Since I live in a city that has been described as the ‘Silicon Valley of Europe’ it means that we get access to a lot of technological advancements very early. It also means that we get construction sites all over all the time, but that's a rant for another time. This time I'll focus on the ‘fibre revolution’, or at least the journey I've had to undergo to participate in it.
Part of a major infrastructure overhaul plan in Zürich is to get everyone in the city access to the optical fibre network, which would allow massively improved internet speeds, amongst other things. The company that is responsible for constructing these fibre cables and putting up the small access boxes in everyone's home is our local power company, EWZ. And this is where the problems start.
EWZ got to our region sometime last year and laid out all the cables. After they were done we contacted our ISP and asked them if it was possible to upgrade. They replied that no, we were not hooked up. We didn't do anything for a while then until at some point I got fed up with our absolutely horrendous upload rate and decided to investigate for myself again. EWZ have a website that allows you to check if your address is already ready, in progress or not. Ours was listed as ‘not ready’, except for one of our neighbours, which was highlighted green. So I decided to write them an e-mail.
After a week of hearing nothing, I got a reply saying that it was an error in their system and they corrected it now to list us correctly. Great! So we would've had the possibility of fibre for many months, but nobody knew or cared. Alright, so at least that was cleared up. I then researched a bit into which provider would be suitable since there were a bunch for fibre. We still decided on Sunrise, our previous ISP, since that made the cheapest offer and upgrading shouldn't be a problem, right?
However, during investigation I found out that we needed a specific number that was supposed to be written on the fibre box in our home. We had no such box. Calling up customer support revealed that the owner of the building (that's us) should have signed a contract with EWZ at some point. We had no idea about this. So we asked EWZ again and they replied that no, we already signed that contract long ago and that was for installing the cable, not the box. The box would be installed once they got the order from an ISP. They would then send out their own technicians to install the box. At this point I was curious about cost. Some ISPs seemed to demand payment for these electricians, others did not. After more meddling about we found that for Sunrise customers it was apparently supposedly free. Great.
Alright, so now we went to the local shop to get everything rolling. We couldn't do it online because their site had just undergone an overhaul that day and wouldn't let us place the order. Once there the lady at the desk said she couldn't do anything either since their internet access there was temporarily down. Super!
So we went again the day after. This time we were able to get the contract done. The clerk at the desk wanted to know our fibre box number again which we still didn't have, so he had to ask his manager to confirm that the box would only be installed after the order. This was the third time we had to have a Sunrise employee ask their superior about it. It already smelled like really good communication everywhere.
Once the contract was done we received about five phone calls from differing people (one of whom asked about the fibre box number) talking to us about this again until we finally had someone from EWZ call us up to make a date for the technicians to install the box. From what things looked like back then we would have fibre within about a month. Alright. Kind of slow, but I guess acceptable if they have their hands full with installations and everything. The technicians for the box were actually a different company and not EWZ themselves, which made it even stranger that they couldn't come sooner. But regardless.
Once the technicians came they had to work around for a morning until the box was installed, everything was great, now we could call Sunrise to tell them it was ready. After doing that, Sunrise would have to call EWZ again for some reason to tell them to hook up the line. EWZ would then have to call Sunrise back to let them do their thing. What a complete mess. The deadline they gave us for the switch then was the 12.8, which is more than a month after we signed the original contract. That wasn't very encouraging. Why would it take them weeks to flick some switches to activate the lines?
Then nothing happened for a while until on the 28th of July in the morning suddenly my internet connection got cut off. Of course I guessed it was just another short outage like so many others before and I went to reset the router. To my surprise though I found that the DSL light would not light up at all. So I called our land line number. It was ‘out of service’.
I then heard news from my father that he had gotten a text and it should have been switched now. Nice that it was before the date they told us about and even better that it came without any warning. So I then tried to set it up, but to no avail. The router would not connect at all, regardless of how I tried to plug the fibre in or the LAN cable into the distributor box EWZ installed. I tried looking at the manual they had shipped with the new router (which is a router we do not own by the way, we can only ‘rent’ it from our ISP), but it didn't mention a single word about fibre. So I called tech support.
