Misadventures in internet access

So, around the time one would reasonably expect an extra tap to have been put on our ADSL line, we started getting relatively frequent drop outs. This was somewhat resolved for a while until a few months ago… when ADSL dropouts started occuring several times a day.

Internode then informed me that “frequent dropouts” actually meant something like 5 or 7 per day rather than “more than once a day” and “this just started happening recently”. Colour me not impressed already. Anyway, it got a bit worse and I managed to convince them there was an actual fault. There were some tests done (which all failed somehow) and it ended with a technician coming out and checking things, then heading to the telephone exchange to do further tests before calling me (they didn’t… and after a few hours I gave up waiting and went for lunch).

So.. things mysteriously got a little bit better for a little while (a week maybe?) and then I went on vacation for a few weeks so didn’t really care what state my home ADSL connection was in.

Now, back from vacation and there were still dropouts. Then, on Friday things just went dead. I called Internode as I have done before, hoping for some actual action this time (it’s now months into this). They would not even log a fault without me listening for a dialtone. There is one problem with this, I don’t have a landline phone and haven’t wanted one for at least seven years. Yes, for seven years I have been paying at least $20/month for a service I did not want (that’s at least $1680 for those playing at home).

I explained that I did not have a phone, but still, no fault would be logged without listening for a dialtone. I asked what would happen if I had Naked DSL (as this is what I have wanted for SEVEN FUCKING YEARS but have been unable to get) and got some rather weird answer about it just being “more difficult to diagnose problems”. In a previous call with Internode before I went on vacation, I was informed that there would be a downtime of 7-10 days if I were to switch to Naked DSL and it wouldn’t be any cheaper than what I pay now (so I opted forgo that as it seems silly to pay the same amount of money for just an added long outage).

So, I expressed my dissatisfaction at having to go out and buy a landline phone that I didn’t fucking want… but $25 later I could ring back and say “there’s no dial tone” and then they had the balls to ask if I had another phone I could plug in and test. Seriously.

Finally though, a fault could be logged – and it was only a few hours out of my Friday and a further $25 out of my pocket for something I don’t want. Then there was the “good” news of when the problem would be fixed. In 24-48 hours there’d be an update – not a resolution. Then, it may take a couple of business days to have the phone line work again. Grr. Luckily we’re not old and in risk of having a heart attack and needing to call an ambulance as the prospect of 4 days without a dial tone would then be terrifying.

Luckily I have a 3g dongle for backup! Also, the Billion router I have has a USB port that will fail over from ADSL to 3g! Fantastic! For the lowly sum of $15/month Internode will give you 1GB of 3G data. It’s kinda useful (cheaper than hotel internet too) and useful to have a backup. You can also purchase extra data blocks if 1GB isn’t enough. It turns out that 1GB doesn’t last very long in our house while I’m working (even when being frugal with bandwidth). The price of a 1GB data block is now $39.90. This is a tad exorbitant even for 3G data prices… so I started to search elsewhere.

Amaysim looked like a good deal: $99.90 for 10GB of data to use within a year. A much better deal, in fact, a quarter of the price of internode! So, knowing that the USB dongle I bought from Internode a few years ago now is just a generic one that’s unlocked, I went and bought a Amaysim SIM card and loaded it up. It worked on my laptop (Fedora) just fine. It did not work in the Billion router. It just didn’t get an IP address.

An hour of fiddling with things, convinced I had something wrong, I rang Amaysim. I was on hold. They said I could “chat now” with someone on their web site. I tried that, it said 25 minute wait… so I figured that staying on hold couldn’t possibly be that long. Once I reached 45 minutes on hold, I also started the website “live chat” thing – it said 29 minutes. After an hour on hold, the phone went silent. It stayed silent. About that time I got through on the web site and the person was rather useless in helping debug the problem. The best I got was “with routers things get more complicated”. I don’t care about complicated, but at least they could refund the money (in 3-5 business days though) and close the account. The explanation offered: provider not compatible with device. This I’d never heard of.

Also, the Billion router has sweet fuck all diagnostics as to why something may not be working. I am convinced that what I really want is an actual linux box where I can run debian and say, look at the PPP logs.

I then tried Virgin Mobile. Exact same thing, except that the guy at the Virgin Mobile store said that if it didn’t work I could just bring it back and when I called their tech support I was on hold for maybe 3 seconds. Even though it didn’t work, at least I can go back and return it tomorrow. I heartily recommend them as my experience has been rather positive and I kinda wish it had worked.

So, five hours out of my Saturday and I still didn’t have a working solution, and have ended up paying crazy amounts of money for data as at least the Internode SIM works when the dongle is connected to both the router and my laptop and not just my laptop.

Maybe, sometime next week, I’ll have a proper internet connection that works… and hey, with luck, perhaps we’ll have this NBN thing at some point that actually delivers more bandwidth to my house than we get to Mars.

Oh, and if anybody knows of an ISP that is like how Internode used to be, let me know.

One thought on “Misadventures in internet access

  1. In Mumbai(India) we do have very reliable connections providing consistent 4 mbps speed and unlimited data through out the day for a sum of 35$ only.

    In cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad it’s even cheaper, something like 20$ for unlimited and lightning fast internet connection.

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