Another Fairpoint internet failure; the struggle continues

I would really not prefer to blog about this.  Honestly, I have many, many other topics that excite and interest me, and which are probably of greater interest to you, my readers.  But America’s lame broadband situation is, alas, of political and historical significance.  And, once again, I’m prompted to write.

Fairpoint first decided to try broadband here in 2008Today our home internet went out.   Again. Both of our lines (one for the family, one for the business).  Simultaneously.

Yes, this is just one week after the last time Fairpoint broke our broadband.

As a good customer, I power cycled the routers.  No dice.  I tried multiple devices (PC, Mac, Android phone, XBox) on both internet connections.  Nothing.

So I called Fairpoint’s help line.  Over 40 minutes the very friendly representative couldn’t figure out the problem. They put in an order to send a technician by, but couldn’t say when they’d arrive.  As in what time, or what date.

Two hours later, after I’d packed up to move operations to a more reliable locale, the internet mysteriously came back on.  HURRAH!  The signal is iffy, and bursty, but still, HURRAH!

Still being a good customer, I called Fairpoint back so they wouldn’t send a technician out (whenever that might be) for no good reason. This phone representative was mystified, having no idea why the internet suddenly returned.

So we’re left with broadband that might or might not work, provided by a company who doesn’t know why it doesn’t work, and may or may not be able to send help at some unknown time. For Fairpoint customers internet connectivity is really like rain is for farmers: something we can only hope will serve us, and that we can neither control nor influence.  All we can do is watch, cope, and take advantage of the good times.  I’m beginning to understand ancient rituals of sacrifice.

Meanwhile, we and our townsfolk cannot fall back on cell phone connections, as coverage is at best spotty (Verizon, so I’m told, has a couple of footholds for a single bar apiece, somewhere) and at average nonexistent.

So rather than, say, writing on other subjects or, say, doing my actual job, I’m spending time connecting with a bunch of state agencies and local people to learn more about the situation.  Maybe some collective action can improve things.

Those contacts include:

What doesn’t work?

  • Any digital communication with our ISP, hilariously.  While they do, in fact, tweet, they do not deign to actually answer tweets from their putative customers.  They don’t read Reddit’s Vermont board, not this blog, nor FrontPorchForum.
  • Neither state gubernatorial candidate.  We reached out to Sue Minter (Dem) and Phil Scott (GOP) and haven’t heard back from either one.
  • Asking the state to influence Fairpoint.  It turns out that the state has zero regulatory leverage over this company.

What next?

  1. The state’s Department of Public Service would like to hold an informational meeting in our town, so I’m looking into that.
  2. Contacting VTel, a state initiative to bring connectivity to “the most rural areas”.
  3. Contacting the feds, the FCC.
  4. Begging Google for fiber (thanks, Alan).
  5. I’ll contact local news media to see if there’s any interest in this as a story.
  6. I’ll see what Fairpoint will do next.  Maybe they can get some federal funding to improve things.
  7. Befriend the next technician we see (thanks, csbv).

Overall, this is intolerable.  I’ve lost track of how many hours I’ve spent dealing with Fairpoint’s incompetence: helping them troubleshoot their own problems, researching issues, driving around the state trying to find broadband.  I cannot run a business like this.

We may have to get an office in another town.  Or consider moving.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

EDITED TO ADD: Enter our local savior, North Branch Networks.  This local provider came to our house tonight to make sure their network was up.  The CEO fixed a hardware glitch and we were back in business.  That’s what I’m using now, in fact.  So our local startup, a very effective and DIY operation, succeeds where all the rest fail.

I’m going to see how much household and business needs we can run through it.

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14 Responses to Another Fairpoint internet failure; the struggle continues

  1. joshmasnickkim says:

    Brother…I feel your pain. In our previous home in Etna NH (the rural part of Hanover) we were forced to endure Fairpoint DSL. There were no other options. Comcast would not string cable out to our home because they said it would not be profitable (even though they have a cable monopoly in our town).

    The solution that I keep hoping for is municipal fiber. Fiber delivered as a public good. The problem is that the big providers (particularly Comcast) are working to block public fiber buildouts in the state legislators. I don’t know the situation in Vermont, but this is what is going on in New Hampshire.

    What you are going through with Fairpoint is a public policy failure. Broadband is a necessity for participation in the modern economic and educational system. This is a failure at every level of government.

    Please keep writing about your experience. If you can think of a way that your network can help put the pressure on Fairpoint, and everyone else involved with providing broadband, please let us know.

    Sending good wishes and positive vibes for strong and steady bandwidth.

    Like

    • Thank you, Joshua.

      This is indeed a public policy disaster, beyond the market failure. What I fear is populations growing accustomed to it, and hence not demanding more.

      Municipal broadband: we have a few projects, not many.

      Like

  2. Steven Kaye says:

    I don’t know the situation in Vermont specifically, but in other states Google is looking at wireless as a less-painful and less-politically-fraught alternative to getting the OK to lay fiber. I’ll see if I can find links when not on my phone.

    Like

  3. kathleef says:

    I think this is very important – we are talking often about using technology and the internet in our educational strategies; especially for online education – it is supposed to be the great equalizer, by what I’ve been reading. But it can hardly be so when access to the internet is so haphazard.

    Like

    • Absolutely, kathleef. One of the biggest divides in the country is the digital one, and the biggest driver there seems to be rural versus urban.
      I hear awful stories from rural community colleges about not being able to make digital assignments.

      Like

  4. Zack Lukjan says:

    Have you considered satellite internet?

    Eh, no doubt. It seems an obvious solution.

    On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 8:40 PM, Bryan Alexander wrote:

    > Bryan Alexander posted: “I would really not prefer to blog about this. > Honestly, I have many, many other topics that excite and interest me, and > which are probably of greater interest to you, my readers. But America’s > lame broadband situation is, alas, of political and historic” >

    Like

  5. VanessaVaile says:

    Having endured (and still subject to) rural connectivity for years I’m very much in accord with this topic and glad to see you address it here. Please do continue to blog about it. Yuma Colorado has been planning a local project since before I moved here but it does not seem to be going anywhere.

    http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-08-09/tired-waiting-high-speed-internet-farm-towns-build-their-own

    Like

  6. Pingback: Next steps for our rural broadband | Bryan Alexander

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