annoyed with sbc dsl 10.31.2005

Okay, for many years I was a satisfied customer of SBC. Actually I got the DSL service way back when it was still just Pacific Bell, and the Internet worked just fine.

But it was ancient service. One meg down, 128K up; and there was no way to upgrade the service without switching the service to a new modem and a new remote terminal location. So I switched.

And that is when the problems started.

The DSL service would stay up for a few days, then start randomly dropping. I'd lose sync; the modem would disconnect me for five minutes every five or ten minutes. Over a few weekends my service would just completely disconnect; no Internet for several days running--then it'd come back up just fine.

During the summer it was late afternoons; when it would get hot outside, the Internet service would drop for the rest of the afternoon until an hour after sunset. Then it got colder--but then the Internet would drop in the evenings and through the night. There was little rhyme or reason to the droppage.

Now it's not like the individuals who came out to help diagnose the problem weren't helpful or friendly. Every technician I worked with was very nice. They isolated a problem with the phone line, but that didn't solve the problem. I've gone through a couple of modems and upgrades; nothing. It still drops.

Eventually the technicians theorized that the problem was with the Remote Terminal in my area.

But SBC has a fundamental problem. You see, there is no single "SBC Internet" company. Thanks to deregulation, there are actually *three* separate entities I had to deal with. The first was SBC Internet, who handled the modem. The second was the SBC services that owned the wire between my house and the remote terminal. And the third (SBC Telco) which owns the remote terminal; essentially the "hub" which connects the "star configuration" that is my wire and everyone else's wire and ties it into the phone company's voice and internet network. (From the RT the internet packets are then sent to SBC Internet again, which then handles things like the remote mail servers and the like.)

Now nine times out of ten the fundamental problem with someone's Internet DSL service is either the modem (either the wrong firmware or a hardware problem or a misconfiguration) or the wire from the user's house to the remote terminal. The technician who came out to test my modem is also able to test the line signal; it turns out the signal is just fine, and the modem was fine. Now if the technician finds a problem with the line (as they did with mine), the part of DSL which replaces the wire between the house to the remote terminal is able to replace the wire--which they did with amazing speed.

But when it's a problem with the remote terminal, both the wire guy and the Internet tech must set up a "bridge call" where they get a whole bunch of people on the phone, and simultaneously agree that the wire is fine and the modem is fine, so SBC can then open a trouble-ticket to the remote terminal.

But what do you do when the problem is intermittant?

I have had a series of technicians out here trying to get this problem under the scope at the same time a bridge call has been set up. And--well, I've had technicians see the problem; but not when a bridge call (which takes moving moutain to set up) was running.

I guess the final straw was not the fact that this went on for six months, but the fact that a wire guy came out, said he was doing some "repairs", swapped my line so it connected to a different remote terminal card--then left with a shrug when I had no internet service--and for a short period, no phone service as well.

Insane.

So I'm done. I don't really blaim the technicians, all of whom were uniformly nice. I blaim the current regulatory scheme which makes the different technicians maintaining the same system work for separate companies--and go through insane hoops in order to work together. I learned, for example, that in fact there *was* a problem with the same remote terminal system I'm connected to; a ticket was opened up, but they examined someone else's remote terminal card and subsystem. Since no-one has opened a ticket on my line (which they can't until they open a bridge call and watch the problem live, which was intermittant in nature), they didn't bother to look at the subsystem I'm connected to when dealing with the RT.


I discontinued service and switched to Charter instead. My theory is that at least with Charter, they own the damned remote terminal, wire and modem--as one single unified system. Which means if something goes wrong, I won't have to jump through regulatory-imposed hoops in order to get someone to look at the damned problem.

posted by William Woody at 8:24 PM

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