Internet (Dis)Connection

In late July I got a notice that the apartment complex where I live signed an agreement with the ISP Getwireless. At that point I had been a happy Comcast broadband internet customer for a little more than 4 years. Switching to Getwireless was optional, but they were offering 50% of my previous connection speed for 44% of the cost. I figured the slower speed would not be an issue, so I made the switch.

Thus a series of complicated events began. It took four calls to Comcast to officially cancel my contract and I had to fight an inaccurate bill. The problems stemmed from the fact that my address had a bulk account cable television contract (through my landlord) and broadband internet contract in my name. But that got sorted out. All in all I have no complaints with Comcast, they supplied excellent service for four years.

The more troubling complications were with Getwireless. To begin with they began service two weeks later than they initially promised, meaning I had no internet service for ten days (and they billed me for the ten days no service was provided). During the wiring process I heard this exchange between technicians in my apartment:

Tech 1 (not in my apartment,via walkie-talkie):Are you getting a reading?”
Tech 2: (in my apartment testing ethernet jack, looks at meter) “Nope. I got nothing.”
Tech 1: “Maybe some of the wires got mixed up?”
Tech 2: “Try turning on H [a different apartment]”
Tech 1: (pause) “H is now on.”
Tech 2: “That’s it, they were reversed. Now I’m getting a reading. It’s weak though.”
Tech 1: “Is it passing?”
Tech 2: “Yeah, I guess.”
Tech 1: “OK, good.”

Not exactly reassuring.

When my Getwireless service started I got a basic welcome packet (it was customized for a different apartment complex, so some of the material did not apply–I noticed all my neighbors got the same packet). The guide did not have much helpful information. I learned through trial and error that the security settings I had used with my Comcast service reduced Getwireless to a painfully slow speed. I changed the security set up, but I’ve still had to deal with frequent interruptions of service. My computer will be connected to the internet, then suddenly not be connected. The down time can be 30 seconds or two hours. It happens about six times per day. I get a nice network diagnosis when I try to repair my connection:

Uh, do you think so?

Here is a pictorial display of the problem:

This is a happy picture.

This is a sad picture.

All is well.

All is not well.

I have a feed from a local weather station in the upper right corner of my desktop. When my internet connection is working I see the current temperature, a graphic that represents the weather condition (the sun, clouds, storm clouds, rain drops, snowflakes, the moon, etc), and the expected high and low temperature for the day.

When my connection is lost the graphic freezes and a “Not Connected” message displays.

End of pictorial display.

Having a spotty internet connection is frustrating. The randomness of the outages makes it all the worse.

At this point I’m not sure if it is truly a service outage or if my computer is simply falling off the network. I ordered a router that should arrive next week. When that arrives I’ll run my desktop and laptop simultaneously and it should be evident if it is a service problem.

I’m hesitant to complain to Getwireless before I can confirm that it is not my computer that is causing the problem. I called them to see if interruptions of service had been reported in my area. They said all readings were normal and to expect a follow up call. The next day I got a call informing me that a technician would be looking at the main circuit board at my apartment complex (I’m guessing other outages may have been reported if they sent a tech out). But the problem persisted after that visit.

During my call to Getwireless I asked if they had a troubleshooting guide or recommendations for computer settings. It sounds like they do not.

I’ve worked with computers on several different networks at work and at previous residences, and I’ve never had this kind of trouble before.

Right now the verdict on Getwireless is still out. When I trace the source of the outages I’ll be in better position to evaluate them. Regardless of the verdict, I can say that switching internet providers has been a frustrating ordeal. Save a penny lose your mind.

Note: As I was writing this post my connection dropped.

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