Wednesday, April 18, 2007

DSL and The Phone Company

Is It My Imagination, Or We Getting Hosed?

Or is that, Hosed Again?!

Once again, my DSL "contract" expired. And once again, to let me know that it was time to put myself on the hook again for a year, AT&T raised my rates. I put "contract" in quotes because the phone company calls it a contract. It is as much a contract as the GOP's Contract With America was a few years back. To refresh your memory from Business Law 101, a contract has to between 2 competent parties. That means both parties are capable of choice. When the phone company puts a piece of paper in front of you and says "sign it or we'll cut off your phone service," that's not a contract. That's called coercion.

Of course when you call and complain, they "don't know nothin from nothin" because they have changed their name again. From SBC (Suck Blood Corporation) to ATT (All the Money Corporation) or something like that. Funny, when rates dropped a couple of years ago, they didn't make a peep to let me know that my "contract" had expired.

My question is, "Just how badly is the Phone Company ripping us off?" Forget about the Clinton era when the government gave the phone company billions in breaks so they (ThePhoneCo) would wire the US for cheap broadband internet and TPC took the money and ran. Those billions are gone and we still pay 10 times what they pay in Finland and Japan for cell phone and internet service.

I'm just talking about this service level nonsense.

I was getting level 2 (of about 6 levels) for $13/month. Now they've changed the rate and that same service costs $19/month. So I told them to drop it to level one to keep it as cheap as I can. $14/month. Naturally, they warned me of the dire consequences of running my life at lower internet speeds, but I decided to take my chances.

Well what do you know. The first couple of days I thought I noticed a barely perceptible slow down. Now a week later it is either gone or I just don't notice it any more.

I'm sure the TPC is offering various levels of service at various prices. But I'm also sure as taxes that TPC is running their business the way they always do. They are operating the lines to produce maximum revenue for themselves.

That means my little home use which rarely has any background operations fits right into the flow of internet traffic un-noticed.
Robert X. Cringely in his April 12, 2007 blog writes that Comcast isn't living up to their promised through put. He says Comcast laughed at him when he complained. No surprise. No matter what they claim, it looks to me like they're liars. No matter what they say, they do what's best for them and let you sort out your own problems.

The example is hardware and software help lines. Does anyone call a help line anymore? I learned 2 things about help lines long ago: First, I know 10 times more about all aspects of computing than the person on the other end of the line. And second, their strategy is to get you off the line at all costs. That's why they first ask you to check all your settings and change one that doesn't affect anything. Because you have to reboot for the change to take effect and they get you off the line. Their hope is between the wait to be connected to another help rep and a few more reboots will get you to go ask one of your friends or co-workers and stop bothering the help line.

So it seems to be with TPC. They offer you what you need and want and make you become satisfied with what you get.

These things seem evident to me:

When anyone first orders a broadband line of any kind, it behooves them to test their need against the service. Either start at the most expensive service and keep downgrading as long as service is acceptable, or start at the cheapest and continue to upgrade until things work out.

Go with the cheapest provider you can to begin with. I'm waiting to see, but I think people who don't evaluate their service because they have gobs of money will support the high end lines. Cable and dish. More and more people are dropping hard line phone service. Even for voice service. This says to me that the cable, dish and cell systems will become more crowded and the ordinary phone lines will become vacant. Look what's happening to pay phones.

DSL service has operated at nominal speed since the day I first got it years ago. The first thing I did when I got DSL was to download Linux. I clocked the downloads of the Linux CDs and the speed was right at nominal. As long as a net service has a lot of slack, your packets will come to you as fast as physically possible. Why would TPC slow them down unnecessarily just to conform to Service Level Agreements? - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used to call SBC the Southern Boys Club (or perhaps the Southern Bastards Club, depending upon how pissed off at them I was that week) but someone on Slashdot, who once worked for Qwest, said they had all been "Sodomized By Cowboys."

I didn't have much more to say after that.

Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

His money back guaranteed newsletter "The Pitfalls of Unlocked Cell Phones and SIM Card Cloning" can be purchased by clicking here.