Monday, September 03, 2007

Wilmette's Terrible Storm: The Digital Divide Emerges

AT&T is peddling its “lightning fast” Internet service on TV again, and if I were you I’d turn and run in terror before signing up. Website censorship, blog blocking and even the Internet freedom-fearing Chinese government has been unable to accomplish what AT&T has done here in Wilmette, having effectively killed the Internet in two weeks flat.

Today is the one week anniversary of my restoration of electric power following that great and terrible storm in Wilmette on Thursday, August 24, 2007. Very slowly, order is being restored to the interior of our homes and life outside homes is looking more normal. There are plenty of trees to be sawed up and hauled way still, but the vast piles of garbage are gone. The ground has dried to the point that watering the flowers is necessary. But I digress.

For over a year, I had no need to call my ISP, AT&T. During the winter I rejoiced that I finally was getting a stable and reliable Internet connection from AT&T. When spring began, so did the Internet connection problems. After several fixes, the speed became so slow that Youtube stuttered. When I complained, AT&T techs cheerfully reminded that my connection was ten times faster than dial up. Those cheerful AT&T techs had little to say when I remarked that my connection really is not first world stuff, the speed rating somewhere behind central Africa or Sri Lanka.

Even though I pay for premium service, I was assured that my connection was “as good as the neighbors.” It’s not exactly like I wanted to keep up with the Jones’ here, folks. From all evidence, my premium service means I get to talk to someone quickly who promises to dispatch a repair man, but can’t help me at all. My latest trouble ticket from days ago remains unanswered, even though linemen have been in the house, behind the house, down the block, and it was announced that all phone problems in my area would be solved yesterday night. Well, I guess I can use the phone now, but that’s about it.

Despite the fact I have phone service, the Internet is now completely missing, gone. No intermittent connectivity here, there is nothing but the new knowledge that DSL isn’t reliable even though the phones are on.

I’m back at that restaurant again, blogging this update, having submitted myself to the Laws of Texas and indemnifying the entire management of the mother company for the privilege of a little connectivity. The food isn’t very good, but the wireless and plugs do me fine.

If you e-mail me, don’t expect a reply any time soon. Like in the olden days, I’ll toddle up town every now and again and see what the gmail postman has brought and dash off a quick reply. Meantime, I’m staring at the digital divide from the wrong side of the information highway, and I don’t like it one bit.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Brian said...

I'm in Wilmette, and I've been pretty happy with Speakeasy. I can get naked DSL and VOIP. It's a little pricey but the service is great.

Sep 6, 2007, 7:16:00 AM  
Blogger Publia said...

I called Comcast; I didn't know about Speakeasy. With Comcast I could cancel any time; it isn't cheap, but maybe its a solution. I will have to find out more about Speakeasy--thanks for the tip.

Sep 6, 2007, 11:35:00 PM  

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