Lately I have been suffering from a severe lack of internet connectivity.
I live in a fairly rural area outside of Houston on some property (not in a neighborhood). Living on property has many advantages like neighbors are not right on top you, plenty of room for the kids to play without worrying about them wandering in to the street, peace and quiet, and so on. Internet service is not one of those advantages.
Until a few years ago, I was still in dial-up internet service land. In 2005, a wireless provider arrived in town. The way this service works is a square transmitter that looks about the size of a medium pizza delivery box is installed on the outside of the house and is pointed to the tower. In my case, the tower is a cellular tower that has the wireless transmitters mounted on them. This technology is line of site which means things like thick fog can effect quality of service. When everything is perfect, I get around 450-500k down and 350-400k up. Not fast compared to the alternatives available in Houston, but blazing fast compared to dial-up.
This service has mostly worked. I say mostly because I have had 4-5 outages of at least 4 days in duration. Several more outages of a day or two have occurred as well but I don’t even count those anymore. The last outage started 2 weeks ago and ended yesterday, which also explains the lack of new posts during that period. The day the outage began I called tech support and the call went something like this:
Me: Hello, I am one of your customers and my service quit working this morning.
Support Minion: Have you rebooted your computer?
Me: Yes, and my router and your router as well. None of that helps. I believe there is a problem with your tower.
Minion: I don’t think there is anything wrong with the tower, sir. No one else has reported problems.
Me: Most people are at work right now. Doesn’t there have to be someone who reports the problem first? That could be me, in this case.
Minion: Can you press the start menu, open control panel, double-click on network connections and tell me how many connections you see?
Me: The problem is not with my computer. I haven’t changed any settings. The service was working an hour ago and now I can’t even get an address from dhcp.
Minion: Sir, sometimes settings change all on their own.
Me: No they don’t.
Minion: Sir, if you do not allow us to check your settings now and the problem turns out to be your equipment, we will charge you $75 for our service call.
Me: If you waste my time going through this again, and the problem is not my equipment, can I bill you $75?
Minion: Sir, it will be better if you would refrain from being difficult.
Me: Fine, what would you like me to look at.
Three service calls, 5 irate phone calls, one guy climbing the tower and fixing the problem, and two weeks later my service is restored.
Since I am now working with multiple clients and working on the company’s first product, I really need reliable service. My only option from here is a T1. The line is scheduled to be installed at the end of this month. Download speed still won’t match commercial DSL that is available in town, but upload speed will be very respectable.