If you've been following my ongoing adventures with Nyx Net's dialup service, you know it's
been giving me headaches for a couple of months, in between the work involved in handling dialup
service in newer and cheaper ways...and the work involved in dealing with providers flaking out
or not providing the services agreed to.
If you haven't been following my adventures in dialup, suffice it to say that it's been giving me
headaches for a couple of months, in between the work involved in handling dialup service in newer
and cheaper ways...and the work involved in dealing with providers flaking out or not providing the
services agreed to.
I *think* the last of the problems have finally been worked out, and it all came to pass through a
long day of aggravating but ultimately productive phone calls.
After the previous dialup provider didn't provide dialup, I finally ended up switching from our old
ISDN PRI circuit from ICG to the much cheaper solution of using a couple of ISDN BRI lines from Qwest.
I'm cutting down on the number of lines in the process, but dialup usage has dropped steadily over the
years, while the cost on the PRI circuit has been steadily increasing. The switch will save Nyx over 75%
on its monthly dialup expenses.
I got new equipment in to handle the lines (a 3Com RAS 1500 unit), got it set up, configured, and
tested, and when Qwest finally got the lines installed, not so very long after the installation
date, it worked right off the bat.
The lines weren't rolling over when busy. They weren't even *busy* when busy. If a modem was in use
and another call came in, instead of going to the next modem, it got routed to some other number
where nobody ever picked it up. It just rang endlessly. If calls aren't being routed to your other
lines, what's the point of having all those lines in the first place?
And so the day began, much like any other, with my calling Qwest to ask why the lines weren't
working, since they said they'd have them fixed the day before.
But this day was not like any other, because I got a call back from "George," who was an actual
ISDN technician, not just a mere customer service represetative like all the others.
Unlike the mere customer service reps, unfamiliar with this kind of technology, it seemed nearly
impossible at first to get him to understand the concept of a modem and how it
might be different from a voice telephone. This particular conceptual gap ruled the first part
of our day; I kept trying to explain the problem, he kept trying to talk about telephones.
note: this is not a telephone
Eventually, we moved on to Act II, Call I, in which he switched to the tactic of insisting that there
was no way to route phone calls go to the next line when one was busy. No one, apparently, has
ever done this before, or, perhaps, even thought of a reason for such a service.
Though I, personally, suspected that even Qwest itself could handle more than one incoming call at
a time. I could be wrong, however.
(Sarcasm, I should point out, has no effect on some people. This doesn't mean that being sarcastic can't still
be personally satisfying. But I digress....)
As the day wore on, we made our way past this particular area of disagreement and moved on to Act III, Call II, in which
George had had checked their files and determined that everything really was working fine after all. In the past, I had been
able to dissuade lowly customer service reps from similar misapprehensions by the simple method of dialing the
appropriate numbers using my fax line and holding the handsets together so they could listen to
how "ringing endlessly" sounds different from "modem handshake." Not so with George; a mere
demonstration that it wasn't working was quite insufficient to shake his newfound belief that it
was working and had really been working all along, since that's what their records said.
I asked if he thought Qwest would mind if I just marked their bills as "PAID" in my own accounting
records and never bothered sending them checks? That would be fair, right?
It pretty much went downhill from there. He insisted that if anything was wrong, it was entirely
my fault and the fault of my equipment. I responded that if the calls weren't even being routed to
my equipment, how could my equipment be at fault? I insisted that this was standard equipment
and a standard way to use BRI lines. He insisted that it wasn't any such thing.
At some point before either of us had accused the other one's mother of being a hamster, he
abruptly announced that he was going to go get someone else in his department who had
*thirty* years experience in these things and *that* person would tell me *exactly* the same
things he had been telling me all along.
And, so, I was on hold while I awaited the coming of this Wizard of Telecom who, according to
prophesy, would appear on the line and set me straight.
About a minute and a half later, he came back on the line. "It's working now," he said quietly.
I tested it. Sure enough, everything was working just as it was supposed to.
I asked him what they'd changed; he wouldn't tell me. I asked him what had been wrong and
he wouldn't tell me that either.
But it *was* working, and that's really all that matters.
I'm disappointed, somehow, that the Wizard of Telecom never appeared. I shall just have to
delve into my own wardrobe department and see what lurks therein.