The Mystery of the Disappearing and the Appearing and Then the Disappearing Again Comcast Internet Service

Ever since The Curmudgeon started using high-speed internet service his service provider has been Comcast.  If you’re a Comcast customer, you’re aware that this is not a good thing.

With so very many customers, Comcast economizes by renting very cheap equipment to those customers.  If you use Comcast high-speed internet you know you’re going to experience periodic interruptions of your service – interruptions that range from a few minutes to a few hours – and that you’ll pretty much be told once a year that you need to take your piece-of-junk modem to a Comcast “store” to trade it in for a newer model piece-of-junk modem.  After observing this little dance for several years, the IT guys at the company for which The Curmudgeon works – remember, The Curmudgeon works at home – decided that maybe the answer was to get him a better modem, a non-Comcast modem, so the company generously purchased a high-quality device for The Curmudgeon.

It didn’t help:  after the high-quality modem failed several times, the IT guys did some diagnostic work and concluded that the quality of the Comcast signal was so poor that the high-quality modem was no more useful than the cheap junk Comcast uses.

Which is yet another reason Comcast uses such junk.

One of the fringe benefits of marriage has been that The Curmudgeon moved into a Verizon FIOS home, and the difference has been startling:  in seven months of day-to-day labors there, internet service was not interrupted even once.

Like the marriage, it was wonderful.

Now, though, The Curmudgeon, along with his wife and stepson, have temporarily relocated to The Curmudgeon’s bachelor condo while their home is undergoing significant renovations.  (And don’t get him started on the renovations:  he is living the Tom Hanks/Shelley Long movie The Money Pit and wondering how Tarek and Christina and Chip and Joanna and those too-pretty-for-comfort HGTV twins get their work done so damned fast.)

And with that temporary move, now in its fifth month – you see, The Curmudgeon wasn’t kidding when he said the work was taking a long time – came a return to Comcast country.

And it’s gone about as he might have expected.

It took less than one month for service to be interrupted and for Comcast to tell The Curmudgeon to go to a Comcast store and trade in his modem for a new one.  (He wrote about that experience here.)  He also has experienced almost weekly service interruptions that typically last between five minutes and an hour.  He’s learned, for example, to wait at least an hour before calling the home office to ask someone to send a message to his co-workers explaining the problem and telling them how to contact The Curmudgeon through alternative means (because interrupted internet access also means the company-supplied internet phone doesn’t work) until service returns.

But not one night recently.  The Curmudgeon noticed at the end of the workday that service was slow and appeared not to be working at times, and then, after dinner, there was no service at all.

Okay, so that happens once in a while and the service usually returns within an hour or two, but this time it didn’t.

But this time something strange was going on.

Because The Curmudgeon is aware that most of these interruptions tend to brief, he sat down at his computer and began to play.  What he found was bizarre.

He turned on his work email software, knowing that he usually receives messages throughout the evening from subscription news services.  There was nothing new.

Which is exactly what you expect if your internet service is down.

He opened up his primary browser, which opens to the web site.  After a minute or two the screen said the site could not be reached.

He tried a few web sites:  this blog, a couple of sports sites, and one of the company web sites for which he writes a blog (he blogs for three company web sites, actually).


Then he tried YouTube, and much to his surprise, the site opened and he was able to watch videos on YouTube.

He then tried streaming YouTube videos to the family TV through Apple TV.  Nothing doing.

He tried Netflix and got the menu but then couldn’t stream anything.

After checking the display on his phone again, as he had been doing intermittently throughout these maneuvers, and still finding it dead, The Curmudgeon went back to his computer and opened his secondary browser, which opens to the Google home page.  It appeared to work, so he performed a random search.  The search results almost instantly appeared on the screen but when he clicked on the links the pages didn’t open.

Okay, so he thought he saw a trend here:  YouTube and Google are owned by the same company.  So he decided to check his Gmail account, which he’s temporarily running on the web-based system instead of through email software (and while we’re on the subject, how is it that the Google people can be so damned smart yet develop such an awful tool for managing your gmail online?).  The site opened right away and there were his emails.  Just to be sure, he sent himself a test email:  it worked.

This smacked of conspiracy – a feeling reinforced from the next room when his wife called out that Facebook worked, too.

What was going on?

Was this someone trying to demonstrate what the internet experience might be like if net neutrality ended and the big guys controlled access in ways they don’t already?  Or was there another explanation that didn’t involve The Curmudgeon’s service?

It’s amazing how many people take the time to create and doctor images to express their love for Comcast

The next morning everything was the same so he called Comcast, they “sent him a signal,” whatever that means, and a few minutes later his full internet access was restored.

But the whole thing was a mystery:  how could some aspects of his internet access work and not others?

On one hand he’s curious but on the other he doesn’t care:  he just can’t wait until the home renovations are done and he can get back to his Verizon FIOS life.  It took moving away from Comcast to learn that, in addition to its dubious customer service

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  • By The Divorce is Final | The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon on October 8, 2017 at 6:08 am

    […] unfulfilled promises, indifference, and the occasional angry word; for a few personal examples go here, here, and here. In the end, like most prisoners of a bad marriage, The Curmudgeon escaped at the […]

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