Quest for Qwest

I decided to swap my household from Speakeasy Networks DSL service to Qwest. This is not a decision I took lightly. I've been a Speakeasy customer for about five years, and been generally happy with them. We hooked up a second line at home using Speakeasy VoIP service, which is configured so that no bits actually pass over the Internet, making for a high-quality line.

But, in the end, we were paying too much, partly due to the monopoly control situation that telcos have. Speakeasy was charging us $90 per month for 1.5 Mbps/384 Kbps plus unlimited voice (including tax). I'll get 3 Mbps/640 Kbps (and faster service as lines improve) for about $40 per month from Qwest. We never thought about killing our main Qwest line because we've had too many power outages: regular phone lines still work when there's no power (most of the time), and our alarm circuit is tied into the regular line. Qwest gives me $5 per month off DSL for having a landline bundle.

I was curious how the transition would work, because I figured we'd lose or current service at least temporarily. Fortunately, I'm testing cell routers right now, and had one I could bring home to use in typical circumstances. A cell router typically has Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections for the local network, and backhauls data over a cellular data network, often Sprint Nextel or Verizon's. The cell data connection in my house appears nearly as fast as my Speakeasy DSL was, partly because I had slow DSL and Sprint has upgraded its Seattle network to a faster flavor over the last few months.

So I had a stopgap in place this morning, since today was the likely switchover. At some point, the DSL from Speakeasy did stop working, and the new modem from Qwest arrived today.

It was a cinch to hook it up, and they included configuration software for Mac and Windows, despite stating in all their literature that they don't support Macs per se (they don't offer MSN software for Mac OS X, since it doesn't exist, and that's their services partner for email, etc.).

Of course, I'm always an edge case, and after easily getting a nice, fast connection going, the router stopped being responsive. Every time I went to check on it via its integral Web server, it rebooted. Gah. I called Qwest, and instantly got one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever spoken to in tech support anywhere. I didn't have to do any nonsense. We went through a factory reset, and he reset the DSL port on the Qwest side. At one point, we were talking about using UV to trigger an EEPROM rewrite.

The router seemed to be okay, so I got off the call. Within minutes, it was exhibiting the same problem again. Another call, this time a 15-minute wait, and another of the most technically sophisticated tech support guys or gals I've ever spoken to. With a few minutes' troubleshooting, he agreed it was a hardware fault, and is sending me a new modem.