Sunday, July 15, 2007

The History of My ISPs: Part 1

This is the 2nd time I had to leave a broadband Internet Service Provider. At first I had Shaw/Rogers cable, back in the mid 90s. They were nice enough to do all the installation: Drill holes at the side of my house and string the coaxial cable from my basement, out the side of my house, and then in to the side of my house into my room. This got me cable TV into my room which was an awesome bonus. This was way back when broadband cable internet was first introduced and there was no such thing as a speed or bandwidth cap, because the adoption rate was still slow and they figured that no user could possibly hog all the bandwidth just by browsing. Most people still lived with dial-up instead of paying $20 more for broadband. There were no (manually imposed) limits, other than the limits of the technology. I remember watching a download of Netscape, about 40mb. I went as high as 1000 kBytes/sec, which, at that time, could have been the limit of the entire neighborhood "server". I started logging into BBSes less often.. I was really happy with the service, up until I started getting really horrible ping times, which affected my ARC games. There was not enough bandwidth to go around for everyone in the neigborhood, even with an imposed 1.5mbps speed cap for all users. Everytime I'd call Rogers, a TSR would just be reading a script to me. "Did you plug in the power?" "Is the cable connected?" "Is the modem connected to your PC?" "Can you power cycle the modem?" "Still not working? I'll have to open a ticket for you..".. I noticed that I'd get different answers and different viewpoints from reps every time I called, and that's when I noticed the big flaw that all big corporations face - with more people in the company, the percentage of tech-savvy representatives drops. Those who absolutely knew the technology inside out and knew the truth of what exactly the problem is.. If I was lucky when I called, I'd get to talk to these guys, who diagnosed everything, on my side and on their side, and knew that something had to be done - Rogers had to upgrade their hardware to eliminate the strain. If I was unlucky, I'd get one who say the problem was that the game servers I'm playing on were giving me the bad ping times and that Rogers does not provide support for games so they wouldn't be able to help me with my problem at all. After several weeks of my bickering, they upgraded their hardware and had reps check the connection in my house. Finally, they did something right. My internet was fast again and the ping times were less than 100 - good enough to play ARC properly!! It wasn't over though - a few months passed, and got an e-mail telling me that I was flagged as one who is "downloading too much" and that I'd better stop download or they'll cut my service. Absurd! I'm paying for unlimited internet usage. What kind of a corporation sells an unlimited internet services, yet limits their users to how much they can use? I called them and asked. They explain that unlimited is defined as "unlimited to the point where you don't disrupt the browsing experience of others". That's bull, and Roger's problem, not mine. Apparently I was not the only one and there was some media coverage over the issue. Ted Rogers marked us as "some kind of terrorist, thief or at the very least a 'system abuser' and 'bandwidth hog' who is threatening the peaceful internet usage of all Canadians." I did limit my downloading a bit, but not enough for them to be happy. They cut my service and I was really pissed. I decided that Rogers was not the type of corporation that deserves my money, so I switched to Bell Sympatico.

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