In our previous house, we had a cable modem, but despite there being a green Cable box right outside the wall of the new house, there’s no cable service in our street. I checked with Virgin Cable but it wasn’t commercially viable to do the street any more. So we signed up for ADSL. At the time, I wanted a reliable service, and I’d heard good things about Nildram, so I signed up with them.
It wasn’t the cheapest option, by a long chalk, but it was reliable, in four years we had no noticeable outage. Nildram was eventually purchased by Pipex but nothing really changed. Then Pipex were bought up by Tiscali, and not much changed. Then Tiscali were bought up by Opal. who may have been part of TalkTalk or were later renamed to TalkTalk business or something like that. Once that happened, the service went downhill.
Overnight disconnects, variable performance, disconnects during the day, etc. However, if you’ve met me you know that I am super resistant to change. Not because I don’t think change can be good, but because I’m basically lazy. I’ll tolerate ‘good enough’ vs ‘much better’ if good enough involves no effort. Eventually though, there’s a tipping point and I’ll initiate change.
I’ve been looking at BT Infinity since it was first announced – cable-like speeds using VDSL. It’s still variable speed, because your distance from the cabinet has an impact but it’s significantly better than most ADSL. My ADSL connection is 6-7Mbps, BT Infinity suggested I might get 34Mbps.
So anyway – about 3 weeks ago we noticed the ‘net connection was being a bit odd. Sending tweets wouldn’t work, web pages would half load, some stuff wouldn’t connect first time. Throughput was okay once you got a connection, I could still get 5-600KB/s, but it would sometimes reqiure two or three page refreshes to load a full web page.
It came to a head when I worked at home one day, and my VPN connection to the office was atrocious. I couldn’t send or receive any mail and got about 2KB/s transfer when trying to send and receive files. Clearly, the underlying VPN connection suffered more from whatever was causing the connection issues in general.
Did I call TalkTalk? No. For two reasons. Firstly, someone else at work mentioned exactly the same behaviour on their TalkTalk connection, and they knew of 1 other person with the same issue as well. At the same point, I found someone living in a completely different part of the country on TalkTalk who had the same problem. The second reason, and you can lambaste me if you like, is that I knew how the conversation would go.
Me: I’m having an issue – description of problem.
Customer Service Rep: Okay, I have a checklist of things you’ve already done, such as rebooting your ADSL router, taking all other devices out of the equation, etc., etc.
Me: But I know other people with the exact same issue around the country, and I’ve tried those things, and it feels to me like packet loss or traffic shaping gone bad, and my line quality values haven’t changed because I track them.
Customer Service Rep: Okay, but can you please work through this checklist of things.
I spend my job fixing technical issues, and advising other people how to fix them, and I know very well how critical it is that you follow a logical investigative process and make no assumptions. But when I ring a call centre I don’t want to hear that shit, I want to speak to someone technical so we can talk about it. I know I can’t, I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help it.
It’s like being a retired garage mechanic and taking your car to your local garage, and having to try and explain why you know what the problem is while they ask you what colour the paintwork is.
So no, I didn’t call TalkTalk, but I did decide to move to BT Infinity. Ten minutes through the Infinity signup and I remembered I needed my MAC. To give them their due, TalkTalk provided it well within the 5 working day estimate. On Tuesday of this week I ordered BT Infinity and they gave me a delivery and installation date of next Wednesday!
So I’m excited but of course, because of who I am, I’m also planning! I used to have a fixed IP address with Nildram but that’s going to go, so I’ll need to re-work the security on my VPS and web sites. I’ll need to either run a long cat5 cable between the VDSL modem and the BT Home Hub, or get a new network switch, or maybe both. Is there going to be room for both boxes near the phone? Will the engineer be helpful and put the Home Hub in a different room? Argh!
So, all change to something many people consider a luxury, but for many reasons, something we consider vital. I’ll let you know how it goes, over 3G if it goes badly.