High Speed Internet Access...Still Just A Dream?
April 2, 2000
Two weeks ago, I had a dream that it might be possible for the Paperless One to snag a faster way onto the Net. I got extremely edgy about it after talking to a co-worker, who enjoys free Internet access courtesy of the same dial-up pool that I dial into and have to pay money for. For the past couple months, my Internet service has been a joke: busy signals galore, slow connections, and a general feeling reminiscent of the kind of service I got from my previous ISP before they went under.
Last week, I was optimistic that the dream was about to come to fruition. This week, I am seething more than you could possibly imagine. Here is my tale.
After I found out that Rogers Cable are still slacking, and have no immediate plans to equip my area for digital cable and modem service (I can't say that I would blame them - I'm the only idiot in my area who remains a slave to them - everyone else on my street has one of those small satellite dishes), I checked up on the status of Bell's campaign to extend its SYMPATICO HIGH-SPEED ACCESS to more communities in Ontario. Lo and behold, the plan was a-go! My city was set up!
I entered my location within the city, and I was still confirmed as "ready to go". In a lightning-fast 3 days, a Purolator package arrives at my door, chock full of high speed goodies. There was the 1-meg modem from NORTEL NETWORKS, an Ethernet card that wouldn't configure on my computer even after rehashing everything I tried for over an hour with a tech support rep, and several phone filters, to slap on all of the other phones in my house to cut out line noise from the 1-meg modem.
After unpacking the goodies, I sat down with a coffee, and started setting things up. The physical installation of everything was the easy part - the Ethernet card was a real bitch, though. So much of a bitch that after an hour of trying to configure it, the tech support guy passed the buck to an area "expert", who would get back to me within 3-4 business days.
Screw that, I want to try this puppy out TODAY...on my day off. I'm working for the next "3-4 business days", unlike today, the day where I waited around my house to intercept the magical Purolator package!
It was then that I remembered that I have an extra Ethernet card kicking around from my old computer (that $3000 Compaq paperweight on my desk)! In goes the old Ethernet card...it installs correctly the first time! Sweet...I'm on the Net in seconds, as soon as I reboot and try to connect.
The connection failed, but since I was so delighted that I got it to work THAT FAR, I rang up my good friend in technical support to let him know to call off the team of experts who were about to descend upon my house, and to see if he could fix my comparatively small problem of the timeout.
"Ooops! It seems that your activation date has been moved up to tomorrow by us when we found out you couldn't get your Ethernet card to work. There's nothing we can do for you until tomorrow..."
"Until then, answer the following questions. Are you on a cordless phone? Will you promise to go throw that cordless phone in the nearest landfill site, as it interferes with the magic 1-meg modem? Do you have filters installed on all of your phones in the house? Do you have condoms installed over all of the penises of the phones in the house? Do you have a filter on the modem?"
"Good. You're not supposed to have a filter on the modem...not a coffee filter, not an oil filter, not even one of those Nortel Networks filters. Now answer the rest of these questions only when I say "Simon says"..."
This continued for a few more minutes, long enough for me to miss a call from Bell Canada, who had suddenly figured out, after wasting a grand total of 8.5 precious hours of my day (starting from when I first woke up), that my phone line could never, ever, be part of that elite group of phone lines capable of getting HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS.
This warranted a callback.
That warranted a voice mail message, which warranted a quick callback from the Bell representative, who was very apologetic and cooperative in the matter, considering how annoyed I was with the situation.
She explained to me that my line was connected via a remote switching station, and for that reason was incapable of transmitting to and from the 1-meg modem. She also explained how the oversight wasn't noticed until AFTER they processed my order, AFTER they delivered my modem, AFTER I hooked everything up, AFTER I spent two hours on the phone with technical support staff. That would be for "security reasons".
You see, Bell wouldn't want their SYMPATICO division to know too much about people's phone lines. They would rather have you find out LATER that the system SYMPATICO delivered to you isn't going to work.
I'm sure the SYMPATICO service is excellent (though I may never know...I'm not about to sell my house and relocate in order to get faster Internet access), but I might be less jaded had they not wasted over 8 hours of my busy life.
You do the math...that's almost $200 if I was billing someone for my time.
If only they were more like the cable company. Instead of promising me a rose garden, they could have said what the cable guys say:
You are still shit out of luck. We have no plans to equip your neighbourhood for digital cable or @Home service. If we sense hell freezing over or witness pigs flying, we will be the first to contact you. We know where you live, and know that you'll be desperate for our services once we do get off our lazy corporate asses.
P.S.: If you want to screw up my Internet connection and get on my modem pool (everyone else is!), check out FREELANE by Excite.