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John C. Dvorak’s Mothers Day Comcast Nightmare

There are a couple of salient points brought up by columnist John C. Dvorak in his latest piece entitled My Mothers Day Comcast Nightmare, where he recounts his issues with his Internet connection on Sunday:

I had tweeted this problem earlier on Twitter and found out that Comcast seems to have given up on its effective social media program, as Comcast Bonnie was no longer working there. She relied to me that “they got rid of me.” She was great at what she did, but I’ve seen this sort of thing before. A company has person doing great and important work, and it fires her because some bonehead at the company couldn’t monetize it. Apparently, it values bad PR instead like this. Accountants will eventually ruin all American business.

This is the tricky thing about “social media.”We know it’s good, but it’s hard to quantify exactly how good. When times get rough, it gets paired back or, in the cast of Comcast Bonnie, “eliminated.”

Unfortunately, human beings remember these bad experiences and use them as a basis to make decisions about which services to use in the future. Unfortunately, cable is the only real choice for most people so Comcast can pretty much take on the whole “we don’t care, we don’t have to” mentality on these things.

So I scheduled the service guy to come on Tuesday and just figure I’d limp along at analog modem speeds. In the process, I checked by email and saw a note from one of the editors of my blog, Sergio Gasparrini, who apparently listened to the podcast—from Europe—and suggested that Mother’s Day Skype calls may have been the culprit. I thought this was laughable until mid afternoon when my speeds began to increase by the hour.

By 9 p.m. on Sunday, the speed had ratcheted back up from 1 Mbps around 5 p.m. to 3 Mbps and then increased to 4 Mbps to 9 Mbps to 11 Mbps. It was like clockwork. As I write this, the system has been restored to full speed by itself.

This seems plausible, but only barely. Skype and other Voice over IP tools do not require a lot of bandwidth. It does require low latency, though. The only possible explanation here would be if there were a significant number of video calls–which require both high bandwidth and low latency.

In any case, this is definitely something I remember growing up on the Bell System. Mothers Day was always a big calling day. “All circuits are busy” messages were pretty common. What scares me is how quickly we all forget…


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Parent, Writer, Podcaster, Coffee Achiever, VoIP/Telco Curious, C-List Information Security Celebrity, and Mobile Phone Connoisseur residing in Gig Harbor WA US. Sometimes NSFW, always a 49ers fan.