The guy on the phone first told me to reset the router, which had no effect. After asking me about the number of active lights on the router he then guessed that maybe EWZ would only activate our line at midnight, since that was usually when things would happen. So I waited until Tuesday, but still nothing. So I called again. This time the lady on the phone said the she could not redirect me to tech support, I would have to call the regular support hotline. Annoying, but alright. The next lady on the phone then had to hurry over to their superiors again and said that she would give the fibre department my number and they should call me back, or otherwise the old DSL line would be back up within two hours.
Neither of those things happened. So on day three without land line or net, we called again and this time we got someone who couldn't even understand German properly. We hung up angrily. I can't recall if I called on Thursday, I might have been too tired and fed up that day. Friday was a national holiday to celebrate how great our country is and all that, but I wasn't feeling particularly festive with all the things going on. So I had to wait until Monday since there wasn't anything going on on holidays or weekends.
After a week without land-line or net I was quite mad. Screaming on the telephone seems to work wonders sometimes. Now they asked us if a technician from yet another company had come by to set things up. This was the first time we heard of anything about that. They promised to have one call us back on the same day to arrange a date. At 18:10, after business hours, I got a call from one and settled a date on Wednesday. Another two days without net, but at least something!
The next day I got a call from the same company again. They told me they had gotten the order from Sunrise only today and they had no knowledge or record of the phone call of the previous day. Very mysterious indeed. This time we settled on Friday. Not good, but.. what can you do. A few minutes later they called back again and told us that just this moment Sunrise had communicated to them that the line would only be put up on the 12th (as was told to us so long ago) so they'd have to move the date to the 13th. Wow.
At this point I did not have much patience left in my heart so I called Sunrise tech support again so I could at least scream at someone for a while and hopefully that would change things. I am very sorry to the poor Miss that had to listen to my shouting, but she managed to get it through to the fibre department and those guys then called the technician company again, which in turn called me again and we were finally able to settle on an employee coming by the next day, as was initially settled on Monday already. Great.
So today this technician came by. He looked at the router, unplugged the LAN cable from the router's input/DSL and plugged it into LAN1, one of the four output slots. And voilà, it connected.
What a load of horseshit. I could have done that. But of course I wouldn't try the most asinine and backwards possibility of them all. And none of the six or more tech support people thought of this either. So the reason why I've been sitting around without land line or internet for more than a week is because of the most unbelievable string of incompetence I've ever encountered. The manual they shipped with the router contained no mention of fibre, the router itself is constructed in a completely bogus way, none of the tech support actually know about fibre and always have to ask their superiors about it, nor do any of them apparently know the manuals as they never even came as close as to asking me how I hooked the thing up. Then the whole chain of command and communication between departments in the company and between the different companies seems completely broken, we were asked about things again and again and often times stuff just got completely lost in transit.
I haven't even mentioned half of the annoying titbits that have happened throughout this and I don't think I even want to recall all of it. I will note though that all of those support calls (of which you always spend at least ten minutes listening to annoying pop music) were promptly billed as well as our net/tel/tv access for the first week. Though we'll see that we can get them to, in the very least, revert the billing on that.
Now I'm sitting here with more than a week's worth of internet backlog to catch up on and with an internet access that seems to at best get 70mbps up and down, rather than the full 100 we should be getting. But maybe that's the speed test not working properly. Hopefully it is. I'm just too tired and sick of all of this to want to bother with it for a while.
I direly wish that I can now at least finally use our connection to stream in somewhat respectable quality and that we won't have constant connection dropouts as we did before. Maybe once I feel more like it I'll start doing regular art streams.
Whatever the case, the future is not as bright and happy as one might come to expect. With all of these communication issues we've had, I don't know if anyone's ready yet. There needs to be a lot done still before fibre can reach mainstream. Hopefully it's going up from here.
Written by shinmera