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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Frustration thy name is wireless.

We were sitting with friends on the back porch after Sunday dinner when we first saw it. Everyone had their gaze focused on the horizon, watching the sunset. Suddenly Tom says, “when did that show up?” He pointed out a tower that we had first noticed a few days earlier. Somewhere around County Road 18, a new tower has been erected. I can only assume it’s a telecommunications tower.
Of course I’m hoping it’s a wireless Internet tower. When I first set up my Internet at home, I made everything all cozy and convenient in my main floor office. But I couldn’t get a connection there. I wandered around the house with my laptop, turbo stick in place, and still couldn’t get a good signal. I sat in the kitchen, in the living room, in the TV room, even in my bedroom. The most I got was two out of five bars. Then I tried the signal in my daughter’s room. Bingo. Four bars. For the rest of that year of freelancing I had to do all my offline work during the day and save my online work for when my daughter was away at work. Frustration, thy name is wireless.
Yes, I called tech services at my wireless provider. I spent four wonderful hours (two hours twice) getting to know two different techie people. They were amazingly patient, determined and persistent. We went step-by-step through all of my problems with the Internet service at the farm. Finally, after trouble shooting, rebooting, restarting and restoring, we gave up. On both of these tech calls, my helper eventually had to concede, “I’m sorry, ma’am. There appears to be a block on the tower.” A block on the tower? Well take it off! What does that mean, exactly?
“The tower is overloaded.” Well, now we’re getting somewhere.
“You mean you sold too many people onto the service and now none of us are getting a good signal.”
“Basically, yes.”
“Well, what are you going to do about that?”
I was put on hold again while the technician searched for someone trained to provide the appropriate answer for such a question. After a few minutes he came back.
“If you try using your Internet late at night or early in the morning, you should be fine.”
Uh huh. “Maybe you should credit me some of the monthly fees I have been paying, because you can see I have had virtually no usage.”
“Your contract does not guarantee uninterrupted service, ma’am.”
“So will you be building a new tower soon, to accommodate all of your customers?”
“Probably. As soon as we have sold enough contracts to finance that development.”
Uh huh. I thanked the nice man and hung up on him. A week later I tried again and an equally tactful and diplomatic woman spent over ninety minutes going through technical issues with me before finally coming to the same exact conclusion. When she got to the “there seems to be a block on the tower” part, I just skipped to the end and explained the rest to her. Saved her the trouble of going and getting the appropriate response from her supervisor.
I am locked into that particular contract until the spring of 2014. I don’t use the Internet enough at home to justify the cost of the cancellation fee so that I can switch to a new provider. And so I suffer. But I plan to give myself the birthday gift of new Internet services come April.
The Farmer has considerably less patience than I do when it comes to technical issues. When he set up his real estate office at home, he banged his head on the desk for about a month before finally giving up and moving into the room that Paulina has recently vacated. It is still the only spot in the house where you can get a clear wireless signal. And that is only in the middle of the day, when all of the neighbours are not using it. Good luck getting on between 4pm and midnight, or anytime on the weekend.
We sipped our drinks and watched the sun go down, beside the new tower that was marring our perfect horizon. And as soon as dusk settled, the darn thing started blinking.
Great. Now it’s going to scare the horse.

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