[Update 11/22/2021: After about 3 days without an internet connection I finally got hooked back up. Before coming out, Comcast reiterated that we most likely would be charged for the repair, but when the technician showed up they not only did not charge us but gave us a $10 credit. Not much recompense for 3 days without the internet for a business that relies on it, but it was better than nothing.
Although multiple homes experienced outages, Comcast did NOT repair them all at once, even though that would have made the most sense. Each customer had to schedule a separate appointment.
On the topic of Comcast not having an automated system to tell them about outages (see interesting point #1 below), this point was reinforced by other customers who explained going through the same process, that of Comcast relying on customers to tell them if their service was out and conduct tests to prove it although a couple of hundred feet of severed cable was hanging from poles and lying in the street. In fact, the technician who showed up said to me, "do you have our service" and then "do you have an outage?" Apparently, whoever set up my repair, also set it up for the wrong home.
To those who say I had other options, I have looked into it and my neighborhood does not. For example, PogoZone told me years ago that they cannot provide service here because of tree cover. CenturyLink provides such piss-poor service we cannot use it to get our work done while wireless options, like the Verizon/T-Mobile hotspots the libraries and schools provide , work very poorly in my neighborhood as in many places in Bellingham/Whatcom County. They are also the most expensive option per Mbit.
One last point about Dig Once and going underground. The technician also recommended that we do something about the squirrels since they sometimes chew on the cables . Yes, I agree with him, since we live in a high wind area and need fiber, we should establish a Dig Once policy that mandates burying cables underground. This policy should also cover installing electric car chargers along with fiber.]
At about four yesterday morning, I woke to the sound of an 18-wheeler backing up my street. I fell asleep and woke later to discover that 18 wheeler had snagged, cut, and dragged a Comcast coax cable about 200 feet along the street. Most likely this cable was not installed by Comcast to the WAC 468-34-290 standard, making this incident entirely Comcast’s fault. This problem exists with many cables around town as Comcast does a poor job of maintaining their infrastructure and has adopted a “wait and see attitude” toward maintenance. This of course resulted in an outage. The mistake my wife and I made was being hardworking people who get up early, making us the first to call Comcast. This revealed several interesting things about Comcast.
- They couldn’t tell the internet was out. That’s how old and outdated their systems are in my neighborhood.
- They can’t, or don’t, communicate with each other. One of my neighbors called them a bit later and the tech told him to unplug his cable modem and plug it back in. (Refer to “Interesting Thing #1).
- But the worst thing we found out was that even when the damage was clearly not our fault, and was caused by another entity on the street, Comcast is trying to charge us for the repair, in this case, several hundred dollars. They haven’t given us an official estimate yet.
This article comes at a time when Bellingham Public Works Director Eric Johnston, and more than half of the pro big-telecom Broadband Advisory Group are up to their old tricks and games to protect big telecom. Recently they launched a heavily biased broadband study that I’ll be writing about in a separate article. They have done this in the past to protect Comcast TV services and justify molly-coddling CenturyLink for their obviously failed, and poor quality, PRISM TV service.
So it’s not just the bad pricing, the unreliable service, the terrible customer service, and the attacks on the First Amendment, Comcast will also try to make you pay to repair their equipment when the problem is obviously on their side and affects multiple customers. You just have to be dumb enough to report your outage first, oh, and be a Comcast customer in the first place.
Eric Johnson and the BAG’s response to the quality of Comcast service? Well, Eric has allowed Comcast to threaten BAG members during meetings when Comcast tries to make it clear they believe they own our town and will tell us what, if anything, will happen in our rights-of-way. Eric’s attitude has always been that our service is amazing and we don’t know how good we have it.
While I’m sending this from a mobile device, waiting until Comcast decides to come out and move a cable that is a hazard to many children in our neighborhood and blocking my business, I should note that we will have to reschedule all of our Zoom students today and may lose up to $300 in student fees. In Anacortes, $300 would get me 3 Gigs of service because underground public fiber network is only $100 to connect to and $70 a month for Gigabit service. My $100 a month Comcast service RRUL load tests at about 25 Mbits down and 3 up, but obsolete DSL is my only other option and not adequate for the needs of anyone who needs Zoom to run a business.
Comcast has a monopoly. Which is one of many reasons they think they can get away with extortion. But they’ll never treat Eric Johnston and the power elite in our government this way, so those guys think there isn’t a problem or simply don’t care.
I will say one last thing on government in general. The establishment, instead of doing the right thing, always tries to cancel citizens like me who hold them accountable. They try to say that we’re too mean to them or we’d catch more flies with honey. But the truth is that we’ve tried to work with them many times. Over five years ago, when we first approached City Hall about using our existing public fiber optic network, we offered to expand the network and help low-income individuals get connected to it for free. During the pandemic we offered the same thing via inexpensive external wireless access points and more. The schools and City Hall both found ways to make sure it didn’t happen. In the meantime they all opted to spend millions on very expensive, virtually worthless, big-telecom solutions instead.
So how about this? How about if the establishment doesn’t want citizens legitimately holding them accountable, they try doing things that actually improve the lives of their citizens, not just the corporate ones, for a change. In the end, what the establishment is finding out is that you can’t cancel the truth.
Until they figure this out, I think I’m going to withhold my praise for his majesty Fleetwood and his court of spineless corporate drones.
Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Washington State Free Press.