De-SL-Volution in the ISP biz

“Christ-on-a-Crutch!!” as my grandfather used to say.

First it was my beloved Mindspring, which I signed up for in 1994 and left at the end of 2001 after they had been gulped down by Earthlink and most of my subscriber and employee friends had bailed. One of the last straws for me at Earthlink was when they forbade employees from posting in the newsgroups. Prior to that, employee help posts had been a topnotch alternative to waiting on hold for an hour to speak to a level 1 tech who was reading from a script and probably couldn’t answer your question anyway.

Then it happened to BellSouth. When I first signed up for Fast Access DSL, I was super-impressed by all the Tier 3 and above people who posted in the newsgroups and at the BellSouth Forum at Broadband Reports. How many times had my DSL connection gone south while at Earthlink and when I called Support, I was told that it was some phone company issue and they would contact the telco (BellSouth) to try and resolve it. A few days would go by, a lot of dancing around the modem making Indian noises and shaking dead chickens, and then my Earthlink DSL would miraculously work again. In the Bellsouth forum, you could *talk* to those same telco experts and get a quick solution to any problem you could imagine. Once a technician came out to my house to tell me that they had replaced a card at my remote DSLAM and the problem was resolved.

“By the way”, he said, “the head regional guy called my office and lit a fire under our butts about your problem. How’d you get friends in such high places?”
“Hey, friends and favors make the world go ’round.” I smiled slyly.
(and some of us score extra points when we know how to launch our web browsers).

A couple of weeks ago that all changed. It seems that one or two of the extremely helpful BellSouth techs that were posting in the BellSouth Forum on their own time answering questions that Help Desk Support could never have handled made an error or somesuch, causing the Suits to panic and ban them all from both the Forum and the usenet newsgroups starting Dec. 31. It was Earthlink all over again. Now they’re backtracking and saying that a new Tier 3 Support Group will be taking up the newsgroup slack (paid and assumingly filtered) by BellSouth.

I eventually left BellSouth because of disconnect problems with two different routers that just couldn’t get resolved, even by the Tier 3 guys. A line tech told me that it could be the BBG software that they use in their redbacks. Whatever, when I went to Directv DSL and a straight bridged connection with no more BBG or PPPoE software to hassle with, my connection suddenly became rock solid. After 6 months I grew to love my new ISP, even more than the old Mindspring. Support picked up the phone after a couple of minutes, and they were all over-qualified and actually listened to you, and bent over backwards to solve any problem. I had a fixed IP address, and the ability to run any servers that I wanted. I set up a mail server that I ran from my house just ’cause I *could*. But the biggest positive about my new ISP was the total lack of downtime. In fact, the connection never went down, except once when electrical power went down in my neigborhood. The people in the newsgroups were all geeky types. I was in DSL hog-heaven again.

Until today.

It seems that DirecTv DSL is closing their doors.

As my grandfather used to say Christ on a Crutch!!!

I’ve got 30 days to find a new provider. I could always go back to BellSouth or Earthlink and play with PPPoE again. I really don’t want to do that, though. I’m thinking more likely that I’ll go with a small local provider that provides a bridged connection and fixed IP address. I also have choices in Snappy DSL and another bridged provider whose name escapes me.

I’ll get it somewhere, I’m sure, but my troubles sound like ungrateful whinings compared to a lot of folks who are suddenly facing the Christmas season sans a job. The excellent employees at DirecTV DSL deserved a fate better than this Their search may take somewhat longer than mine, as the employement outlook in the Portland area is fairly grim these days. Christ on a Crutch, indeed.

One thought on “De-SL-Volution in the ISP biz”

  1. About a month ago, I spent about six days forced to dial up at a blazing 31.2, and dropping from 80-90 kb per second to *3* kb per second sharply pointed out how addicted I’ve become to speed. It’s even better than when I was young … wait, different speed. This DSL stuff, though, it’ll kick yer butt … ‘til you don’t have it. Then you start seeing spiders and shit.

    That dial up crack is nasty. I gotta have my DSL, even if my dealer is Earthlink.
    Fri.December.02 @ 15:21:46

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