I'm a Telstra NextG wireless broadband customer - by necessity - there are no other broadband suppliers in my area at all. Since the NextG service stared, 2 years or so ago, Testra has insisted that each customer has a separate account, a separate modem, and fixed the technology so that you could not use a router. This made the service hugely expensive. For a 1Gb/mo. download limit, Wifie and I paid $80 each (yes, each, plus $250 each for our modems). Then, a couple of weeks ago, Telstra announced that it would actually supply a router with the service so families could have a single account and share it - welcome to the 21st Century, Telstra!
Since Wifie and I also have a Telstra NextG mobile phone and a Telstra land-line (don't get me started on that!!) - as I said, Telstra is our only supplier out here - we decided that, with the router now available, we could bundle our services and save money. In fact, since we only needed one NextG broadband account, we could now get the absolute top-of-the-range package which has a 3Gb/mo download limit and costs a mere $109/mo.. So we ordered the router and set up the bundle. Rather than wire the house for ethernet, I also bought a wireless PCI card for my desktop machine (Wifie is a Mac user so already has bluetooth and WiFi as standard.)
Yesterday was the day when all the equipment arrived and we could plug it all together. (I won't dwell on Telstra's cock-up with the parcel delivery, or the online parts shop I first ordered the Wi-Fi card from which lied about the part's availability.)
It took seven hours work yesterday and another hour this morning to get it working. Now that may just be because we're both stupid (which we're not) or because we have non-standard equipment (which we don't) or because the network we were building is vastly complicated (which it isn't) or because I didn't have the necessary 25 years in the IT business needed to sort out the problems (oh, hang on a minute, I do have 25 years in the IT business).
The real reasons it took so long were:
- The Telstra router came with no instructions beyond saying you should follow the instructions in the software wizard on the accompanying CD. The wizard, of course, helps you cater with the simplest possible case then dumps you. Naturally, it has no trouble-shooting guidance for when things go wrong.
- Telstra's phone support covers only one computer attached to the router. To anyone except a marketing executive, this might seem ridiculous as the only point of having a router is to make a network consisting of multiple computers. Still, I suppose it saves Telstra money, so that's OK.
- The Telstra software was (as always) poorly designed and completely unhelpful. Still, it has nice graphics and zoomy logo things. As I ran through the set-up sequences over and over again, I couldn't help thinking that you can never have enough of seeing a company that is currently shafting you, advertise itself and its products over and over and over again, at the expense of your time and frayed nerves.
- The Telstra business systems that should have made all this easy, were a mess. (I spoke to four different branches of their software support group before I got the one that knew anything about doing an installation on a Macintosh - and I only got to them because I shouted at the poor guy in the third group and got him to take ownership of the problem of routing me to the right support group. Then it turned out that the sales group which set up our username and password had stuffed up and I had to be guided through a little secret technical magic to reprogram the router!)
- The fifth problem wasn't Telstra at all - which was a refreshing change. The software that came with my Chinese PCI card didn't work properly and came with no instructions whatsoever. Like all driver software, it is designed for propeller-headed geeks with nothing better to do than to learn hexadecimal codes and stick their noses close to hot chips. I tried the Wi-Fi card in three different PCI slots, reinstalling the driver each time I moved it, before I found one that it liked. Since I did most of this sitting on the floor, I had the additional joy of having my 4 month-old puppy, Bertie, slobbering excitedly in my ear and attempting to jump into the innards of my computer.
Except that all we get for all this effort and stress is a low-speed broadband service with a 3Gb download limit. Gee, thanks, Telstra.
When is Comcast coming to Australia?