Tuesday, November 22, 2005

[Connection speed] Sprint 1 : SBC 0


For the last few months I have been having internet problems making it very difficult to blog. If I tell you I resorted to driving to work with my laptop open in the passenger seat, my post written offline and ready to publish, making sure to pass through a favourite set of traffic lights (Seventh and Folsom) where I had just enough time to connect to a wifi hotspot and publish my post before driving on, maybe you will think I am just a little bit crazy. Just a little.

After we got back from our vacation we got to the bottom (finally) of what our problem was: Check this out. It's crazy. SBC have distance limitations for their DSL customers. If they are more than a certain distance away from the hub, the DSL is not provided. For 6 months we had a perfectly acceptable DSL connection. But then SBC decided the quality of the service they were providing to the people on the furthest stretches away from the hub was not acceptable/good enough. So. What did they do? They shrunk the distance at which they would provide internet access. As we were in the outer area, we got our DSL connection cancelled.

Unfortunately we have no cable in our block. It is an industrial area and they don't deliver. We tried Covad, they couldn't do it either. SBC were our saviours but not anymore. They told us we could have dial up instead. Hang on a minute - they cancel our perfectly reasonable DSL because it is "not good enough", and then offer us dial up instead???? Their bad version of DSL was a zillion times better than dial up, but they force us to have no other choice. Have they ever tried blogging on dial up???? Talk about a return to the dark ages.

When I said no other choice, that wasn't quite true. For anyone in a similar position to us, there is an alternative. We have discovered the Sprint PCS Aircard 580 and it it is totally cool! I just plug this card into my laptop and I can have internet access where ever I go. Itis amazing. It is not quite as fast as DSL, but I don't notice it being slow. It is fast enough for me and a world ahead of dial up. It isn't the cheapest, but blogging is my hobby and so I decided it is worth spending the money on. I totally recommend it to anyone who finds them in a similar frustrating situation.

This post was written by Sam from Becks & Posh


Jennifer Maiser said...

I'm glad you found some sort of solution. You should remind everyone reading along that this issue is occuring within the city limits of ... SAN FRANCISCO!!!!! Not podunktown, USA -- no no, this is in supposedly one of the most tech cities in the world. Sheesh.

Amy Sherman said...

What a major drag! It's not like you live under a rock or something. Hopefully our mayor will make good on his plan to offer internet service to ALL citizens and you'll be included (even if you are an alien)

Nicky said...

Hi Sam!
Your story totally reminded me of the problems we had with our DLS provider, t-online. Almost everyone I know can tell stories in epic length about their *great* customer service in combination with inability and associated, various technical problems; but then again, there is no really good alternative for our needs... The last incident took place just a few weeks ago: We received a special offer for upgrading our perfectly well functioning DSL service to an even better one for just 4 Euro. At the time it sounded like a fair offer and despite the many past troubles we had with them, we went for it. They scheduled the upgrade for November, 7th (with a 3weeks notice!). Just a few days earlier, we ran into friends who told us about their odyssey signing up for the exact same service and ever since are having connection problems (the connections breaks down every 5 minutes or so). Being in the broadband business for so many years, you would think that these guys should get a simple bandwidth upgrade done, but we sort of knew better...So finally on the 7th, three hours before an important conference call including an online demo, our DSL died. Completely. Nada connection. With their known terrible customer support via phone, we didn't really expect to be helped at all, but at the same time we needed to vent and yell at someone...(*just kidding*). A couple of more phone calls later we were given (seemingly random) different issues/explanations described by the customer service as to why we experienced the outage, the best one was: some technican who was gone for the day cancelled your DSL... (while fumbling with our DSL he must have glanced at his watch: "hey it's 6pm, gotta run...see ya")??? We were cut off for 24h - I choose to upgrade and you cancel my line - what's up with that?

Fatemeh said...

That's crazy. Just crazy. Especially since your neighborhood is so close to a very burgeoning neighborhood!

That said, I'm glad you found the aircard. FYI, to anyone who's interested, Verizon also has a similar product for a similar price. Might be easier for people who already have Verizon wireless.

Sam said...

thanks - fatemeh - we are going to try it out too as we have a 30 day approval period. Especially as we have discovered the verison version is $20 a month cheaper and Veriszon is the only cell phone provider that works at my office which would be an added bonus. So thanks for the heads up - we are looking into it now.

farmgirl said...

Hi Sam,
Just a comment from someone under a rock in the Dark Ages. "Ever try blogging on dial up?"

Every darn day. (But at least I've never blogged any other way, so I don't know what I'm missing. I'm just thrilled at how much faster my new computer is than my 10 year old one I replaced this summer. : )

From what I can figure, it'll probably be dial up here for a while. I checked out your Sprint card thing and I guess you need a laptop--and a cell phone? (Not to mention a very large wallet.) I don't have a laptop, but I do have a cell phone that starts working 25 miles from the farm. I don't think DSL is ever gonna happen out here. I've seen one place that has a local number for "high speed dial up" but it's $60 a month. Ouch.

All that said, I really enjoyed reading this post! : )

Sam said...

Farmgirl - i was thinking about you when I wrote this post - actually - cos I imagined you would be on dial up. And I felt ashamed, a bit, about complaining. I can do it on dial up, sure, but because I do so many links in my posts, which perhaps is different to the way you write, and have gotten used to having many windows working for me at once, returning to dial up, for me, was near on impossible. I used to use dial up and I was happy. But once you've had dsl, going back is painful.
The main thing - as Jen says, I live in San Francisco, damn-it. They are fighting over who should provide free WiFi to the whole city and here I am, less than 2 miles from downtown, and I can't even pay for it if I want it.
You do need a cell phone signal for this card to work, unfortunately, and a laptop. I wish I could send them all to you for thanksgiving.
have a great day!

farmgirl said...

Hey Sam,
Consisdering your location and situation, I don't think you should feel bad at all about complaining. Like I said, I'm just glad I didn't have to go from DSL back to dial up. With my new computer at least I started being able to open multiple windows at once. How cool is that? LOL And my connection speed is always over 40kpbs now. Hey, it's the little things. : )

Free wi-fi for the entire city? That would be so cool. But aren't the ISP howling against that? I can only imagine they would lose a lot of money from paying customers. But then again, things are a bit dark under this rock so I may have it all wrong. : )

Thanks for the response--and the thoughts of sending me a cell phone signal, etc. for Thanksgiving. Too cute. Enjoy the rest of the day!