
"So," I knew this was going nowhere, "You give me the full service I'm already paying for?"
"Also you get an extra email account."

A co-worker complained about the sales pitch he had gotten while having his local phone service installed. The installer had tried to sell him high-speed, fiber optic to the home TV and crazy fast internet and he had refused.
I, however, was sold.
So I braved the poorly designed and non-technically descriptive AT&T website, hunting for the high-speed offering. I found a service (available four places on the planet -- one of them HERE!) called UVerse which offered the bundled services through an awesome fiber link. Forty-five minutes later (having been unsuccessful at ordering the service online) I found a number to call.
Due to an unusually high call volume, there was a wait. However, my call was answered in the order in which it was received.
Just having a few questions about the service, I set about emotionally destroying the person on the other end of the line.

"I noticed the service comes with a wireless router to replace my own, what can you tell me about that?" I asked.
"It allows you to connect computers without wires."
"Okay," I started, "That's awesome. Is it B or G?"
"What do you mean?"
"I want to make sure I'm not downgrading. Does the router use 802.11B or 802.11G?"
"Hang on, I'll ask."
He put me on hold before I could ask him the rest of the technical questions.
When he came back, he told me it was G, so it wouldn't be a downgrade. Maybe.
"Who has the password?"
"To what?" he asked.
"To the router. I'm asking because I'd like to know who controls the settings. Can I set my own encryption code or is that stored in a poorly locked database somewhere? Can your people get in and mess up my port forwarding? Am I allowed to set up VPN tunnels and establish my own internal addressing scheme?"
There was a moment of silence.
"Can I just transfer you to Technical Support?"
"That's probably a good idea."
"So, you aren't ordering the service today?"
"I think I need a lot more information," I said.

The tech who eventually answered after I was transferred was able to answer a few more questions, but was surprised that I had even been routed to him since I do not have the service and (aside from my Cingular phone) am not an AT&T customer.
Even technical support eventually cracked and gave me the link to the manufacturer of the router.
I did my own technical research and the service looks awesome (as long as I never need to call for support). It costs $50 to install with the amazing TV service, but when I asked if there was a guarantee that there would be something good to watch, they broke and offered to install the internet service without the TV for $95.
$95 exceeds our current internet installation budget by almost $100, so I'm holding off for now.
Someday, the internet will be delivered to my house at the speed of light!
More importantly, the wireless router they provide has a blue LED on the front to indicate when the connection is "awesome".


Katy said...

We've had Time Warner supplying our cable extravaganza for...7.5 years now. And the first three or four years, we had tons of downtime. And the service guys were quite often worthless

Then we finally convinced them to lay a new cable. And voila, all better.

As for download speeds, I'm not especially a downloadin' fool, so my 'fast enough for me' may not work for you.

(And yes, J just calls the service line and says 'give me the next level up' before he even starts talking.)

Andrew Moore said...

We're just lucky you choose to use your powers for good slightly more often than for evil.

You chaotic good so-and-so!