Comcast, T-mobile and HTC, oh my.

Comcast, T-mobile and HTC, oh my.

Summary: I came into my office this morning at 5 AM ET with the hopes of posting an entry here and then getting on with other business. I found that Comcast digital voice and internet service were both down.


I came into my office this morning at 5 AM ET with the hopes of posting an entry here and then getting on with other business. I found that Comcast digital voice and internet service were both down.

Comcast Support 1

So, I contacted Comcast and was told that they were already aware of the outage and were working on it. Since work was already in progress, the service rep wouldn't schedule an appointment for someone to come out and fix the problem. She told me that everything should be working in two hours.

Trying several options

Since I have a backup plan to use my HTC Advantage and its T-mobile data access as a modem, I thought I would be able to work while waiting for the cable network to be fixed albeit slowly. T-mobile's EDGE network only delivers between 80 and 100 Kbps. When I tried that option, I was able to connect but, the phone couldn't find my Email servers or any website.
Is it the HTC Advantage?
So, I told the device to get new network parameters from T-mobile. The situation didn't change after that move.

When that didn't work, I told the system to do a soft reset. After it came back up, the problem continued.

Then I did a hard reset (and dutifully reloaded all of my Windows Mobile software). That didn't work either. As an aside, I'm really disappointed with Microsoft's software for this device. Not only is it "more clunky" than that found in my old Treo 650, that is it takes more steps and is slower when doing just about anything, the company's ActiveSync doesn't create a snapshot of the device's state so it can be restored in the case of a problem. It only copies contacts, calendar entries, tasks and media (if you've been willing to download Windows Media 10 and accept Windows Genuine Advantage being loaded as well). Palm's synchronization software took care of all of the little details for me. When I did have to do a reset, everything was put back as expected once I was able to synchronize with my PC. Since I've had to totally reload this phone 12 times now in the three month's I've had it, I guess this is going to be a way of life as long as I'm using Windows Mobile 6. I'm really disappointed Microsoft.

Let's try the Sierra air card
Thinking that the Advantage could have been the problem, I took the SIM card out of the Advantage and put it in a Sierra air card and tried to access the network. It also was able to see the network and connect to it. Unfortunately, the air card couldn't find my Email servers or any website either. So, T-mobile's DNS service must be failing to work properly.

T-mobile Support 1

So, I called T-mobile's help line. After jousting with the company's absolutely awful voice response system, I was finally able to get to one of their service reps. She basically told me that she couldn't help me unless I called from another line even though I told her that my mobile device was my only working line.

T-mobile Support 2

I waited 15 minutes and called T-mobile again, knowing that I would get a different, and hopefully, more responsive service rep. The second T-mobile rep tried to be helpful and suggested that I do all of the things that I had already done. When I informed her that I had already done all of those things, she was kind enough to send me on to the next level of support.

T-mobile Support 3

Finally, I found myself speaking to someone who was familiar with the HTC Advantage, Windows Mobile 6, networking, life, the universe and everything! She used some of the tools at her disposal and probed what was going on in the telephone. As far as she could tell, everything was set correctly. She suggested that I call HTC.

HTC Support

I called HTC and found that I was permanently put on hold and never was able to get to a service rep.

Comcast Support 2

Since two hours had passed since my conversation with one of Comcast's best and my telephone and internet service were still down, I thought I'd call on my mobile phone again. This time the service rep tried communicating with my modem, found that she couldn't get it to respond and then scheduled a service call.

Quick Summary

It's now 10 AM ET our hero has spent five hours dealing with service representatives from Comcast, T-Mobile and HTC and the situation hasn't changed a bit. He still has no access to the network (either through Comcast or T-mobile) and his office telephone line doesn't get a dial tone. His mobile phone, on the other hand, does appear to work.

The office telephone rings

At 10:30 AM ET, the telephone rang. Since that service wasn't working before, I knew that the situation had changed. After fending off the sales person on the phone (no, I don't want to purchase siding for my house), I checked to see if my Comcast internet service had also returned. It had returned!

At 10:45 AM ET, the Comcast service rep appears at the door. I thanked him and told him that things were working once again.

Music to my ears

At 10:50 AM ET, my mobile phone played the short musical tone it makes when an Email message arrives. It was able to access the internet once again.

What do you suppose this was all about? Do you have mornings like this too?

Topics: Telcos, HTC, Mobility, Networking


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • Yes, I feel your pain.

    I recently went through a similiar support nightmare with Sprint. I don't think it has anything to do with the provider but more to do the state of customer service.

    Customer service center people are measured by how many calls they handle and how quickly they "resolve the problem" which actually means they transfer the call or somehow get the customer to hang up. Wouldn't it be great if they were actaully measured on solving problems?

    I can't really fault the call center management since over the years we as a society have taken the approach of buying the cheapest product and expecting prices to continually go down. We all justify lower prices with more competition and reduced costs through technology, but have we forgotten that there's a price for service. Sure I like to get the lowest possible price but there is a cost and an associated value of good customer service.
  • Bye, Bye Comcast

    Be prepared for other Comcast follies. I've run the gamut from being 'accidentally' turned off several times to legitimate network outages that impacted my neighborhood.

    I recently dumped Comcast for Verizon FIOS. We'll see if I am one of the lucky ones, or will Verizon be just as miserable as Comcast.
    • Probably just as bad - if not worse...

      A buddy of mine has Verizon DSL - and his connection is spotty at best at times. He'll be working on stuff and all of a sudden - his connection dies - and he has to reset the modem. Though - that doesn't always solve the problem. Many times the DNS drops out and he can't get anywhere regardless of how often it's reset. Calling them is useless as well. They always want to send out a tech to fix the problem. Unfortunately, the appointment is usually DAYS down the road and more often than not, the offending DNS server(s) get reset and the problem clears itself up.

      Good luck...