About fourteen months ago, my Internet Service Provider (ISP) had a multi-day outage. Caused by a break in their fibre and no redundancy, my ISP was down for about three days. While they have had a few smaller outages, it started to stabilize. Their customer service ran from apathetic, to hostile (once, I got yelled at because of how I tried to explain how my name is spelled).
It is the twenty-first century, not 1996. Internet access is no longer the domain of a few quirky geeky, but has become woven into much of our daily lives. In my opinion, ISPs should not be having multi-day outages in 2014.
My ISP had their second outage this week. It started, for us, last Wednesday (April 24). A call to tech support–just under the wire of their closing time (7 PM)–told us it would be Friday or Saturday. Friday morning, they were saying Saturday morning. They were not explaining what was going on beyond describing it as a “fibre outage.” I tried again on my way home from work: the new estimated time to restore service was Monday.
I walked in the door, and told my wife we needed to change ISPs. By 10 PM, after some family time and supper, I was on the new ISP. It took longer to get my wireless access point talking to the new modem than anything else. Fourfold faster speed for roughly the same money, and better support hours.
Out of curiosity, I tracked the outage. On Monday, during the few times I could get through, I was told they were no longer quoting an estimated time to be back up. A reporter reached out to me for details for a “consumer alert” story. I canceled earlier today, and have heard that they are back up as of this writing (9:10 PM).
We’ve made a few decisions over the years to make switching easier. Our personal email is no longer tied to our ISP but online services like GMail. Our household network is set up in such a fashion that the modem can be swapped out at will (give or take a compatibility glitch). Planning not to be tied to a single provider was a wise decision.
As for our old ISP, I’m not sure what to think. Are they making the investments in their infrastructure to be a viable Twenty-First century ISP, or are they risking a long decline?