RT Cunningham


Me and My DSL - I’m Not Your Average DSL Subscriber

DSL filter For more than two weeks, I’ve had more issues with my PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company) digital subscriber line (DSL) service than anyone should have to put up with. The trouble started on March 29. Actually, I think it started before that, but I can’t remember the specific day when I didn’t have a dial tone until the next day. The situation still isn’t resolved and it won’t be until I can go through a 24-hour period without having to reset my DSL modem. The most irritating aspects to all this is the customer service and the tech support. I’m not your average DSL subscriber and I absolutely hate being spoken to like I’m a child.

The DSL Issues

Most of the time, the DSL service from PLDT is excellent. I can only remember three days in the last nine years when I didn’t have a dial tone (four if you count the fast-busy from yesterday). I can only remember one other time when my DSL service was really bad and it was in 2007. They had telephone technicians, without any experience with DSL at all, trying to fix my DSL problem. It was a line problem on their end and today’s issue is likely to be the same.

On some day before March 29, I went for a 24-hour period without a dial tone. I called it in when I first noticed it and it took them 24 hours to get it going again. Their lack of a sense of urgency was more than irritating.

On March 29, a Sunday night, the DSL connection kept dropping and I had to cycle my modem over and over to get a connection that wouldn’t last more than a few minutes each time. I went to bed that night hoping the problem would be resolved by the time I got up the next morning. It wasn’t.

I called it in that morning and I was told it could take up to three days to get it fixed. Two days later, Wednesday morning, it seemed to be fixed. I only had to reset the modem twice a day until the following Monday morning, April 5.

That morning, I talked to a customer service representative (CSR) about it and I found out that nothing had been done with the earlier ticket. They sent a technician who replaced my DSL modem (actually an ADSL Wi-Fi modem) that day. Again, it seemed the situation was resolved. I only had to reset the modem once a day until yesterday.

Yesterday morning, at around 11:30 am, the signal disappeared. I recycled the modem and still nothing. I checked the phone and I was getting a fast-busy instead of a dial tone. I called it in on my mobile phone and I was told there was a major problem they were working on that affected several customers. They fixed it at some time just before 9 pm. My DSL signal returned, but only for about two hours.

I called this morning and had to go through contortions to get it reported properly with them.

Customer Support

PLDT customer support isn’t any better or any worse than any I’ve ever dealt with. They’re just annoying. It’s painfully obvious they have minimal training and are really good at filing trouble tickets. Their automated messages are more than annoying. They assume that most of their DSL subscribers are like children, with no idea what they’re doing.

PLDT has two three-digit numbers (speed-dial, I guess) for customer support, 171 and 172. 171 is for telephone line problems and 172 is for broadband problems. I called 172 this morning and then, after explaining it to the CSR, he told me I had to talk to the other department to close my earlier ticket before his department could do anything. I did that and then called his department back. They opened a new ticket for “line testing”. It took me about an hour to get to that point and that’s where things stood until about 7 pm when my signal magically reappeared.

My Experience

When I talk to a CSR about Internet service issues, I have to bite my tongue and keep myself from going off on him or her. Most of the CSRs are half my age, without any real experience with anything other than talking to customers.

I’ve been doing things on the Internet since it first became available in the mid-1990s. I worked in the IT department of a telemarketing company for more than a year, working together with the network engineer, leaving that company in 2000. I know to check my connections and my devices before I call for support. I still go through the routines I’m asked to go through to placate the CSRs who ask me to do so. It’s always an exercise in futility.

Local Broadband Choices

In Olongapo, there are broadband choices. Unfortunately, the other choices aren’t any better than what I’ve already chosen. The wireless choices are decent, but only during the dry season. During the rainy season, hours can be spent without any signal at all. In my area, it’s worse than other areas because I only have one cell tower to work with.

I’m considering Click Broadband, which uses Colorview CATV as the carrier. I already have a cable subscription for television service. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about Click Broadband so I’ve avoided them so far.

Wireless LTE service is available in most parts of the city, but not where I am. The best I can get is 3G and it’s probably not worth the cost. I can get a “pocket Wi-Fi” and have wireless Internet during the dry season, but I’d have to hang the device out a window to get a good signal.

I envy the people I know who live in parts of the country where there aren’t rainy and dry seasons to speak of (Southern Mindanao). One guy uses LTE wireless exclusively and gets more than 20 megabits all the time. That’s more than four times faster than what I get and he pays less than I do.

Photo Attribution: By Lijorijo at Malayalam Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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By RT Cunningham
April 12, 2015