Saturday, May 24, 2014

OK, we're officially addicted to broadband

Yesterday morning, I woke up to discover the FiOS was out. No dial-tone on the phones, no TV and no internet. I phoned up customer service (fortunately, we had cell phones!) and reported the problem. A tech came out to fix it today.

We went a day and a half without any connectivity and let me tell you, it sucked big-time. Some of the things we were unable to do without this:

  • Jen was not able to do her college coursework (it's all on-line these days.)
  • It was very difficult to manage household finances. (I needed to use a smartphone to check balances and could not pay any bills.)
  • People calling us were all shunted to voice-mail, which I had to check via the mobile phone
  • No TV whatsoever. Our DVR (leased from Verizon) won't boot up without network connectivity, so no recorded programs. Netflix obviously doesn't work without the internet either. We could play DVDs, but nothing else.
  • Although I was on vacation that day, I planned on periodically checking my work e-mail. I had to do this using my phone. Let me say that sending a significant-size e-mail reply using a phone is a real pain in the neck
  • No computer games. I have a few games loaded onto my hard drive, but they're all pretty old. Every game I play today is hosted on a web page somewhere.

Fortunately, it was an easy repair. The power supply for the ONT (the optical network terminal on the side of the house that terminates the fiber connection) had died. The tech replaced it in about 30 minutes and all was well, but I was unpleasantly surprised to discover how much our lives depend on high-speed internet these days.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot that can be done about it. Jen's college work and my financial activity simply can't be done without internet access. And her school work requires a high-speed connection because it involves multimedia and VoIP conference calls. And needless to say, telecommuting is out of the question without high-speed access (VPNs are painful and our corporate VoIP phone system is impossible on a slow connection.)

I suppose we could ditch the VZ-supplied DVR and go with a TiVo, which would boot up without internet access and allow us to play stored content, and we could use it (with an antenna) to get over-the-air broadcasts of local channels. I may have to think about this some more. And I think I need to get some good games loaded onto my Mac's hard drive!

On the other hand, it gave me plenty of time to catch up on my reading.


Drew said...

Couldn't you use your cell phone as a wi-fi hotspot? Data's expensive but at least Jen could do her coursework, you could use your computer to manage finances, you could watch Netflix, you could check your work email, and you could play your computer games. Doesn't solve all of your problems but crosses about half of them off.

JamesQMurphy said...

Not sure what your data plan is like, but using a cell phone as a hot-spot can chew through usage. We did this once, before I had Optimum installed at the new house. My son watched YouTube videos for a couple of hours and racked up 500MB of data usage, which at the time was 25% of my monthly allotment. Might be okay for e-mail or bank finances, but I wouldn't recommend it for streaming unless it was absolutely necessary (like Jen's Coursework).

I do agree that I rely on Internet access heavily. I also try to unplug every once in a while.. yardwork is good for that :)