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Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Internet Catastrophe....and It's Not Over Yet!

In the early years of dial up modems, the internet used to disappear or be down periodically.  Everyone would rant and scream, even though it was in its infancy and we had no idea what far out boundaries the internet would actually reach.  Besides emailing and texting, now we pay our bills over the internet, we look up every question we can imagine by googling it, we have facebook for our friends and businesses, twitter to get the latest news in 140 characters (plus maybe a picture attached) and hordes of applications for shopping, playing games, downloading EBooks and on and on.

So several weeks ago the internet connection at my house began to fade in and out periodically. I work out of my home and I had put off posting on twitter until after dinner.  When I switched on the computer it said “No Service”.  Piqued, I went to the cell phone:  “No  Service”.  Upstairs there was a computer with a DSL land line: “No service”.  I decided to wait until later.  Later was the next morning.  It was on when I awoke at 6 am.  But it went out about 8 am.  I tried rebooting the modem.  But I also have a signal booster and it was making angry red flashes.  When I tried rebooting that it went red for everything except power.

Now I am left with one alternative – call the service provider.  Verizon is a company that has grown tremendously large over the years.  They are now so large that hardly anyone can help you.  Time after time I have spent hours on the telephone with them to really get nowhere.  Call this number they say.  And when you do you spend at least 30 minutes on hold and the company says they are not the correct department after all.  But they give you another number to call.  The same experience repeats over and over until you give up.  So I was not looking forward to having to call Verizon.

Numerous phone calls resulted in about four hours of my time (one half of a work day) wasted.  The first time I got a live person on the phone I asked if there was an outage.  He said no.  He again had me test all the equipment and couldn’t find a problem.  I didn’t feel it was my equipment because it had all failed at one time – usually all four tires on your car don’t go at once.  But he referred me to another number.  This time the number was a pre-programmed message about things you can try.  At the end of the message it asked me if I would like to take a survey.  Yes, I did and gave my opinion that so far they were a zero.

The next day I decided to try one more time and managed to get a live person.  She was very nice and insisted we do an advanced check of the modem.  That meant I had to go into the equipment room and disconnect the cellular and the Ethernet routers, hook a portable wireless computer to the modem, and sit for an hour going through steps read to me over a portable phone.  It was about 80 degrees in the equipment room.  I was sweating by the time we were through.  She informed me that we had “an outage”.  I said that I had asked that question before all this time (my free time) spent on the problem and had been told there was not “an outage”.  She apologized and asked if I wanted to take a survey.  I said no.

There was then a recorded message the next day that  “there was an outage”.   I had had it.  I do most of my communication through the internet. I spend at least fifty percent of every day  using my computer.  I would drive down the street until I could pick up cell service and check my messages and answer  those that were most important on my hand held smart phone.  I called a lot of people that I usually messaged.  Now my business office had moved to my car using the minicomputer smart phone.  I went to the library to work, to Starbucks and McDonald’s, and down the street to hook onto a neighbor’s network – she let me sit in the backyard with a portable computer.

So finally I was tired of living out of my car and other’s back yards.  I researched other internet providers and noticed that Direct TV advertised 99 percent signal dependability.  We had had Direct TV for years and in the beginning it was out a lot.  But for the past several years it had turned itself around and was hardly ever out.  So I called them and they said they would send someone out to set up a new internet service that was wireless.   Meanwhile I had never heard from Verizon again and still had “No Service”.

Direct TV technicians arrived promptly on time, with a 30 foot ladder to get up on the second story  roof. They worked with my husband (who is an electrical contractor) to understand our in house electrical wiring system and protect the roof tile from breakage.  Up the ladder they went to the second story, mounted a new dish to pick up the internet signal, pushed the wire down the metal tube meant for such into the electrical room, and hooked it onto their new modem.  Presto!  We had internet after being down for a whole week!

About one hour after we had our new wireless internet service, Verizon came back on line with cellular service (I don’t know about internet because we were disconnected from them at that point).  I logged on to “My Verizon” page and chose “Make changes to your service”.  Immediately a message came on the screen  “We have noticed that you have had outages.  We recommend you change to FIOS (a new division of Verizon that is hooked to you by high speed cable.) When I typed in my telephone number associated with the account, they gave me a number to call, saying they could not service my request over the computer. That person (when I reached them) did take my order to take my internet service off my bill but tried to continually sell me FIOS.  Sorry, I was already connected to Direct TV now.

While I had hoped this would be the end of the story, it turns out that satellite wireless (at least by Direct TV Hughes) will not allow your security cameras to be accessed by the internet.  (They are working on the problem).  Four hours of calls to them got me a sorry, but cannot help you.  So it's off to another internet company next week.

I cannot understand why communication is so poor with these companies.  Direct TV spent a lot of money installing the equipment that I am now going to cancel.   And with Verizon, I hate to be paranoid but I was the only one on my street to be without internet for a week.  However, we are the last house on the street.  But they had been trying to sell us FIOS for over a year.  It isn’t possible that they interrupted our service just to get our attention, is it?  And the government doesn’t spy on us either, does it?  And I still don't have the reliable internet service I want..