Don Jones

Tech | Career | Musings

If you followed my mid-2015 Internet travails, then you know that CenturyLink, like most telcos, is barely competent to be in business. The old Scott Adams joke about cable companies employing engineers to couldn’t cut it at the phone company might still be true, but damn, CenturyLink isn’t exactly raising the bar.

A huge part of their problem, in our area especially, is the preponderance of buried wires that were hand-spun from virgin copper by Ma Bell herself. And wrapped in paper. And, as I said, buried. They’re obviously expensive to dig up, and so the cable technicians essentially refuse to believe any cable is broken or damaged unless it is physically shrieking at exactly 2600Hz. At high noon. In harmony.

I want to point out that the previous solution was only arrived at because I convinced a cable tech to detach one of my neighbor’s pairs from their bonded-pair DSL service, connect that pair to my house, and then put my service on that pair. My problems evaporated, proving that it was the goddamn wires all along just like I’d been saying, you… ahem. Sorry.

So the solution was to order bonded-pair DSL service, forcing the company to build out a new pair to my home. Anyway, the neighbors wanted their pair back (greed), and so I’m pretty sure I’ve got one all-new pair (which works) and one all-crap pair (which don’t). But it was basically fine. We mostly had reliable Internet and could finally look into that Netflix thing you’re all going on about all the time. I mean, we had blazing fast 15Mbps. With 1.5Mbps up. Yeah. And don’t give me any crap about how I work in the IT industry – I don’t own a phone company or cable company. If I did, I’d fire everyone and kill myself, I think.

Oh, Cox volunteered to run coax to the house. For $26k. So.

Second aside: We’re literally bracketed by coax and fiber. If these carriers were firing shells at us, they’ve have our range dialed right in by now. It’s just pulling said coax/fiber down the damn street is prohibitively expensive since we only have, like, 16 homes on our road. It’s a rural, desolate area 5 minutes South of the Las Vegas International airport. Like, 10 minutes from Mandalay Bay. Slight sarcasm.

Fast forward to now. A couple of weeks ago, somebody – presumably the county – decided to have a bulldozer go grade the shoulders on our road (we don’t have curbs, so this isn’t difficult). Pretty much everyone in our cul-de-sac lost DSL that day, and it hasn’t been the same since.

Well, not anymore. DSL2 – the crappy, old wires – gave up the ghost, and not only refused to connect faster than 2Mbps, but was obviously leaking packets into the ground. Now, the problem with that is that bonded-pair DSL splits up your traffic more or less evenly across both pipes. When one pipe is leaky, the Internet stops working. 

So CenturyOldTelephoneLink sent a tech out yesterday today, who putzed with the wires for an hour or so in the morning. He got DSL2 to come back on at 8Mbps, and left. Upon which DSL2 failed epically, reconnected at 2MBps again, and practically spewed data into the dirt. If it’d been water, I’d be in jail. It’s a drought here, you know.

A call back to India CenturyLink revealed the fact that they still show a problem with the line. Which they fixed. Allegedly. Only not. Oh, and they can’t have another tech out for a week, because their service sucks so much that they’re all engaged. Even though this has been a recurring problem, was supposed to have been fixed this morning, and is a carry-on from a recurring problem that I had to get corporate involved with to get any action on. I was even assigned to the “Chronic” team, for God’s sake, and that’s not something you ordinarily want. 

Deep breaths.

So I said to myself, “self, you’re not dumb. You used to work for the phone company. You know how this crap works. If one pipe is spewing your data into the ground, just stop using that pipe. DSL1 has been holding steady at 8Mbps, right?” So, pop open the NID, disconnect DSL2…

…and relative bliss. I mean, crappy, 8-down-and-.75-up bliss, to be sure. But relative bliss.

Fun facts: Even though both lines originate at the same CO (which I could hit with a shoulder-mooned rocket, something I briefly considered), and go to the same house, one of them travels almost 11,000 feet (which is too far for decent DSL), while the other travels less than 8,000 feet. It is clearly the goddamn wormhole that DSL2 is passing through en route which is causing the problem. Because I’m assured it isn’t a problem with the wires.

SNR on DSL2 is 10% worse than DSL1, but that can’t be because of the wires. Attenuation on DSL2 is also almost 2x worse than DSL1, but I’m sure it’s the wormhole again. Damn wormholes.

I’m leaving a copy of this in an envelope, attached to the NID, for the technician who may or may not arrive next week to “fix everything.”

So I’m seriously considering a 20Mbps/5Mbps microwave connection on the roof. Like seriously. As in, I have a quote, and no, it ain’t cheap. But I love my house, and we do live in a rural area where “coax” is still a newfangled thang, so it’s pretty much my only option (apart from satellite, which caps you at 10GB of data, which I mean, my cell phone can beat).

So the next time you complain about the price of your Gbps+ cable connection, and their crappy customer service, go… you know. Just go.

5 thoughts on “How @CenturyLink and @CenturyLinkHelp Failed… Again.

  1. martylichtel says:

    “…the preponderance of buried wires that were hand-spun from virgin copper by Ma Bell herself.” LOL. Laughing with you, not at you. Sorry to hear the debacle continues.

  2. Justin King says:

    If it makes you feel any better (it wont), I had a similar debacle with Cox.

    A year ago, we decided we were going to redo our yard, which included digging up parts off the side to lay concrete. Well the tractor dug up that coax including the PVC pipe it was rib through, and shaped it clean in half. Like a IT Christmas tree that pipe sat completely vertical with a frayed end hanging from the top, the other end still under ground.

    So I called Cox, told them the news, made it clear that I knew it wasn’t they fault but I needed the line up asap as I had nothing: no phone, no TV, no internet. Just digital age down time. I begged for the fastest response I could get, which was a week out. Waiting was hard. My 9-11 was down, it barely made them budge.

    At the end of that week a technician came, walked up and said “yeah that’s broken” and left. The ONLY reason his stay later more than 30 seconds is I stopped him mid stride and asked him why on earth they sent him after I clearly described what was going on. He apologized and said they must’ve filled out the ticket wrong. But this time it would be right.

    Only it wasn’t. After demanding that they bump the schedule and move me up because they messed up, the next tech came three days later and did the same thing.

    Apparently the first guy was new, so they sent another tech to validate his findings. To validate that severed copper was dancing in the wind 3 get off the ground in my side yard.

    That’s when I learned Cox sub contacts street work. And they won’t tell you who the contractor is. Nor the timeline. Or even how many are ahead of you. Two weeks in and all I could be told was “yeah it’s down, the dispatch team had been notified”.

    I was without internet, phone, and TV for over a month. The kicker? The distribution point for the block was in my neighbors front yard. Less than 100 feet. When the team arrived they were done inside 30 minutes…

    … CHOC fished reconnecting 3 days later.

    1. Justin King says:

      i swipped the above on my phone. some of the words are … interesting as a result.

  3. Ed Aldrich says:

    Couldn’t sign in to post the following comment!

    “I am reading this as I ride the ferry from my island home enroute to a meeting with Cox… To explore service options beyond the adsl service (2mbps/784k on a good day), which OBTW is only available to half the homes on the island due to a cap on connections due to max’d capacity. I feel your pain. TV White Space tech would be easy to implement, giving us a whopping 10/10mbps to all of our 500 homes. Unfortunately it is $1,000 per end point for the hardware… I’m hoping that Cox may have some alternative ideas using the higher throughput of a microwave based system but I’m not optimistic. Suffice it to say that I feel your pain.”

    Sent from Outlook Mobile

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