Praise for Teksavvy tech support

2010-05-29

in Daily updates, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Ottawa

For the last few months, my internet connection has been maddeningly unreliable. Oftentimes, it has trouble with basic tasks like loading text-based websites or accessing email. The only mechanism I have found for improving matters was to power down my DSL router, wait a few minutes, and then turn it back on. That made things better for a little while, but it soon got patchy again. TekSavvy is my internet service provider.

Non-geeks may want to skip the next section.

Technical details

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a TekSavvy customer support guy named Peter who helped me break down the problem. Replacing the phone cord between the modem and the wall did nothing. The problem could be the modem, the wiring in my house, or the wiring outside. To know, I would need to test the connection at the demarcation point between the Bell network (which TekSavvy leases) and my apartment’s own wiring. To isolate a modem problem, I would also need to test it with another modem.

Today, I cycled way up Bank Street to the Home Depot beyond Billings Bridge. Despite not having a driver’s license, I convinced the manager there to rent me a 50′ extension cord for 24 hours.

My one complaint about tonight is how long it took to talk to a TekSavvy tech person. I called their customer service line at about 10pm and was told someone would call be back ‘shortly.’ Forty-five minutes later, I called again and was told they had no record of me calling before. I waited some more. Then, at 12:30am, I called their customer support person and told them I had been told two and a half hours before that someone would call me shortly. At that point, the customer service person put me directly through to Todd in tech support.

He was extremely helpful. Out in the rain with my headlamp, modem, multi-tool, and extension cord, I plugged my modem directly into the demarcation point. From there, it synced properly and at the right speed. My heart sank a bit. That meant the problem was with my wiring: Bell would not fix it for free and, in the worst case, it would be necessary to rip out from the walls. I started thinking about switching to a cable modem.

Todd then explained to me that the problem could just be corrosion. The inside of the box at the demarcation point had fine black powder covering every horizontal surface. The male portion of the telephone connector inside was also brown and gunky. After scraping through the gunk on the male portion of the connector, I closed up the box and moved my modem back inside. Now, according to TekSavvy’s diagnostic, it is syncing much better.

The next step is to do a more serious reworking of that demarcation box. Ideally, I should clip the copper wires inside, strip the ends, and wrap those around the connectors. Then, I should cover them with some sort of waterproof, oxygen-excluding gunk (Vaseline?) and seal up the whole box better than it was before. That might allow decent, reliable internet access without the need to tear wires out of my walls. Another possibility for improvement is replacing the telephone jack inside.

Conclusions

All told, I am very pleased with the service from TekSavvy. After all, the wiring in the old house where I live is not their responsibility. Rather than make me pay for some Bell person to come out, test at the demarcation point, and throw up his hands saying that the problem is my wiring, they helped me isolate the problem, and then suggested practical steps for improving the situation and hopefully eventually resolving it.

I called their customer service person one more time and asked her to make a note in the tech guy’s file that he had really helped me out and I appreciated it.

One thing about all this is a bit funny. While it is easy to think of the internet as some ethereal thing that empowers human communication like nothing before it, it is also possible for a gunky little connector inside a sooty grey plastic box to interrupt it, causing months of agitation for a person like myself.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

BuddyRich May 29, 2010 at 10:46 am

I have nothing but praise for Teksavvy… not to defend them but their phone support has been hectic as of late as they have a few new developments afoot… and how can you not like a company where the CEO converses with users on a local forum and is, dare I say it, an ethical business man. (http://www.dslreports.com/forum/teksavvy)

Sadly, recent decisions by the CRTC allowing Bell (and other telco incumbents) to implement UBB (usage based billing) on their wholesalers, with arbitrarily low limits and high overage charges that are nothing but pure profit gouging are doing their best drive the wholesalers out of business. Especially with no proof that Bell’s internal network was being overloaded (the reason given to the CRTC by Bell to be allowed to implement UBB). That and with their continued use of DPI to throttle speeds, Bell is really doing their best to drive business away. If only we had a choice in this duopoly.

On that front, Teksavvy has just started offering cable internet, wholesaled from Rogers (and Videotron in Quebec). They are offering Rogers levels speeds of 10Mbps/1Mbps for at a base price similar to their DSL offering and offering higher speed tiers for more money. Finally I can get a 24Mbs/2Mbs connection. More importantly they are offering unlimited and 200GB/month packages (vs. the 60GB of Bell or 95GB of Rogers).

Unfortunately their cables POIs are only built up in TO and some places in Quebec currently but they plan to roll out to the 3 Ottawa PHUBS (head-ends) between June and August this year. A fairly aggressive schedule. The only negative is that they do not allow a static IP on cable. Still as soon as I can I’ll be going to Teksavvy cable, indirectly giving my wholesale dollar to Rogers to voice my displeasure with Bell.

Add to this CRTC foolishness the threat of a new non-consumer friendly copyright bill coming (a rehashed version of the unpopular C-61) that despite all of the “consultation” is not significantly changed from its predecessor or Canada actually ratifying ACTA as it stands in its draft form and Canada just digs itself deeper into a digital hole of its own making.

As for you Demarc experience we recently moved to a newer (yet older wired house – our old place had been rewired) and have problems with our internal wiring. Internet is surprising fine, but incoming calls on the land line don’t ring through, so everything (modem, cordless phone) is hooked up to the Demarc jack in the garage at the moment. I know its a problem with the interior and I refuse to pay the rates Bell charges to have them fix it. I’ve got my multimeter and a jack tester and have been meaning to go and test the wiring inside, i figure I have an incorrectly wired jack somewhere, either a short or reversed polarity. They are all daisy-chained from one another, rather than home runs so I have to start at the first jack closest to the Demarc and work my way out. Plus it uses older untwisted 2 pair wire, vs. newer Cat 5 cable. The old Christmas and Halloween pairs but I haven’t done the testing yet as the weather has been too nice to spend it inside as of late.

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