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.
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:
- Vermont’s Department of Public Service (two different people, including one working for their connectivity office)
- the state Public Service Board
- two state senators (Bray and Ayer)
- one regional manager for Fairpoint
- a dozen people from this area (so far; more every few hours) who want to share that outrage at Fairpoint’s bad service, and their desire to improve things. I’ve raised this crew solely by posting on our community forum/email list.
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.
- The state’s Department of Public Service would like to hold an informational meeting in our town, so I’m looking into that.
- Contacting VTel, a state initiative to bring connectivity to “the most rural areas”.
- Contacting the feds, the FCC.
- Begging Google for fiber (thanks, Alan).
- I’ll contact local news media to see if there’s any interest in this as a story.
- I’ll see what Fairpoint will do next. Maybe they can get some federal funding to improve things.
- 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.