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Are You Happy With Your Internet Provider?

In the UK, BBC News reports that free broadband users are “less happy” and not satisfied with their Internet suppliers.

“Free” broadband deals have resulted in a downturn in customer satisfaction levels, a report has said.

According to the uSwitch Customer Satisfaction Report, most providers fail to match rising customer numbers with improved services and technology.

The survey of more than 11,000 customers found a 9% drop in broadband satisfaction levels. The report also says consumer trust in their internet suppliers is currently at an “all time low”.

…He said: “However, it’s disappointing to see that the majority of providers are failing to accompany the growth in customers numbers by sufficient growth in customer service operations, and the required investment in their technology, to ensure that they are looking after customer needs in an acceptable manner.”

It’s hard to judge “free” when it’s free, but obviously the push for free Internet in England is having trouble because of the lack of customer support from the companies. So does this mean people are switching to paid services to get better quality service and Internet connections? In my mind, this is what the companies would want, right?

Still, it begs the question of how much you “trust your Internet supplier” and how you like working with them, paid or not.

Personally, I’ve been working with Comcast in Alabama, and while I want to totally blame Comcast for the lousy connection service and problems, Hurricane Katrina is easier to blame, though I had some problems before. The weird thing is that my mother in Washington State, several friends in California and Oregon, as well as on the East Coast of the US, all complain about the horrible fadeout and drop off rate from digital cable Internet connections with Comcast. A search of the net found a ton of complaints against Comcast for the same issue.

While this might seem like a minor issue, when it happens in the middle of saving or publishing a post, you can loose everything you were just working on. If you are blogging with blogs, however, you may be saved because WordPress.com blogs have an automatic draft saving feature which saves your drafts every few minutes.

The solution to the Comcast drop off problem? Always the same. You have to disconnect your modem and router for 20-30 seconds. Then plug in in the modem and wait for all the lights to sequence, and then plug in the router. Then you are okay for a few minutes, hours, or days.

The only serious answer to this comes from a few sources which talks about the “drop off” being associated with “IP lease times”. It seems that Comcast’s programming of the modem “leases” an IP address for a specific time, typically two days. A lease is a kind of permission to access number. At the end of the lease time, it is supposed to release it and then re-establish a new lease, thus re-establishing a new “connection” between your computer and the modem and Comcast. Unfortunately, this release and renewal doesn’t always work right, and the drop off happens. By turning on and off your modem, you renew the lease automatically.

This explains the frequent complaint “it worked for two days and then stopped”, but it doesn’t explain the “it worked for 2 minutes and stopped”. I’ve tried changing the lease time in the setup and changing from dynamic to static IP addresses, and so many different things – and all are temporary fixes. It’s good for a few days, a week or two, and then back to the 50 times a day unplugging routine.

So, are you happy with your Internet Provider? Or are you suffering from the same complains as those in the UK?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

9 Comments

  1. Posted November 18, 2006 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    I’m good with mine here in Australia. There is just so many companies to choose from so I can pick one that suits me without it dropping out.

    In Malaysia though, that’s another story. Because the current ISP monopolizes the broadband service in Malaysia, they do get away with atrocious service, technical and customer. We’re talking about downtime that goes for days, speeds that are actually slower than its dial-up services and for a lack of a better word, mechanical and clueless customer service.

    What can people do about it? Nothing because the Telecommunications company controls everything there.

  2. Posted November 18, 2006 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    I seem to be having the same problems over here in Las Vegas with a company called Cox Cable. My connection will be fine for a certain time limit, (which can be anything from 30 minutes to 3 months). But since the post talks about ‘free’ broadband service, I don’t think that these customers have much room to complain since it’s a service that’s not being paid out of their pockets.

  3. Posted November 18, 2006 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard lots of complaints from cyberchums in the USA about Comcast as well!

    Over here, the experience of those who enjoyed apparently ‘free’ surfing – and how this has a major impact on their enjoyment of the internet – means that I pay for my broadband connection.

    My main gripe is about broadband suppliers not notifying me when they drop their rates or introduce new speeds. It’s entirely down to me to make sure I’m getting the best rate. I keep checking and I haven’t yet found anybody doing unlimited access beyond the initial introductory period for much different to what I’m paying my existing supplier – which is (I think!) £23.95 per month (or about £45 per month). I’m not sure how much more expensive it is over here – but I do know I keep looking at the rates being paid by people in Europe – and wonder whether that’s what explains the differential take-up.

  4. Posted November 18, 2006 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    In summer in house I established ADSL instead of Ethernet connections. But in the company, on which I work, now three suppliers of services the Internet! This because of the quality of maintenance and price of the services happened.

    As a whole I is very contented, which thus occurred.

    Which is desirable to say separately. So this that that the situation with the suppliers the Internet services is considerably worse than situation which you here described. And to make with this anything is impossible. If it is interesting, then my history with the suppliers the Internet in Krasnoyarsk, Russia can be read in my blog – http://brj.pp.ru/2006/09/27/change-supplier-of-internet-services/

  5. Posted November 18, 2006 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I am happy with my Net connection. I was having frequent disconnects with my cable modem connection earlier, but good quality DSL is now widely available in cities like Mumbai. The unlimited ones are a bit on the expensive side, but the quality is definitely worth it. The data-bound plans are also quite usable.

  6. Posted November 18, 2006 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Here in the UK, as in most places, you get what you pay for. ‘Free’ always comes with strings attached, and leaves you with little recourse to complaint. OK, so it’s not the most ethical way to do business, but ‘caveat emptor’ is the only sensible attitude to take to these things – if you want a service you can rely on, it’s best to bite the bullet and pay for it.

    However, the poor levels of customer service for paid broadband services are another question entirely; my connection with NTL is usually top-grade and problem free, but on the few occasions I’ve had to contact them about anything, their customer service has been mind-numbingly bad. It seems inconceivable that an ISP will not interact with their customers via the medium of email … until you consider that they are also a phone service provider, and hence make a good clip of money from putting you on hold for up to an hour. The only reason I’ve not changed provider is ‘better the devil you know’.

  7. Posted November 18, 2006 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    You have to be a little careful about broadband in the UK because if phone lines are involved it is not always the ISP’s fault. When I’m in the UK I use Zen, who are a long-established, tech-oriented company rather than the newbies who tend to assume that their clients only want broadband to download movies. My service worked fine for years.

    Then my mother decided to switch her phone service from BT to a rival company. This, of course, doesn’t mean that someone else supplies the line – BT still do that – but someone else bills for the service. The day after she switched, a BT engineer appeared on the pole outside the house. My broadband has been highly unreliable ever since, and it is clear from talking to the guys at Zen that there’s nothing they can do. BT are happy for them to take the rap for the bad service.

  8. Posted November 19, 2006 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    TimeWarner/RoadRunner is pretty decent. Works mostly all the time, and I don’t see the switching of the IP address mentioned here — it only seems to happen when you shut off or disconnect the modem for hours.

    That said, on the reasonably rare occasions when the service goes down, it may be just a few minutes. Or, as happened recently here in Los Angeles, it may be an hour or more … and *may* also involve your television cable and, possibly, the phone service if you’ve got TW telephone service. Usually it’s not all three at once.

    That said, when the service does go down and you’re desperate enough to call, TW tech support generally knows nothing about it and instead assumes that *you* know nothing about either Internet services or computers in general. Fun.

  9. Posted November 19, 2006 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Actually you guys still lucky because you can get unlimited internet access for cheap price, if its for me who live in Indonesia, i’ll have to pay $75-$80 / month for 2GB bandwidth (ADSL 384kbps connection), even with that ridiculous price and small bandwidth / quote the internet access speed during day time is lower than Dial up speed .. as a reference the ISP name is Telkom Speedy


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