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ADSL self installation


A short while ago, my dad and I decided that the time had come to upgrade to an ADSL connection at home. The price of dial up, along with the performance, was getting harder and harder to swallow every month. Unfortunately, here in South Africa, dial up is often the cheapest solution many consumers see, and for that purpose, many people still use it. The internet is no longer optimised for dial up, with many sites featuring rich Flash content, or other dymanic content, commonly called “Web 2.0”

We decided to go with the incumbent telecoms operator, Telkom, as it would lead to ease of use when paying the bill. The promising competitor to Telkom, Neotel, is still struggling to expand coverage across the country and were not worth waiting for any more. While I detest Telkom, we really didn’t have much other choice. Wireless ISP’s are available, but there are far too many horror stories out there, and as such, they were not worth looking into. 3G connectivity is also not an option, due to it’s fairly high price on the larger bundles, as well as some bad latency issues.

3 days after we applied at a Telkom Direct shop, we got a call saying that our line had been upgraded to ADSL ready, and that we could collect our router and package at the shop. For some reason, our phone line had been dead for almost 2 days before that call, probably due to the switchover giving issues. We proceeded to go to the shop and get the bundle. To my suprise, the router we were given was not the Billion model I had asked about, but was instead one of the Telkom Mega 105WR routers, a sort of home made brand. Despite asking, we couldn’t get the Billion router. One bad experience under the belt already.

Got home after that, and I started to wire everything up. Not too hard, as instructions are pretty clear. Unfortunaltely, that’s when the horrors started. The line didn’t want to constantly stay up, so I was unable to even use the guest account to validate our ADSL line. When I did eventually get there, the page kept timing out. That left calling the help line, a line notorious for being slow to answer calls.

I didn’t have to wait too long, and eventually got helped by someone who verified some details. About 25 minutes after the call, the line dropped and came back up, at the correct sync speed for our package. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very stable, with the internet light on the router often just dying. The DSL light also had a mind of it’s own. By now, frustration was growing worse. I had been told by the person who verified our line that we would need to have our ISP details changed for broadband, which led to more confusion when I made another phone call to get this changed. A helpful person tried to get our line going, but it just wouldn’t work. Eventually I thanked her and hung up, and decided to take a break.

A few hours later, with increasing pressure from my parents, I called the help line again, this time to report a fault. A nice gentleman deleted our config on his side, and we went through a number of steps, but the router still didn’t seem to want to work. At the end of the call, he said that we should take it in and have it checked out in the shop, as it may have been faulty. I left the device on, just to let it run over night. By this time we were all ready to just give up and go sleep.

Amazingly, just before we did, the adsl light along with the internet light lit up. Connection was there, and stable. I guessed that whatever the person at the helpdesk did, it may have taken some time to filter through to the port in the ADSL exchange. I entered our ISP details, and just like that I was off surfing. I sat there with a somewhat irritated feeling.

I had chosen to do self installation, as it saved time and a big amount of money. I have heard that some self installs go like this, others worse, others dead easy. Things have come a long way from the early days, but the self install process still seems a bit too technical for the average user. It’s too long winded and prone to causing breaks in the chain if you don’t follow everything exactly.

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  1. April 5, 2009 at 17:41

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