Life at the end of the road

January 4, 2008

the joys of dial up (or BT suck)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:34 am

Well it was back to work proper yesterday and as I’d not been on the ferry proper since my holidays started in november i was pretty shattered when i got in last night so went straight to bed. Thought I’d do a few lines this morning before 6:00 but it’s taken me 22mins to get to this page!!! I know we live in the sticks but you think that in this day and age we’d be able to get a decent internet connection. The very best i can hope for is 31.2kbps and that costs us over £30 per month cos we need a dedicated line as the ferry has to be able to phone me in emergencies and our telephone exchange wont support that service that lets you know if someones trying to get through whilst your on line! The best of it is when i finally did get my phone line in around 1993 after waiting almost 4 years they laid a cable 10 miles to the end of my drive that could support 50 individual phone lines! dunno if they were expecting a population boom at Arnish but 15 years on there’s still only 3 of us here! you think with all that spare capacity in the cable they would at least be able to improve the connection speed.

When i first moved here the phone line was poled in but it only had two wires and both lines were taken up by holiday homes that were only occupied for a couple of weeks a year. Still they were there first and paid their line rental so not much i could do about that. The good news was when i approached BT they said the line was due for upgrade anyway and i would get connected for the standard fee (eventually). 3 or 4 years later the squad arrived at Sconser ferry terminal with a huge lorry with the cable. Now someone in their wisdom had found 10 miles of 50 pair cable in Aberdeen and thought it would be good to use that. Now bear in mind that the most households that have been occupied at any one time here in the last 40 years is 3 it seems to me a trifle optimistic. Of course this cable is 3 or 4 times heavier and bulkier so the larger lorry required could not get on the wee ferry. The cable was then left at Sconser for a few weeks till a smaller lorry could be found, the lorry that came could not lift the drums of cable so another couple of weeks past until a crane could be found and eventually a month after the promised connection date work started.

Fair play to the engineers the line was laid (though not joined) very quickly and after a further delay of a week we had a phone for the standard connection fee that had cost an arm and a leg to lay. The story does not end here though, my friends from Torran (see a very quiet day post) applied for a phone also and their house is a mile down a track. As they had had one 40 years previously the got it for the reconnection fee! not only that but they got their tractor stuck down the track and had to employ yours truly to remove it. This I did for the princely sum of 100 used telegraph poles!

Having read the title of this post you may think I’m being a little unfair and on the whole for the next 10 or 12 years all was peachy, well apart from the line being so quiet and a bit crackly. I did ask them to double or treble up the cable to improve the performance but they wouldn’t. It all went a bit squiffy when i went on line, phoned BT up to get dial up, we can give you broadband they said, no you can’t says I we’re 10 miles form the exchange oh yes we can says they. Now bear in mind I’ve spoken to the BT engineers several times about this. After the usual week or so of waiting the modem etc arrives and a couple of days later the engineer to do his bit in the exchange. So after another week of messing about they tell me it won’t work, what a suprise ! Another week passes for my dial up package to arrive and at long last I’m on the internet. Discovering that I cant tell if anyone wants to get through whilst I’m on line because of the ancient exchange I order another line. When i phone up I ask for a dedicated internet line (surely I’m not the only one) but I’m told i must take a calls package with it ????? still we need it so what the hell.

The new line is installed and YIPEE it works, for about 6 weeks. It then starts dropping connections and eventually becomes unusable, they test the line and tell me it’s fine so it must be my equipment. I have 2 other lines (my own and one in a nearby chalet) and the same laptop works fine on both of those. After I tell them this they agree to send out an engineer. 6 weeks and as many engineers  later it’s still the same. I’ve spoken to and emailed half the population of New  Deli, who can’t tell what I’m saying but assure me my line is fine! By now their website won’t even let me complain because my fault has been closed out and my life is too short to spend 40 mins every day waiting to speak to someone in the Indian sub continent so in desperation i ask them just to swap the numbers round on the house lines as the line they had just installed was fine for voice calls.

This they did but instead of just swapping them at the exchange (which they did in the past) they took one number off allocated it another number then gave that number to the other phone then took that number off and swapped it!!!! the net result of this was that all our services ended up on the wrong number. This was further complicated by the fact that our calls went through Toucan and now they were going through BT who had some how closed our account with Toucan.  Of course they didn’t tell us any of this and the first we new of it was the ‘sorry your leaving’ letter from Toucan. Can you believe it took a further 3 months to sort this out!!!! and whilst they did Knock something off our bill they have still not admitted a fault on the line.

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