Last week, I posted a rant about Verizon's inability to provide DSL service to an address where it had steadily serving broadband for the previous three years. It looked, at the time, to be a process issue in which the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. Orders were getting randomly canceled, modems were shipping about haphazardly, and the customer (me) certainly wasn't being kept in the loop.
Not surprisingly, I got a call the very next morning from Verizon's "Social Media and Customer Experience Team." These are what you'd call cleaners in a gangster movie. They make everything work for high-profile folks who will keep telling the world about their bad experiences if things keep going wrong. Fundamentally this really bothered me. Why should I get the royal treatment just because I get to write blogs on ZDNet and tens of thousands of people get to hear how upset I am?
I'd actually pay more on my phone and internet bills to get this sort of service all the time. But then, what would be the point of escalation?, as one Verizon employee asked me.
I'm not a stupid man, though, and I rarely look a gift horse in the mouth, so I took the top-notch customer service, took the personal attention from engineers, took an expedited install date on my new order (since they'd canceled the previous two, I was up to number three), and even took the primer on home phone wiring and central office connectivity from the local tech. I only felt a little bit guilty over the special treatment
So I'm typing this connected to the ZDNet servers using my newly reinstalled DSL, right? I could stop paying for one bar of crappy 3G to keep doing my job, right?
Despite new cables and a spiffed up network interface, I still don't have DSL. This time, however, it's because of poor planning, miserable foresight, and the sad infrastructure of bandaids that characterizes rural broadband in this country. There weren't any open ports in our junction box. They'd all been used up by other members of our community, hungry for access to something that didn't involve a 56k modem.
I know this is a small community, but wouldn't it make sense that this little, rural town with more millionaires per capita than any other town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, home to artists and retired New York bankers, would need more than a few ports in a junction box?
And wouldn't it have been better to install a box that didn't require frequent trips out by Verizon construction crews to add more ports? Because that's what I'm waiting on now, apparently. A crew to upgrade our box so that it can handle a few more of us who would like to bask in the glory of 3mbps broadband. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we set our sights low out here in the sticks. Just 3mbps. Not some fancy big-city, fancy-pants FIOS. I know I'm going to pay a price for one of the quieter places in New England to spend my days writing and working in peace.
But really? Nobody expected that there might be significant demand and therefore thought to build in reasonable capacity in the first place.
I know it could be worse. There are people in this town living along certain roads who have been told they'll never have broadband. They're kids won't ever get to have rich e-learning experiences and they won't ever be able to telecommute. Sure, they can enjoy the great outdoors, but here in 2011, the Internet makes the world go round. It's time that we caught up with the other countries worldwide that have managed to get broadband to both urban and very rural communities. No more geography excuses. Just broadband. And maybe a bit of room for growth down the road.
I wonder if my 3G reception would be better in my attic? The weather is improving...my roof looks better and better every day.