Woah. It’s like… the whole internet is at my finger tips…

originally posted at http://shovelfu.com/node/1063

For the last 6 years I have struggled at home with poor internet. When I first moved into the Cambria townhomes development, things were pretty good but already outdated. We had 2 T1 lines into the park shared over a cable TV system that delivered a wacky bundle of internet service and Dish Network TV over the coaxial cable plant in the neighborhood. This was a poor design choice on the part of Trophy Homes (the builder, since gone out of business I think), since coax has been a second place to fiber for at least the last 10 years when it comes to any kind of wide area network design.

So, of course, after a year or so went by and the houses were filling up, the bandwidth was choking. The provider for the network, a weird Mom+Pop company called Whyr’d, upped the connection to 3 and I think at some point, possibly a 4th T1 line. Each T1 is about 1.5 megabit of capacity so at peak we had about 6 megabit of capacity for the neighborhood (over 200 family units). Of course this wasn’t enough. Not to mention the fact that somehow, despite T1 lines being ultra reliable, in my experience, they couldn’t keep the system working for more than a week or two at a time. Constant outages and poor performance were the norm. Basically I just got used to not being able to use the internet at home for more than the most basic tasks of logging into my work computer or checking email etc.

So after a couple years, Trophy Homes turned over management of the HOA to the owners and bowed out. Soon after the new owner managed HOA took over it started trying to push Whyr’d to adhere to their contract which stated some penalties for outages and stuff. Basically Whyr’d told us to fly a kite and kept coming back with excuse after excuse but never did anything to improve the situation despite numerous options for improvement.

Eventually things got really bad and we decided to cut them off and bring in a new provider. Veracity got the low bid in I guess so they were chosen, mostly because they promised to bring in a 100 megabit fiber link for everyone to use. At the same time it was decided to bring in a real satellite provider and put a dish on each building so owners could have proper TV choices. Unfortunately, at this point, Whyr’d tried to bring up some legal thing about them owning the cable plant between the buildings. Besides being illegal and ridiculous, it was basically the last straw for that company because they went out of business at pretty much the same time we decided to fight it in court. It went to arbitration and, long story short, we won. Unfortunately that process took 2 or 3 years, so in the interrim we had Veracity providing internet service to the park over a huge shared wireless network covering the whole place with like 100 wireless access points and stuff all over. It was terrible. Constant, pervasive packet loss of 5% or more. Even when it was working well, I could only get about 3-5 megabit. The worst part was that since it was all wireless, I either had to have a wireless card installed in every device I wanted to use in my home (expensive and cumbersome) or get a wireless router with 2 radios in it to act as both client to connect to the Veracity network and as an access point for my own use for my wireless devices.

I felt I had no choice but to buy the expensive 2 radio wireless router. I found a good deal on a Linksys E3000 refurb for $99 (normally $160 at that time). It worked well enough but it was basically bombarded with constant traffic from the wireless network everyone was connected to (over 200 other devices I would bet) so it would overheat and freeze up on occasion. Consumer devices just aren’t designed to work in that kind of network. Nothing is really.

So, finally after the arbitration was declared in our favor, a plan was put in place to do fiber connections from the clubhouse to each building. After several months of work, they got the fiber in and sent out word that we needed to schedule to have a tech from Veracity come to our homes and wire in the new connection from the network switch in each building to our network port of choice inside the home.

I jumped on that and scheduled for the next day. I waited with bated breath.

The tech never showed. I called and found that he had gone home sick. So I set another appointment and waited for him again.

Another no-show. Grr. Set another appointment and again, the tech never showed up.

Now I was angry. It had been almost 2 weeks trying to get a simple wire connected into my house. I called and chewed out the customer service rep since they not only had failed to get the tech to show up 3 times in a row, but it turned out that they had no record of ever actually setting any appointments for me!

Well, the 4th time was apparently the charm. Last night he finally came (an hour late though) and took all of 5 minutes to put the connector on the cable and plug the other end into the switch downstairs. Would have done it myself if I knew that was all they had to do.

Anyway, it works:

Great Success!

That’s some serious speed.

Power! Unlimted Power!!

Best part is that is seems very reliable so far. I just hope it stays that way.

So 3 thumbs down to Veracity for failing to properly schedule a technician 3 times in a row, something that should be very easy.

One very big thumbs up for finally providing the speed we were supposed to have 2 years ago.

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