Install once, fail twice: A tale of shoddy upgrade

Two is the unlucky number for one company where an Internet upgrade starts off wrong, then bites back later

out of order not in service sign

Make a list and check it thrice -- and remember to check it again when the unexpected occurs.

A couple years ago, we purchased a new office in a distant state. It already had phone and Internet access provided by one of the large national telecoms, but due to the sparseness of booming industries in the area, the bandwidth was abysmal. The 6Mbps down/512Kbps up connection wasn’t sufficient, but there was no other option. The telco assured us we'd hear back as soon as upgrades were available.

In the meantime, the remote site suffered through with weekly, hours-long outages, but no upgrades were scheduled. We had to endure.

Hooray for the upgrade!

Almost a year passed, and I was on the phone with the telco once again during an outage. While the tech was recording my information, he said, “Has anyone told you our superduper Internet speed is now available at that location?” No, I told him, and asked for a quote for the upgrade.

Amazingly, the quoted price represented a 40 percent decrease in the monthly bill and a nearly eight-fold increase in Internet speed -- a deal I couldn’t pass up. I wanted it right then and there, but since I already had a trouble ticket in the hopper I wanted the location functioning before we rolled over to another service. I told him I would get back to them on Friday.

The following day, everything was back up and I called to upgrade to the higher speed. I reiterated that our phones and fax would remain the same and we wished to keep our static IPs. I was told that would not be a problem, and they could be there Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. This move looked even better to me in light of the prompt service.

Monday morning came, and I checked my monitoring system. I could see the remote site was up, but since it was in a later time zone that was fine. At 9:45 my time, it went dark. I assumed the install was in progress, and an employee at the site assured me a telco truck was out on the main road. I figured an hour, maybe two, and we would be back in business at warp speed. When will I ever learn?

Trouble in paradise

Lunchtime came, and the location was still down. I called the site manger’s cell: No trucks anywhere to be seen. I spent lunchtime playing phone tag with the telco, only to discover that its procedure was to drop the service one day, then a new team would hook up the service the next day. Yes, the company was aware it was a business site but said it would be impossible to bring the teams online today, even if we were rolled back to the old service -- no techs available. I should have known.

The following morning, the remote site was back up with the new speed, so we were able to regroup and complete the prior day’s work. All seemed to be well.

Five weeks later, I got a phone call from the remote site: The fax machine wouldn’t send or receive. Puzzled as to what could be wrong, I began my diagnostic routine and ended up back at the install.

I quizzed the employees as to when they noticed that the fax not working. Of course, no one could remember. Being 500 miles away, I decided to contact the telco that did the upgrade and report my suspicions. The telco agreed to send a tech the next morning, stating that if it was at fault, there would be no charge; if not, we'd pay (dearly). Still, it would be cheaper than airfare.

As it turned out, it was the tech’s fault, so we were not charged, but it added another item to my checklist during upgrades. Though the telco didn’t need to or was supposed to touch that line, check it anyway right after the work is completed. You never know.