Gerardo Zamudio about Linux, open source, and Internet

The troubles of finding a decent ISP

By the end of September, I will have gone one year without having internet access at home. During this year, I’ve switched homes three times and switched jobs four times. I think I’m finally at a stable point in my life - at least stable enough to commit to a 1-year rental lease.

A while back I briefly [mentioned]( “ Questionable Content and Indie Girls”) that I finally got around to buying a desktop PC. Sure, everyone’s buying netbooks and those pad things but I know I’m not the only one that thinks the notebook is dead. Nothing beats a good ol’ desktop PC with a keyboard and mouse. I’m still planning on posting a brief overview of the computer specs and what it’s been like so far, don’t think I forgot.

Getting the computer was the first step. Living in an “emerging and developing” country makes it rather difficult to come by a reliable Internet Service Provider, so my choices were limited. I could’ve easily gone the easy way and signed up for Carlos Slim’s telephone/internet monopoly, Telmex. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, I hopped online and looked for some alternatives. The one I already had in mind was Cablevision, a newcomer to online services in the area. They offer a 2MB download speed through cable (6MB in some areas). Unfortunately, when I called them they informed me their services were not available in my area because the infrastructure wasn’t fully developed. I did a bit more research and the only other ISP in my area was Axtel. They were quite friendly. I called them and the sales representative curteously gave me a rundown of all their bundles. I signed up for their 2MB DSL service with a landline that includes 200 local calls. Yes, there’s no such thing as unlimited of anything here. Yes, I did ask. I thought it was pretty good considering Telmex was giving me the same thing for $16.44USD more. They said there was a $15.66USD “contract fee” and if I payed it by 4:00pm that day, the installation people would be at my house in two days. These guys really want my business, don’t they? I took a quick break from work and walked over to the nearest bank to make the deposit. Sure enough, within two days there was Axtel at my front door ready to do all the cabling that was needed.

Here’s where it gets kind of disappointing. They fooled around a bit on the roof of my house and proceeded to inform me that they could not get a signal because the house is located near the bottom of a hill. I know the technicians are just outsourced contractors that don’t really work for Axtel, but they were nice about it. They said I should call and ask for my deposit back, which I did. The original sales representative was also thoughtful enough to give me his direct extension so I didn’t have to wait in the call queue for someone to pick up the phone. The guy informed me that I would have to wait 5 business days for the refund to go through and that I would have to go to one of their offices and pick it up myself. That part was not pleasant considering the fact that the next three days were holidays, plus the weekend. I’d have to wait 11 regular days for my refund.

The next day I gave in and called Telmex. I gave them my address and they said they could not find my interior number in their system, which meant I would have to go to a Telmex office and order it in person. They were not open to suggestions, either. I asked if I could just put down my neighbor’s interior number, they said no. I asked if they could send the technicians to the house and I’d show them which was the correct one, and they said no. After all, they’ve got 80% of the country in their back pocket. It’s not like they need my business. I had to ignore all this and just show up in person. The lady at the counter hardly even looked at me and spoke so fast I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I must have done something right, though, because she informed me a technician would be at my home within 8 business days.

I’m (reluctantly) happy to say that today in the morning a Telmex technician showed up and took no more than 20 minutes to set up the phone line. I don’t own a house phone so I couldn’t verify if there was dial tone, but he said it should work just fine. I’ve also been told I can go pick up my modem from the Telmex office I ordered the service from. How fun.

I really wish I could have gone with Axtel. Minus the refund thing, they were pretty attentive whenever I spoke with them. I worked as a Technical Support Specialist for a major American ISP a few months ago and these people’s service is a thousand times better as far as I’m concerned. I’m really excited to get home today and set everything up. I’ll be posting soon about how that goes, hopefully from the comfort of my bedroom :)