Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Oh Bangalore- Up Yours!

I HATE Tech Support!
It used to be that you could impress upon the technician at the other end of the line that you need EXPERT assistance- and they would hand the call over to a supervisor, but since most major companies have moved their "Tech Support" operations to Mumbai or Bangalore,
that option is down the toilet!

This post is for all the unfortunate souls that have DSL service with Verizon Online.

Now, I realize that most people will take the Bangalore statement all wrong so let me clarify my position. Yes, maybe it is a bit difficult to understand the Indian accent, but if you are patient you can manage- so that is not my issue. Indian people are very nice, and I enjoy their company and culture. I do not dislike Indian people at all!

What I dislike is the fact that these people on the other end of the phone are completely at a loss as to how network technology- or computers for that matter- work! This is not their fault, India has a very low number of citizens that have internet access... probably very few that even own computers. In 2007 less than 4% of the population had internet access, and less than 200K had broadband as of 2004. The Indian GNP does not make for a lot of disposable cash to set up home-based LANs in India. That said, I imagine that those who do have the funds are not working in penny-ante jobs as tech support operators. Suffice it to say, that those jobs are populated buy persons able to read a script- deviate from the script and they are lost!

Now, on to what got me going in the first place:

I am a prisoner of Verizon DSL. If you are in the same boat, and you have been struggling with a lousey connection thru an Actiontec GT704WG Modem/router- I FEEL YOUR PAIN!

The real problem is that the modem and the wireless seem to- on a regular basis- duke it out in some internal struggle for dominance. If you have ever experienced life with a schitzophrenic- it is not unlike that. This internal battle makes for dropped connections and frustrated users! We were resetting the modem 3-4 times a week!
My kid got kicked while playing WOW on a fairly regular basis and was extremely pissed to the point of nearly smashing the
GT704WG with a hammer. Though I don't love WOW, I do expect my service- which I pay good money for- to be reliable!

I called Verizon several times last year to see about solving this problem, never getting anywhere with the tech support- (see above). I was informed that I own this Pc o' S'ht modem, and if I wanted to get a new one they would send me one for about about 100 bucks. Now why would I want another one of these things? I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I went down to Fry's and purchased a DSL Modem made by D-Link, model DSL-2320B for those of you making note. This DSL modem requires a router in order to distribute internet access to your home LAN. If you have only one computer accessing the internet no router is needed. I already had a Linksys router, but it has no wireless capability, so I also purchased a D-link wireless N router, model DIR-615. Wireless N is an upgraded technology from the older wireless G of a few years back.

A modem is a modem is a modem- right? that was my thinking. You plug in the settings and you're good to go. So I plugged the modem in to my kid's PC, so I could use the set-up CD that came with the modem. I set up everything as best I could, called Verizon TS-India and asked for appropriate settings. Ruh-Roh! It would not connect, so they referred me to D-link for further assistance, informing me that I am a DHCP client not a PPP client.

After a call to D-link TS- India, informing them of my plight and DHCP account issues, they walked me thru a setup that was identical to the setup I already had. Still no connection. They referred me back to
Verizon telling me it was a server issue... 3 1/2 hours gone and still no internet connection. I finally had a D-link TS-India operator inform me that the DSL-2320B modem was a PPP modem and could not be configured for DHCP client access. MAN was I P-Oed when she told me THAT!

I boxed up the stuff to return to Fry's and left it on my desk overnight.
Perhaps I hoped that the internet brownies would come and set it up for me- I dunno. Next day I fired off an angry email to D-link and called them "assholes"*.
Looking at the stack of boxes, I felt unsatisfied with the previous day of wasted effort. When I feel this way I often go to Google for consolation- and so I did again.

According to several disparate posts across the web I found that many people were dissatisfied with the Verizon DSL service using the
GT704WG modem. Some had been given advice by knowledgeable individuals, who did not need a script to provide technical assistance. After an few hours of combing posts and gathering information this is what I came up with:

1. GT704WG is a problematic modem, which can be made serviceable by reinstalling the OEM firmware and using it as a dumb modem in Invisible Bridge mode- negating its router capabilities and wireless access function. The Verizon-installed software that the modem arrives with does not allow this option. It is installed for one purpose- to make TS from a script possible.
2. Verizon DHCP access can be obtained by a new modem simply by turning off the
GT704WG for 2 hours thus allowing the DHCP lease to expire, then installing the new router using the "bridging" choice in the setup.

After gathering this info, I turned off the modem and let it sit for a couple hours. I then attached the D-Link DSL-2320B modem, ran through the Manual Setup on the CD- using the above info- and as the French say, Voila! Internet connection. After that I set up the Router behind the modem according to the D-link CD and everything is copasetic!

Two things to note of interest if of little value:

1. When I called Verizon the second time I chose the "Mac computer user" option in the call routing menu (I will not get on about the call routing as I have already ranted enough) and I was routed to an American voice which seemed much mote knowledgeable- but still could not help.
2. *Calling D-Link "assholes" in my email note caused their CSR to provide a direct phone number to a "Product Specialist Department" So it does exist- it's just a well concealed secret!

I have had the D-link modem installed for a week now. It has kicked off once for a single interval, other than that it has been fine. No more turning off the modem for 20 minutes, hard resets etc. I hope for the best in this modem, only time will tell.

A Shout Out to all the knowledgeable Network Admin's and Techies- willing to post tips to the numerous help-boards on the web- You guys & gals ROCK!

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