Broadband Hell

I’ve been out of commission for a while and yes, it was AT&T – need I say more.

AT&T and I have been in this love/hate relationship for a long while.  First, when I moved in, I had nothing but problems with their POTS lines (Plain Old Telephone Service).  They were up, then down, then up again and down again.  I used to laugh whenever it rained because I knew the lines would surely go down and they never disappointed.

I initially thought I lived in a remote part of the state with Mountain Lions and Bobcats and Bears, oh my.  Sure, this is California and parts of this state could easily qualify as the Wild, Wild West but here?  Not really.  No, we have mountains, hills, and critters for sure but my guess is this part of town is a little harder to wire for new technology.  I feel for a lot of these guys because how do you set up new tech alongside old tech, the aforementioned POTS lines?

I’m sure there are plenty of patches, band aids, workarounds and more that were set up long ago and the new guys are probably running into a lot of that trying to update those old boxes and wires.  Unfortunately, it is what it is and it’s the very thing I ran into years ago when I started out with DSL.  It was Pacific Bell (PacBell) then, before the SBC merger and the now AT&T.  Yep, back to one.  Anyway, it might have been early 1999 or 2000 when I signed up for DSL.  There were problems, lots of them, and one day I saw 8-10 men in my yard and in my house trying to figure out how to connect my DSL.  It finally worked and it was slow but certainly better than my dial-up modem.

Just like the phone, I could count on DSL being down on rainy days, sometimes sunny days, sometimes hot days, and there were times it was down because it was out on a drinking binge.  Dependable?  Not really.  In the last few years it has been stable but, yes, I had days without service.

Earlier this year, I took the plunge and upgraded to their higher speed service to work from home remotely and I needed the speed for uploading/downloading videos and streaming.  Before going over to U-verse, I wanted to gauge how well the service worked.  Is it dependable and stable?  Bottom line, not really, particularly after that car had a most unfortunate meet-up with one of their boxes.  Since then, the service has been intermittent and last week, it went down for almost a week.  There is nothing like preparing to work and sitting down at the computer to find blinking red lights on the box.  Sure, I have a backup, my personal hotspot, and it worked well but it’s nothing like having a working un-metered box.

After talking to a few people I learned I’m not the only one feeling the burn of coming home to a blinking box when needing to work in the wee hours of the morning.  Many have two services.  Some have fancy and elaborate setups and gamers, well gamers are insane.  I love ‘em but they’re insane.  Brilliant idea?  Yes.  As one friend put it, “I lose money when I can’t work.”  Yes, substantially more than the few dollars a day offered by AT&T, when they offer it.  Yeah, it sucked.

So now I have three services, separate and apart from the other.  When one goes down I can switch to the others.  Granted, there will be earthquakes, power outages, and various and sundry man-made or natural disasters.  Those I get and can very well understand.  However, when it’s down because someone didn’t flip a switch, dropped the ball, didn’t show up for appointments, tell you after the fact your service call was put on hold for other mysterious reasons, didn’t feel it necessary to tell customers to expect a delay in repairing something or worse, when customer service doesn’t know what the heck is going on, it’s time to stop putting all my eggs in one basket.

We’ve come a long way since those days of dial-up modems with the unforgettable sounds.  It was not that long ago.  The day will surely come when upload/download speeds will be much faster than anything we see now.  We’ll probably have a single antenna on our homes that can grab anything over-the-air and you won’t need big bulky boxes or pieces of equipment other than that small antenna.  In the meantime, I will continue to suffer with that horrible question asked each time I sit down to my desk “are the lights blinking?  Is the service up?”

Ahhh, do I remember this.

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