[freetds] OT: a DSL story
James K. Lowden
jklowden at schemamania.org
Mon Oct 11 02:09:49 EDT 2004
I've been kinda quiet these past few months, and no doubt some people are
glad for that. This message is meant to entertain. I hope you'll indulge
I moved in August (same city, different street). I was eight years in the
old place, and the process of finding and buying the new one, then
preparing it, and moving and unpacking took awhile. The spare time
function kept returning EPROCLIM.
Then there was Verizon, oh boy. I wanted dedicated DSL on a separate
copper pair, which is offered in these parts by Speakeasy, using Covad as
the telecom provider. Covad, of course, doesn't own any copper; they rent
it from Verizon. It took a few tries before Verizon and I were at the
same address on the same day when their man showed up. Then the fun
When we went to the basement of my new building, he found no spare pairs
running back to the central office. Now, in your head, you may have an
impression of the telephone network as a neat star pattern, with every
building's pairs going out to the street, and thence back to the central
office. You may wish to free yourself now of that vision, because it
ain't so, at least not here. Here, my basement's phone block is bridged
to a building down the street, and from there to a lot next door. This
lot is 5 feet wide and 100 feet deep, with a gate on the front. From the
gate, you can see several green outdoor chests of telephone equipment.
Just inside the gate, there's a little box, easily reachable, lockable but
open. Once upon a time, it was locked, and Verizon (probably then known
as New York Telephone) had a key to it. The technician would unlock the
box, and find therein a key to the gate, known as a "keeper" key . He'd
unlock the gate with the keeper and go to work. That was then.
Some few years ago, this lot was sold to a man who it seems hopes that one
day it will be combined with one of the adjacent lots when a taller
building becomes economically desirable. Meantime, he removed the keeper
key, and is battling with Verizon, demanding rent for access to their
equipment. You may doubt his legal standing, as do I, but there it is.
For now, he who wants a new pair must find a way around that gate. It is
reachable though the bedroom window of one of the apartments next door,
but that of course relies on the good graces of the tenant. The story I
heard is that not long ago Verizon had need to access the lot 5 times in
one day, and permission has not been granted since, from that day to
Whether or not every detail in the story is true, Verizon failed after
several attempts over a two-month period to provide Covad with a pair.
Covad's logs state there were "access problems". Escalation brought
nothing. A direct complaint to Verizon elicited this:
customer.service at verizon.com wrote:
> Re: Comment on a recent service experience [#10877245]
> You are switching to Covad which has been denied access to your building
> as the owner demands a fee. The Covad technician state he has escalated
> this to Verizon's Right-Of-Way department but cannot confirm access has
> been arranged. You requested our assistance.
> We would be happy to assist you with that, however at this point all
> arrangements with Verizon must be made by your new provider. Please
> contact Covad directly for an update.
> Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.
They mangled the facts, but they couldn't mask the snarkiness. Since
Verizon owns *all* the wire, they're going to get my business one way or
another. They're obliged to rent it to Covad, but they're obviously not
troubled by timeliess or convenience.
Remember Laugh-In, when Lily Tomlin's Ernestine as an Operator for ol' Ma
Bell told Richard Nixon, "We're the phone company, Mr. Milhouse. We don't
care because we don't have to."? Plus ca change.
Maybe the best advice I got for dealing with this issue involved a chain,
a bumper, a car, and a dark rainy night. After all, how securely can that
gate be afixed to its post? But, you know, it's only software, and it's
Verizon's equipment, not mine. I don't think business is a good basis for
violence, or vice-versa.
Eventually I relented. I ordered line-shared DSL, piggy-backing DSL on my
voice line, using filters like everyone else. That went quickly and
easily, and schemamania.org came back online on Thursday.
Thus endeth the tale. Hope you enjoyed it.
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