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Broadband, a comedy of errors.

by on January 25, 2013

This post is not a whinge or kicking of Telstra. I understood what I was getting into when I signed up with them. Personally though I find this story hysterical in a Kafkaesque kind of way. As I sit here at my desk with my phone headset on for the last hour, waiting patiently for someone at Telstra to take me off hold, their hold music suddenly stops. I find this slightly worrying yet peaceful as their music, like most hold music sucked. LOL as I typed this the hold music came back on. They put me through to John who said “I’m in sales” I burst out laughing and explained I had been waiting for over an hour to talk to tech support. “what a retards” mumbled the disillusioned John and then transferred me.

This adventure started a week ago when I decided to change from IINET as a broadband provider to Telstra. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with IINET customer service, on the contrary I have said publicly many times they have the best customer service of any ISP I have used in the last 20 years. However the speed sucked. Around 4mbps for an ADSL2+ connection that is about 1km from the exchange. I checked my next door neighbours speed and she was getting 15mbps on her Telstra connection. I know from experience that Telstra is a monolithic bureaucracy with massive customer service issues but I need that speed it was time to cross to the dark side.
. The new service was installed exactly one week ago. I bought the Telstra Technicolour Modem they said it was the best one they had. Excitedly I worked out where to look on the modem to determine the connection synchronisation speed. WTF 3mbps? I rang Telstra and they were very helpful saying it was too slow for ADSL1, wait what? ADSL1? I ordered, or so I thought ADSL2+. It took me 2 hours at the Telstra shop to get it done. I went on a casual plan thankfully. The operator put an upgrade in for the plan and then proceeded to make a changes at her end to my connection, all the while asking me to check speeds as we went. After about 5 minutes the changes had got the speed down to around 500kbps. Well that didn’t work. She said she would escalate the problem.

On the Monday I got a call from a technician named Jason who said there were two problems, one was a line issue the other was a configuration issue. He rang me back later to say he had managed to get speeds of up to 10mbps just by fixing the configuration issues. When I got home they were up around 7.5 mbps and this is on the ADSL1 plan still. Pretty darn good. I was happy with that. Way to go Telstra guy Jason. He also mentioned a Tech would be sent out on Wednesday to check the line problem. Jason had asked me to ring through the results of the test through to put on the case file. I think the operator I spoke to had just been to the “Customer Complaint Deflection Workshop” It took me 15 minutes just to make her understand that I wanted her to note the speed changes against the case file. She spent 12 minutes trying to get me to reset modems & do isolation tests.

On Wednesday the tech “Keegan” found the problem in the Street but had detected possibly a problem in the house wiring as well. He said that there was also a length of cable along the street that needed to be replaced and had been earmarked in the system “for some time” to be replaced. This was certainly affecting my speed according to him. He said he would be back on Thursday to finish the work.

I got home that night and just before I walked in I received a text from Telstra telling me my ADSL problem had been fixed. Great I thought. My joy dissipated faster than fart filled elevator stopping at the ground floor, when I tried to connect. NO DIAL TONE. Basically that meant I had no phone line. SO as far as I was concerned my ADSL problem was not indeed fixed as Telstra had claimed in their chirrpy little robot text some five minutes earlier. I would proffer in fact that it was a good deal worse. So much worse as to be non-existent. Disappointed but not angered I rang the Keegan’s mobile and it went through to voicemail. I didnt expect to him to answer as it was after 6pm. I left him a polite message regarding our absent dial tone. Before I made the call I of course did all the isolation tests required before speaking to technical support. Even checking the wiring it case Keegan had wired something back wrong. He had not. So then I rang Telstra.

Not our problem… yet.

I rang Telstra and spoke to ADSL technical support. When I explained the issue they explained that was the domain of the landline folk and transferred me. I’m starting to think Telstra employees get bonuses for transferring. Yet again I explained the issue and the operator Stefan said. “I see here your landline is with another provider”. When I churned my ADSL service away from IINET, I had not churned the phone line. Mistakenly I tried to apply logic and said that it was their tech that was there that day and he was coming back tomorrow. No dice baby. “Sorry you will have to ring your provider and they will lodge the request with us”. SO then onto IINET who said yep what a crazy world eh? And logged the callout. A few minutes later Keegan rang back and explained he knew there was no dial which is what he was coming back tomorrow to fix.

The following day (Thursday/yesterday) Keegan rang and said he would be at the house at 1:30 to fix the issue. At 2:45pm he rang to say he had it fixed and left. At 3:06PM my wife arrived home and I asked her to check the landline. NO DIAL TONE WTF#%^&@! I asked her to do a few checks on different points and use different phones. Still no joy. So she said she would ring Keegan. As it turns out at around 3pm another Telstra technician turned up at the house and tried to fix the thing that had already been fixed in the street. He broke it. My wife rang back about 20 minutes later to explain the other tech had been called out by IINET to Telstra. Ooops. I got home last night and the modem was consistently connecting at 7mbps download test around 1.2mbps on ADSL2.

Since I started writing this article I have spoken to Evangelene in tech support who said she has no notes of any problem of cabling in the street and that as far as they are concerned it is a congestion issue at the exchange even though my neighbour gets 15mbps. So now I don’t know who to call. I’m not much better than I was a week ago but I thought you’d enjoy the story as I found it hilarious… but time consuming. When I told Evangelene about the cable in the street would have to be replaced she said, “that would be very expensive” yes. Yes it would, which is maybe why I will always have treacle filtered Internet until the NBN arrives which is apparently years away for my street.
UPDATE:
Got a call at 9:30 pm from Telstra Tech support Here is the conversation.

I’ll call the operator Sunil.
Sunil. Hi Mr Stewart the problem of your download speeds is because of a problem at the exchange. We do not know when it will be fixed. It may be a month or longer.
Me: You mean congestion right?
Sunil: Yes
Me: Why does my neighbour not have download issues and gets speeds of 15mbps?
Sunil: SHe is not on a congested dlsam.
Me: Why didnt you connect me to the same slam.
Sunil: There are no ports left
Me: So let me get this straight, the dlsam my neighbour is on is not congested but the ports are full and we’re on the same exchange?
Sunil: Yes
Me: I didnt tell you me neighbours address or phone number. Why would you connect a brand new customer to a dslam that is congested and has ports available?

Sunil: It wasn’t congested before we connected you
Me: WHat? (Laughs uncontrollably) I think the real story is this. The technician that did the inspection told me a cable in the street needs to be replaced and that is what is attenuating the signal. I don’t think Telstra want to spend money on that because the NBN is coming and there is no upside for them.
Sunil: The NBN is something completely different
Me: Yes. What is a connection speed you would expect an ADSL2+ to register on the modem?
Sunil:6.5 to 8mbps depending on your distance from the exchange
Me: I’m 1.01 that seems pretty slow considering the Telstra shop guy told me that 80% of customers are getting at least 10mbps.
Sunil: There are no ADSL2 ports left at your exchange.
Me What? Are you telling me I’m on ADSL1?
Sunil: No err you were the last one connected at ADSL2+
Me:(laughing uncontrollably) So let me get this straight. My neighbour is on a dslam that is not congested but full. I was on iinet adsl2+ last week but was only getting connection speeds similar to what I get now. I switch to TLS you mistakenly connect me to ADSL1 and then connect me to the last available ADSL2+ port available at which point the DLSAM becomes congested.
Sunil: Yes.
Me: Sorry Sunil that is the most implausible story I have ever heard.

We then exchanged pleasantries.

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