My new fun friends

When Julie called a few weeks ago, I sensed future unhappiness. She's an account rep for USA Telephone, the company that bought the company that bought the company that bought the company that used to be the friendly local ISP here in Keene, NH. She was calling to alert me to the latest in this string of acquisitions. There would be a service outage, although she couldn't say exactly when, and an equipment change, or not, she didn't know.

On Monday, I was relieved to learn that I'm good to go, equipment-wise, and would only need to reconfigure my router, Murphy willing. I asked Kevin Railsback at InfoWorld to make the corresponding DNS update, made the changes on my end, crossed my fingers, and went to bed.

As it turned out, Murphy wasn't willing. The guy on USA Telephone's 800 line, when I finally reached him, said the upgrade failed and they had to back out of it. That was a minor annoyance. But when I restored the old configuration I could no longer contact the gateway. That was a major annoyance.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that after a 12-hour service interruption I'm back where I was with the old setup -- or more accurately, with a different version of the old setup.

I have two DSL circuits here. The one that's the subject of today's rant is for business use, and the other is for personal use. On the business side, there have been four changes of ownership in as many years. What was once a local operation is now a faceless corporation whose name I'll hardly bother to learn, because it'll likely change again next year. This, we have come to accept, is the way of the world.

But it doesn't always have to be. On the personal side, I'm dealing with a local operation that has remained local. Some of you will remember my friend and former BYTE colleague Ben Smith. He used to live in Peterborough, where BYTE was located. Ben was the town's first Internet point of presence: a T1 line ran to his house, and his basement was heated by a rack of modems connected to MV Communications in Manchester, NH. If you visit MV's home page, you'll see the tag line "Internet access since 1991". The page is still a wonderful relic from that era.

When I decided to run separate business and personal circuits four years ago, I knew I didn't want to form a new relationship with the company that bought the company that used to be my local ISP. Or with Verizon. Or Time-Warner. So I hooked up with MV instead, and I've never regretted it. Somehow they've managed to buck the trend and remain independent, and from time to time I really appreciate that. One those times was an hour ago. While trying to recover from the outage, I checked USA's home page (by way of my MV circuit) and read:

USA TELEPHONE is the fun and friendly alternative to the big telephone companies. USA offers incomparable customer care...

Well, in any case, I suppose these new fun friends will soon be replaced by newer and funner friends. I can hardly wait.

PS: Yeah, I know, this is the second outburst of grumpiness this week. What can I say? After five weeks of rain and a morning of oral surgery, I needed to vent. When the sun returns and the swelling goes down I'll be back to my usual chipper self, I promise.

Former URL: