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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So a couple of coworkers, my wife, the guild leader, and I are about to the end of an instance in Warcraft last night. The guild leader sends the message “I’m almost to you guys” so he can come back and we can recover from our partial wipe.

And then nothing happens.

One of my coworkers call and says “my Internet just died.” I had assumed that, since the realm had been rebooted some four times yesterday, that it was just still further realm instability issues post-1.9; our server has been a disaster in that regard. But, no, my friend’s Internet was completely dead. I now looked at my cable modem and realized that it indicated the same thing, that the link was completely dead.

So, I called Cablevision/Optimum Online’s internet service folks and after navigating half a dozen irritatingly phrased menus, reached the recorded message that pretty much every town in Connecticut, along with some in PA, NJ, and NY, were undergoing planned maintenance and would be available in another 6 hours. In the meantime, no Internet services would be available.

I’ve dealt with planned maintenance before. We do it at work. We did it at my old job. Warcraft does it every Tuesday morning. The thing that all of these planned maintenances have in common is that all of the users know when it’s going to happen. Planned means that both sides of the service know when it’s going to go down, not just the system controllers. The scenario that Cablevision describes is not planned maintenance it’s a clusterfuck.

So I stayed on after the recorded message to wait for a live human being. A few minutes later, Rory answered the phone, and claimed no knowledge of what was going on (even better!). He had to look up a number of items, put me on hold, and then was able to return and inform me that this was planned maintenance, and everything should be back at 6AM.

No fucking kidding! It took him ten minutes to get me the same information as the recorded message.

In any event, I then asked why planned maintenance was being performed without any of the users being notified. Here’s where this story stops just being a rant and starts to get interesting, pay attention.

“Well, we never tell our users about planned maintenance. The thing is, that we have more than 2 million users. A lot of them rely on our service for both Internet and telephone, and if there was going to be a phone outage that they knew about, they would panic. People would be worried that if there was an emergency, they would not be able to make phone calls. Or, they would be worried that crimes of opportunity would take place because they could be done without worry of the residents being able to use the phone, or worse yet, their security systems, which may rely on our Internet connection, may not be able to notify the monitoring centers of a break-in.”

I was able to secure an account credit for a day’s lost service (big deal; like I care), and then at least tried to find a way to be notified of this in the future. He said he would get me the link from the website, and went quiet for a few minutes. Then he asked to put me on hold. I’d been on hold for quite a bit already, I was invested, so I was cool with that.

Several minutes later he returned, and said “Well, we have a website you can check your connection health, but that doesn’t help much if you have no Internet. We don’t actually have any web site to notify users of this sort of thing, for the reasons I mentioned below. Furhter, we can’t send out email or postal mail, or post to the website, because there is no guarantee that the users will actually read this information, and therefore it would be a waste. We have over 2 million users, and they can’t be relied on to receive our communications.”

I’m sorry, I just don’t even know what to say. This situation is completely absurd. I had my fair share of problems with DSL, but most were isolated technical issues. This is indicative of horrible mismanagement of the broadband business at Cablevision/Optimum Online. Apparently this is all part of their bandwidth upgrade push, but I have to be honest, I’d much rather reliability than a marketing blitz. This sort of behavior is unacceptable.