The flakiest utility

For the past few months the household’s Internet connection has been very undependable, dropping for hours at time and necessitating a trip upstairs to the Westell DSL modem, which gets unplugged, recycled, and then spazzes for the rest of the day, gaining and losing its connection every few minutes.

The hysterics this engenders is amazing. The gamers upstairs can’t play Xbox Live and shoot virtual foes in Halo or Call of Duty. My wife can’t check her email from her downstairs desk, and me, I just use my EVDO connection to bypass the whole mess and ignore the howls for a better internet connection.

Being the household’s IT manager is the fact of my weekends and sorting out a bad Internet connection is always a predictable hell of Control Panel, Network Settings, trips to the Westell’s admin console, and eventually, a long phone call with Verizon support.

If any other utility was as freaky — say if the electricity browned out a few hours every evening, or the satellite TV went snowy — there would be hell to pay, and last night, the household finally mutinied on me and demanded a “Better Internet.”

So I got on the phone with Verizon and spent 90 minutes as they ran diagnostics and I read back screens and did what they told me too. I stated, right from the beginning, that I suspected the modem was due to be replaced or upgraded, but of course they had to walk me through the scripts: “Are you sure it is plugged in? Are you using the Verizon supplied cable? Are there any other devices connection to the wall jack? Is there a 2.4 ghz wireless phone in the house. Are you running Windows XP? Is there a firewall active?”

The upshot was the modem is grabbing “too high of an internet address” — something in the 150 range — and I indeed need to buy a new modem.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad phone experience — they were able to run remote diagnostics on my line and device and spare me the usual hell of trying to play human modem between what was on my screen and their ears, and I never had to crawl under the desk, phone wedged between shoulder and ear, feeling blindly for ports and reset buttons.

Now, if only FIOS would come to town …. Or, if I could get Lenovo to foot the tab for a T1 to the house. Connectivity on Cape Cod is getting better. Ten years ago I had the first ISDN line installed on the Cape and drove the AT&T technicians insane.  That went away when Comcast offered cable modem connectivity, and then Comcast went away when the news that the new switch up the street by the Ropes Field had brought DSL within installation distance.

I want more. I want more speed, more stability, and a happy household of fully wired spouse and offspring so I can regain my precious downtime and not worry about viruses, low ink cartridges, and printers that won’t network.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “The flakiest utility”

  1. Ungowah, from Las Vegas my caucasodian brother,

    When I had DSL it would go down faster than Anna Nicole Smith or any oT her relations. the reason, as it turned out, was in the time between when I first subscribed and when I woke up the DSL manager four monts latere in his home at 10 at night, a new subdivision had been built in San Mateo between my tiny condo on the water and the CO. And the bastards at PacBell had routed the table around the periphery of the condo, adding exactly enough running length to render my DSL out of range by some obscure number like 75 feet. I was seriously annoyed until I found a way to piggy back on the local fire departments 802.11 mesh network. (thank God for Demo clients)

    Be well and since you do so much tech support change your name to Pradheep and route all the Churbuckian tech support requests through a switch in Mumbai.

    All hail skyrockets,

  2. i’d kill for even flaky internet up in Maine. unfortunately, because Georgetown’s technically an island (connected by bridge) – and a sparesly populated one at that – none of the would-be providers have seen fit to grace us with the miracle of high speed internet. best we have ATM is Cingular’s EDGE service, which is marginally better than DSL. marginally.

    it’s bad enough that i’m actually debating whether or not to drop in satellite this summer. much as those connections are hyper-flaky, it would save me a.) the cost of a co-op office, and b.) the effort of commuting.

    we shall see.

  3. I had DSL back in SF in 1999, and had very similar problems…glad to see that DSL has worked itself out 🙂 I have since gone with Cable (Time Warner), and have been marginally satisfied with the service, I still get intermittent hiccups, stalls etc…but generally it is on and reliable…Although, I cannot wait for FIOS to hit my neighborhood…next addition to the network = SLINGBOX

  4. If it is available to you, I strongly recommend I have had them for years (been a beta tester for them as well). I have a screaming 10MB connection, can’t recall the last time is went dead, and the support is really fabulous. Also, I have had the same IP address for more than 18 months even though I don’t pay for a dedicated line.

  5. Yep I more or less know what you are going through, my Apple Airport wasn’t that stable in the past so whenever the family went down I switched to Vodafone UMTS to continue working 🙂 Now I downgraded (!) the firmware of the Airport two levels and it is as stable as one would expect it to be, so I don’t hide in UMTS anymore at home, playing innocent “I have no problems, everything is working fine for me!” and everybody is happy with the Internet connection again.
    As for calling helpdesks that have to go through their scripts…. been there done that, I don’t call those anymore, will sort it out myself or otherwise open a webticket, not going to spend my time on the phone with some remote outsourced helpdesk simply running scripts.

  6. We’ll see what they send. Just cost me $80 — device unspecified. I don’t see how a hardware failure would cause the old modem to seize “too high” of an IP. Makes no sense to me, but then again, I’m not a DSL engineer now, am I?

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