Our ISP is Cox Communications here in Phoenix. Truth to tell, we don't have a lot of choices - it seems to be QWest or Cox or satellite. Satellite sucks for internet usage and QWest are DSL. There are probably dozens of dial up choices but who wants dial up if you can have better?
For the most part Cox have been ok as an ISP - relatively little down time and reasonably reliable though for some reason we seem to go through a cable modem a year. I could understand that if we were replacing them in mid-summer or during the lightning season but we're not. It seems to be a mid October to late November thing.
Thus to a few weeks ago when we started experiencing the usual (for this time of year) random slowdowns and outages. After three or so days we decided it was time for the annual cable modem purchase. Off to Frys, returning with yet another piece of disposable technology.
If you've ever been through this you know the drill; you can't just replace the modem and expect everything to work. Nope, you have to call em, recite a bunch of details such as modem serial number and MAC address and wait while they 'provision' the modem. Just why they call it provisioning is beyond me - I provided it, all they're doing is adding the MAC address to the 'allow' database so the system will function. Not a terribly painful process but it does take time. Presumably they deactivate the MAC address that used to be recorded against ones account so the old modem can't be used somewhere else on their network.
Which, of course, leaves a bit of a quandary when troubleshooting ones network. Once one has concluded that the problem lies either with the modem or the infrastructure at the other end of the cable one has to get them involved. Can't simply swap out the new modem and try the old one again. Worse, the people one has to deal with have 'scripts' to follow.
Obviously the cable modem replacement, this time around, didn't resolve the issue. Our connection can be great one moment and maddeningly slow the next. When investigating this I usually disconnect the modem from the router and run it direct to just one computer. If everything springs into life on that one computer I know it's us; if not it's them. If them then comes a long drawn out process of doing what they ask, no matter how inane. Little use to protest that I've already cycled power on the modem and rebooted the PC.
This time the problem looks for all the world like someone else on our cable segment has a DHCP server running on the WAN side; sometimes we cop a 192.168.x.x address when renewing the IP lease. My guess is someone has recently added a second computer and a router to their home network and they've plugged the cable modem into one of the downlink ports on the router instead of the uplink port. That would certainly explain why our lease renewals sometimes get a private network address. I'm pretty sure we can't solve this one without Cox assistance.
Today Sonya was getting toward the end of her tether with the internet connection. We'd already been on the phone with Cox yet again; this time I must have sounded knowledgeable because they forwarded us to their operations centre and they agreed that my theory sounded sound. They 'provisioned' the modem yet again and told us to call back if the problem continued. Which it did.
Sonya, fed up with slow connections, asked, 'How about Vern and Guy' (friends). 'Do they both have Cox?'
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Andrew slyly smiling, wondering if I was going to go for it. Was I? Does the pope wear a funny hat and expect not to be laughed at?
'Of course they do, my dear' I replied. 'That's why they're called blokes!'
Maybe you had to be there.