More on Broadband

I’m posting todays news from Mozilla 0.7. This version is another incremental improvement over v0.6. This version finally includes SSL support and it seems to work. On Windows NT, it crashes maybe once per hour or so. On my Red Hat 6.1/Intel box it has crashed a couple of times. On my newer Red Hat 7.0 box (my main workstation), it has been running for several days under heavy usage with no crashes. I haven’t found any sites that break it yet. It still sucks up a lot of memory but seems a bit faster than v0.6.

While I suspect I haven’t seen the last of my Verizon DSL billing problem, I am one step closer to getting decent Net access at home. This is a Good Thing. I seem to be the last person left on Earth who has to access The Net through a dial-up modem. I described my Verizon DSL horror story previously. I’ve also tried contacting ATT about their wireless broadband service. It sounds cool – high speed Net access plus local and long distance phone service. The downside is that it doesn’t use Ethernet to connect to the computer like DSL or Cable Modems. It has some sort of special hardware that requires a USB connection and they only provide drivers for Windows 95/98. We have a Linux/Intel box and a Windows NT4 box at home and I’m not inclined to downgrade either of them. I called a few other wireless boradband service providers such as Broadbandnow but they don’t provide service in my area (or provide it only to business or apartment complexes). I’ve also called our local cable company several times over the last year or so and they always say they’re going to offer cable modem Net access but it’s always a few months away.

Well, I called the cable company yesterday and they said they were scheduled to start providing Internet service as of next week. They took down some info from me and I’m on the list to get it installed. I don’t know how fast it will be or what kind of hardware they offer or if I’ll get static or dynamic IPs. And I’d prefer DSL but anything beats dial-up. I just hope the installers don’t make any trouble for me because of my Linux box.

Verizon DSL Disaster Continues

GTE may have changed their name to Verizon but they still have the same really bad customer service. They could give Verio a run for the money when it comes to having the least helpful, most incompetent customer service.

Several months ago I made the mistake of calling Verizon and asking if I could possibly get DSL service. They said it wasn’t available in my area and I thought that was the end of the matter. But Verizon decided to bill me for DSL even though I can’t have it. So I’ve spent several hours on the phone with them since then trying to get the bogus DSL charges removed from my bill. Every month when a new phone bill arrives it turns out that not only have they not fixed the problem, they’ve added a new month of charges.

The general process you go through in a case like this is to call the phone number provided on the phone bill for billing problems and explain the problem (even when you ask them to, they never keep a record of any previous calls, so you always have to start from scratch). Next the billing office will tell you that you have to talk to the Internet office. The Internet office will tell you to call the DSL office. The DSL office will say they can’t get involved in billing problems, they only handle DSL problems. Sometimes if you complain enough and sound angry enough, they forward you to a supervisor who makes up some whacky explanation for the how to get DSL charges off your bill.

These whacky explanations will be different each time you call and, of course, none of them work. Today’s supervisor insisted that I had to get someone in the DSL department to send an email to the accounting department requesting that the non-existent DSL service be removed from the bill. This was because, they said, the accounting department isn’t allowed to correct billing problems discovered by customers, but will instantly fix billing problems discovered by other internal Verizon departments. Yeah right. last months solution involved setting up a three or four person conference call with representatives from all three departments because they had to all simulaneously fix the problem. At one point it was even suggested that the easiest solution would be to “just pay the bill since it wasn’t very much”. I can hardly wait to see what they come up with next month.

Broadband at Home

Woohoo! We may finally be able to get a real Internet connection at home. GTE claims they are finally offering DSL in our area. I’ve been assigned an install date but, with GTE involved, I’ll have to see it installed and working before I fully believe. We’ve called the phone company and cable company periodically for a couple of years asking for ISDN, DSL or cable modem access but, up until now nothing has been available. We’ve been stuck with a 56k modem on an analog line. I’m planning on picking up one of those Linksys DSL routers unless someone has a better suggestion.