Upgrading Technology again


Upgrading technology is never, ever, easy. Never. Ever.

I now have Cox cable internet. I've had it for about three hours. It's very fast--about 7M download and 870k upload. The cable guy was supposed to come this morning between 8 and 10. He showed up at about 11:45 and said he didn't have time to do the job. I bitched about it and he agreed to come back at 5pm, which surprised me. He finished at about 7 after pulling cable through the ceiling. He left four holes in the ceiling, but that's nothing new.

Unfortunately, I'm no longer getting a signal on the TV. Apparently he messed up the splitting of the cable. Somebody is scheduled to come Tuesday afternoon to fix the TV. *sigh*

I gotta say, though, this has been a helluva lot easier than getting dsl was some six years ago. We were on the bleeding edge of that technology, being one of the first neighborhoods in which dsl was available. I went through 5 months of "dsl hell".

Back then, Verizon wasn't offering dsl--our only option was Covad. Covad wasn't an ISP (Internet Service Provider) yet, so I contacted Covad and they gave me a choice of a few ISPs with whom they worked. I chose Fastpoint--you've probably never heard of Fastpoint: they went bankrupt during the time we were trying to get the dsl.

I wasn't surprised when they went bankrupt, considering the way they did business. Here's how it worked: having chosen Fastpoint, I was to have no further contact with Covad. I had to deal only with Fastpoint, and Fastpoint only communicated with Covad by email. The Fastpoint customer service people actually claimed to have no way of contacting Covad by phone. When they sent email to Covad, Covad had 24 hours to respond.

Verizon had to come to my house and put in a second phone line, but I couldn't contact Verizon myself to do that--only Covad could deal with Verizon for the dsl installation. So I contacted Fastpoint, who contacted Covad, who contacted Verizon, to set up a date for someone from Verizon to come to my house. This process was so broken that I stayed home from work on FOUR SEPARATE DAYS waiting in vain for someone from Verizon to show up. By the fourth day I was beside myself with rage. On each of the four days I called Fastpoint, becoming increasingly shrill I assure you, but all they could do was send email to Covad and wait 24 hours for a response.

I couldn't contact Covad myself--the only "customer service" number they had was sales. I spent one entire morning trying to get hold of someone at Verizon who knew something, anything, about this process, and I failed.

During the process Fastpoint went bankrupt, as I was saying, and I had to choose a different ISP and start all over again. I chose Flashcom, and before Flashcom went bankrupt they signed me up for dsl with both Covad and Northpoint. After I finally got the second phone line Covad came out and put dsl hardware on one of the lines, and Northpoint came out and put dsl hardware on the other line, and I had no line on which I could make a phone call.

I called Verizon on my cell phone, and they sent a service guy who said he couldn't do anything because he wasn't allowed to touch the dsl equipment, since it wasn't Verizon's equipment. I begged him, literally begged him, to take the dsl hardware off one of the lines. I explained to him what a pain it was to deal with the ISP and dsl people, and he took pity on me and disabled the Northpoint hardware. I blessed him. I offered him a beer. When he refused the beer I gave him a coke.

Shortly after the dsl was up and running Flashcom went bankrupt too. Again, no big surprise! At that time Covad decided to set themselves up as an ISP, so I had a choice of using Covad for both the ISP and the dsl provider, or choosing yet another ISP. I went with Covad, to reduce the level of insanity by one order of magnitude. Eventually it was up and running. Covad went bankrupt, but they stayed in business through the process. I couldn't blame them--they were owed money by Fastpoint, Flashcom, and a host of other ISPs that had gone bankrupt.

The strangest thing about it may be that the Covad dsl connection proved to be remarkably reliable. In the five or six years I had it, I think it only went down one time. Unfortunately at some point Covad decided to focus on providing services for businesses only. About a year ago 128k just didn't seem fast enough anymore, and Covad wasn't offering any upgrades for individual customers. I was probably one of their last holdouts--when I called to regretfully cancel the service the customer service rep was very friendly and made no attempt to talk me out of it.

About a year ago I switched to Verizon for a connection that was both faster and cheaper. Alas, a cheap, reliable connection is not fast, a fast, reliable connection is not cheap, and a fast, cheap connection is not reliable. When the Verizon connection was working well it was good--about 760k download, 68k up. When the Verizon connection was bad it was very, very bad. It seemed as though the servers were down at times when I most wanted to get online--Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, no internet.

So, now I have cable internet. It's fast. It's more expensive than Verizon dsl but less than I was paying Covad. It remains to be seen how reliable it will be. Oh, and there's the problem with the TV. Maybe I can have a fast, fairly cheap, reliable connection but not if I also want to watch TV. I'll just have to wait and see how this turns out.

July 2012

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