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Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Finally Have Internet Access At Home Again!

Well, after being forced off the information superhighway last week by a modem crash, I am now back online. They say a cow knows not the value of her tail until she loses it. In our modern lives, we have become addicted to things that did not even exist a few years back!

For the 4 days I spent without reliable internet access at home, I felt like a cow with her tail cut off, I guess. Things were happening out there, and I had no way to keep abreast of events. Never mind that most of the events weren't worth knowing about. I still needed my useless news fix, and I needed it badly! I was actually happy to go to work just so that I could read my email and catch up on news while there!

Anyways, as I wrote on Sunday, AT&T did not keep their word on next day delivery of the modem. They told me the modem would be drop-shipped directly from UPS, not from an AT&T warehouse. I guess they have some kind of fulfillment deal with UPS. I know that UPS does not deliver on Saturday, so I had strong doubts that I would get the modem that day. AT&T should really be careful about what they promise though, because over-promising and under-delivering is a sure recipe for customer dissatisfaction.

Even though I was disappointed, I was not too put off by the lack of internet access over the weekend. Knowing what I know about UPS, it was wrong even to have let myself hope that I would have gotten the modem until after the weekend. However, the modem did not make it to me on Monday either. That really got me annoyed.

As soon as I woke up on Tuesday morning, I called AT&T, and let out my frustrations by shouting at the stupid voice response unit that tries to prevent any real work ever getting done over the phone. I got to an agent after I had calmed down significantly, and I explained what my problem was to her. It took her a few minutes, but she was able to pull my account up and see that a modem had been ordered sent out to me. She apologized for my not receiving it on Saturday or Monday. But she did confirm that a modem had been ordered sent out to me.

I asked her for a tracking number or something like that to keep tabs on where the modem was. For some inexplicable reason, getting a UPS tracking number out of her system took her almost 10 minutes. And she had to verify what state I lived in 3 times during this process even though my state is in my address on record! Finally she gave me a tracking number and told me that the tracking details showed that the modem was already out for delivery. I thanked her and got on with my day.

That evening, when I got home from work, the modem had indeed been delivered and was waiting for me. The box did not have my name or address on it anywhere. I have no idea how the UPS driver knew it was meant for me at all. There were no markings (not even a bar code or anything like that) on the box of any sort that I could discern, just a plain brown box taped shut. But it was delivered to me, and that is what matters!

There was an invoice inside the box that did list my name and address. It also specified that the modem was shipped to me 2nd day air. So, the AT&T agent had not actually sent it out to be delivered the next day. It also turns out that the modem was indeed shipped out of a UPS warehouse. And this warehouse is about 10 miles from where I live! It would have been trivially simple for UPS to have sent it for delivery on Monday, the day after the order was put through. But they sat on it for a day because AT&T had only paid for 2nd day air, not next day air! Next thing you know, they will probably fly the modem to some city before flying it back to my area and delivering it, because it was supposed to be shipped 2nd day "air"!!

The modem inside the box was the exact same model as what I had before, a 2Wire 2701 HG-B. The power supply was almost identical to the one that failed last Thursday. It had the same input and output ratings, so I knew it would be compatible with my original modem. The contents of the box were the exact same thing you would get if you signed up for DSL service with AT&T as a new customer. So, it contained a few DSL filters, an ethernet cable, a DSL cable, etc., which I don't really need. But I am sure they will come in handy some time in the future, so I put the whole package away carefully.

When I first plugged the new power supply into my old modem the power light did not stay on as I expected. Instead it was blinking slowly. None of the other lights on the modem came on. I then tried the power supply with the new modem and the same thing happened. This was a little vexing to me because I thought they had shipped out a defective unit to me.

But I was relieved when I saw that the quick setup guide that I had earlier ignored mentioned that the lights become steady only over time, and it could take up to 20 minutes for the modem to take stock of the situation and decide to give the all-clear with steady lights. So, I plugged my old modem into the power and DSL line and waited awhile. Sure enough, all the lights eventually came on and stayed on. Problem solved!

And since I was still using my old modem, I did not have to set it up all over again, or adjust any settings on my computers either. As soon as the modem fired up fully, my two wireless laptops immediately connected to it without any problems. My third laptop, which is connected by wire to the modem because it does not have built-in wireless (it is more than 6 years old now) had picked up the connection and was online even before the wireless light on the modem came on and stayed on.

I packed away everything that came in the box except for the new power supply. I now have some cheap networking paraphernalia to use as spares in addition to a brand new DSL modem. In case my old one conks out, but the power supply continues working, I now have a spare modem that I can switch to so that my internet access is uninterrupted. In the meantime, hopefully the Sony PSP power supply I ordered off Ebay should be here before the end of this week, and if it really does work with the 2Wire modem, as some people have claimed, I might have two fully working modems at home if I wanted! And if the PSP power supply does not work with the modem, I guess it is time to go shopping for a PSP!!

In the meantime, based on some advice on some online forums, I went to the 2Wire website and opened up a support ticket about the dead power supply. Somebody mentioned that they got a free power supply from 2Wire by doing this. Since I am a cheap bastard who will take anything anybody gives me for free, I figured there was nothing to lose and possibly something to gain from doing this. I didn't actually expect to get lucky with 2Wire, but I was surprised when 2Wire support actually sent me an email asking me for all kinds of details about my problem (modem serial number, how the problem was diagnosed, etc., etc.). I sent out the details as soon as I had my internet access back up and running at home (Tuesday night), but I have not heard anything back from 2Wire after that initial email. Oh well, I am willing to wait and see how that evolves.

For now, I am just relieved that everything worked out well pretty quickly. Not as quickly as I wanted it to work out, but there is no limit to one's expectations and desires . . . Hopefully the trauma of not having internet access for a couple of days will fade over time! Heck, I can feel it fading even as I type this up!! Now, if AT&T didn't screw up the billing so that I have to wade through their automated menu and voice response systems to get it fixed, I will be very pleased. I will keep you posted on how that goes . . .

Just a quick update at 20:15 on Thursday, March 18th: The PSP power supply I had ordered from eBay arrived by mail today. The seller had promised delivery within the next 11 to 14 days. That is called under-promising and over-delivering! Unfortunately, the power supply did not work with the new modem. The power light would glow steady for about 10 seconds, then would start flashing for the next 15 to 20 seconds. The cycle between glowing steady and blinking goes on forever. So, the new modem seems to be somewhat particular about the voltage it needs out of the power supply (2Wire's power supply specifies 5.1V while the PSP power supply specifies only 5V). I haven't tried the power supply on my old modem (mainly because it is being used, and I didn't want to take all our computers off-line while I did my experiments). Maybe I will try it out later when internet access is not being used quite so heavily. As I said, I can always buy a PSP to go with the power supply!

As for 2Wire, no word from them yet in response to giving them all the information they wanted about my modem.

Another quick update at 14:15 on Friday, March 19th: A 2Wire support representative responded to my email, and confirmed that it looks like a power supply failure. They have now promised to send me a replacement power supply to "trouble-shoot the issue". So, yes, if you have a 2Wire modem issue, contact 2Wire and they will help you solve the problem. 2Wire's website is here, and you can submit a problem ticket using the form on this page. You might have to register by providing your email address before you can use the form.

Now, I have a PSP power supply that has been used for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you have a need for one, just let me know, and I will mail it out to you for just the shipping cost (will probably come to well under $2). Use the comments area below to get in touch with me about this or post a comment just for the heck of it even if you don't want the PSP power supply!

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