Just over 4 weeks ago, we had a problem. Our internet connection went down. I’m sure, like many people, this is pretty dire: after all, I work from home and therefore need it to connect to work. And that’s before you even start to consider getting system updates, emails, Netflix, etc.
At first, I thought it might be some general outage with CenturyLink, so didn’t worry too much about it until the next morning. Nope, still no internet. Time to reboot the modem and try out various things. Weirdest thing: the modem would connect to CenturyLink’s servers, but I couldn’t access any sites. Hmm.
CenturyLink has an app for your phone, and using that you can communicate via text with the support staff. Unfortunately, where we live, AT&T has very intermittent cellular data capabilities, but, of course, that doesn’t bother me particularly since my phone connects via wi-fi through our internet modem. Which wasn’t working. Dammit.
I had to jump in the car and drive half an mile down the street where the AT&T cellular data connection is usable. And then chat with the support person (making up the responses to “please reboot your modem” requests based on what I’d already experimented with). That first chat didn’t help, with the support person saying wait until the morning, it should be fine. Yeah right.
Next day, same thing. This time the support person said you need a new modem after learning that my current modem was 6 years old. OK, then. I was added to the purchasing queue at number 13, but managed to lose my connection. Of course that would have meant I’d have to go through the entire process again with someone else on their support team.
I nipped over to my neighbor’s house, hat in hand, asking to use their wi-fi. I then went onto Amazon and bought an exact equivalent modem that I already had.
Next day, another chat with the support team. Still no joy: “We can’t see anything wrong with your connection here.” This time they said, oh it must be a wireless problem, ignoring my explanation that I’d disconnected all my routers, and the only device accessing the modem was my laptop via an ethernet cable. This time, they actually managed to convince me to get a brand new modem, shipping asap.
The next day, the modem arrived from Amazon. I set it up and it did exactly the same thing as my original modem: connected to CenturyLink’s servers, but no connectivity with the rest of the internet. Gah!
The next day, the brand new modem from CenturyLink arrived. Lo and behold it did exactly the same thing as my original modem. Many swear words from my office were heard in the house.
It was at this point that I decided to do some more tests and experimentation: especially using different browsers and devices. And the result was really weird: if the website or domain I was trying to access was non-secure (no SSL certificate), things worked. If the website was secure, like probably 95% of sites these days, no joy. So, for example: accessing google.com via the browser? No joy, it just waited and waited until things timed out. However, pinging google.com worked fine, because ping doesn’t try and create a secure connection. I have a non-secure domain that I bought years ago for the possibility of creating a new company, and all it has is a static home page with two images, the first from the same domain, the second from a secure domain. Lo and behold, only the non-secure image was shown.
Another call to the support team, this time via voice (I was fed up of having to drive the half mile to get a data connection). I was on the phone four and a half hours. This time they said, we’ll need to send a technician to your house. The problem then was that the earliest they could send someone out was seven days later, the first day of our annual vacation in England. No way was I going to cancel the vacation just so the tech could say there’s no physical problem with your internet connectivity since you can see non-secure sites. So, I booked one for the first day we got back.
That’s when the tech arrived and knows nothing about what problems I’ve been having. He has not been briefed at all. “Oh, you’ve got a new modem” he even says on seeing it. How I managed to keep my cool, I can’t even begin to explain.
However, he says that he needs to check my “port” in the area’s switching station and maybe change it. An hour later, he’s back and, wowza, his fix worked. I was completely non-plussed. I couldn’t understand why changing a physical port resolved the issue, after all, the modem was connecting to their servers just fine. I gave up and thanked him profusely.
At the moment, Colorado Springs is laying down new fiber optic cable in the north of the city, where we live. Me, I’m worried that this work is going to break our water pipes, or electricity supply, etc, let alone trash our front yard in some way, but part of me is thinking that maybe I should switch internet suppliers once the work is done. Hmmm, we’ll see.