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September 21, 2017

Ten Hours Without Internet

Filed under: Main — Tags: , — admin @ 12:01 am

When I upgraded my Internet recently, I received a new modem. It was flakey, so I exchanged it. We’ve had good service since then and I’m quite pleased. Now when the modem goes from three happy lights to one sad and one blinking light, I know it’s the cable service and not the device to blame.

Figure 1 shows my cable modem in its happy state. The three lights are (left-to-right), Online, US/DS or upstream/downstream, and Power. When all three lights are solid, the signal is on and the Internet is present. Life is good.

Figure 1. My cable modem is happy.

About 11:00 AM last Thursday, only the Power light was solid. the US/DS light was blinking, meaning that the modem was looking for a signal and couldn’t find it. This was the state of the old modem when it went offline, which was about once every four hours.

So I did what any experienced cable modem user does: I turned if off and on again.

Nothing.

I phone up the cable company. They said there wasn’t an outage in my area and urged me to restart my modem and router. It’s a recorded message. Just to be safe, I restarted the modem and router.

Nothing.

I phoned up again and waited to speak with a tech. He said that they’d send someone over to look at the line.

My suspicions were roused because if my modem was offline and it’s a signal problem, odds are good the neighbors are off as well. Just then, neighbor Steve called and asked if my TV was gone. We don’t have TV, but the same wire carries both services. So I knew it was a bigger problem than my modem.

Sure enough, when I went on a walk — because the Internet was down and I had little else to do — I saw a bunch of cable company vehicles at a nearby construction site. According to my neighbor Ken, who lives across from the site, an excavator tore up a huge chunk of the cable line. When I phoned the cable company again, because obviously it wasn’t a problem with my modem, they finally admitted there was a wide-area outage.

Eventually the Internet was reconnected about 9:00 PM. During the down-time, I was surprised at how many things around the house depend on that constant Internet connection. My son especially was affected by the outage. None of his streaming shows were available on the tablet. The XBox couldn’t speak with the Microsoft mothership, so it was offline. I couldn’t play games on the computer because Steam wasn’t available to verify the game. I couldn’t work on Google Docs. As I told my boy, “Welcome to 2002!”

So we went out to eat, played pool, and chatted. It was fun! But once that signal came back, once again we suckled the electronic teat. It makes me wonder what would happen if the Internet was gone for days. Would people survive? Maybe they’d start reading books again.

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