Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

So Much For Modern Technology

In 1998 I got broadband internet for the first time when I moved into the dorms at Southern Illinois University. It was amazing. I could actually watch video or download music without waiting all night for a single song.

Most of all, though, the service was reliable as was the service in most places we lived over the next 17 years.

When we left Austin, in 2015, we had more than 100mb up and down and we paid less than $100/month for that. This was on AT&T which we moved to due to issues with Time Warner in TX but throughout our 3 years there the issues weren’t bad.

Florida has been something else entirely.

We don’t live in the country in Florida. We live in an area where, currently, the 1960s houses go for over $500,000 and we can walk to Siesta Key and more. It’s well built up and, considering the cost of living, it would be a reasonable expectation to think that we should be able to get reliable internet. If you thought that, however, you would be wrong.

When we first got here we signed up for Verizon Fios which was great. They sold to Frontier after a couple of years which worked for us until the week I started at WP Engine in 2018. That week Frontier went out and they told us it would be at least 3 weeks before we could get a tech to even look at it.

That isn’t a huge surprise for Frontier. We learned when they moved into Illinois that their business model seems to be to buy existing infrastructure, raise or maintain their rates and leave the infrastructure they bought to rot until they eventually leave the area. Great fun when you need to rely on it, eh?

Thankfully we sort of have two options here. We switched to Xfinity because, instead of 3 weeks or more, they could be out the next morning and get us service. Great, or so we thought.

Since then it has been something of a nightmare. After a few months it started going down daily and we spent almost 3 years trying to get them to fix it until they finally seem to have solved that problem this past spring. It was bad enough that we tried to go back to Frontier but, until a few weeks ago, they said the the only service available at our house was 3mb DSL (so much for fixing the previous issue in 3 weeks, I guess). We were stuck.

Through call after call, visit after visit Xfinity would continuously confirm the issues were on their network but would refuse to fix them. One tech went so far as explaining the issue with the drop we connect to and then documented it as our equipment leading to charges for the service call that took weeks to solve.

For the last few months Xfinity has been relatively stable until this week when the new issue is that, while we can do almost everything we need to do, when directly on the Xfinity network we cannot connect to Zoom, a tool both my wife and I rely on for our jobs. In order to use Zoom from home we have to first connect to a VPN and then, and only then, we can use the Zoom network.

I tried calling support but after an hour with various techs they couldn’t even understand the problem much less offer a fix. For the benefit of 300mb down/ 10mb up with unreliable service we pay $79/month. I’ve had to stop using various services due to the upload limit as 10mb simply isn’t enough for so many things and we can’t upgrade it. Even their gigabit service offers only 10mb upload here. To make matters worse I rarely see more than 3 or 4 mb up in any speed test. With all of that we also have a 1TB monthly cap that charges us extra every time we go over it, something we do regularly as we both work from home and all our TV is streaming. To say it’s frustrating would be an understatement.

A few weeks ago Frontier said we could now get service with them again and that they offer up to 2GB symmetrical fiber with no bandwidth caps (a new network YAY, maybe I was wrong on them last time?). I tried to sign up but, even with us being a previous customer, after 3 tries they couldn’t verify my identity so we couldn’t get an account.

I’m at my wits end with this. In 2022, in one of the richest towns in the US, we cannot even buy reliable internet. Xfinity isn’t reliable, Frontier cannot even figure out how to open an account for us and T-Mobile, which now offers home internet, says they cannot service our address. This should not be a problem we need to deal with but, it’s Florida so I’m guessing it’s only going to get worse.