Saga of the DSL connection

For about six weeks I enjoyed my new high speed dsl connection to the Internet.

Dsl, or digital subscriber line, is a broadband Internet connection supplied through telephone company wires. Other means of obtaining high speed or broadband Internet connections are available from cable companies or newer satellite dishes.

The advantage of broadband is that getting information from the Internet is so much faster. In my six weeks I was able to get my email or view web pages about nine times faster than my old dial up connection. I was a relatively happy camper.

This all stopped on March 3. The little light on my dsl modem changed from green to orange. It had lost the dsl connection. I no longer could access the Internet. Fortunately I was able to reestablish a connection using my computer's modem and the old slow but sure dial up system.

Then started the odyssey of trying to find out what happened. For the next week I spoke with a number of Earthlink technical service representatives. None could figure out what happened. They knew I no longer was connected to dsl, but they couldn't figure why. Finally I spoke with Tony of Earthlink, and he ran a line check. This determines how far I am from the telephone company central office. Low and behold, my line measured 24,000 feet; too far for dsl to work. Originally it was 16,000 feet, just within the limit. He concluded that Pacific Bell/SBC, the local telephone company, had added 8,000 feet to my line, knocking me out of service.

Without getting into the details of dsl, Tony told me that Earthlink could change my connection from Covad, their original supplier, to SBC. Covad is part of a complex financial leasing arrangement between Earthlink, my Internet service provider, and the local telephone company that supplies the connection from the central office to my home. SBC could also supply Earthlink with my dsl connection.

SBC also happens to own the local telephone company and has been upgrading their circuits and now has what is called a remote terminal in my vicinity. The new remote terminal is connected to the telephone company central office by means of a very high speed fiber optic cable. In my case, my home is only 3,000 feet from a remote terminal on Holt Avenue.

Barry of SBC called on March 24, to tell me that he was in the area "conditioning" my telephone line. In 20 minutes I should be back with a dsl connection. Twenty minutes passed and the little light still was orange. No connection. Barry came over and checked my line. All was just fine, but still no connection.

Another call to Earthlink and a long conversation where they tried to tell me that it was me that had the problem. Finally the tech service rep checked with her supervisor and found that Earthlink had not yet set up my connection. Another two minute wait and finally the light turned green.

It still is green and I am enjoying a blazing dsl Internet connection because now I am only 3,000 feet from the remote terminal. Data comes down from the Internet at over 1,000 kilobits per second, 25 times faster than my old dial up connection and three times as fast as my original dsl connection. I am a very happy camper but still keep my fingers crossed that the service will continue.

After this experience I can only conclude that dsl service from the telephone companies is not ready for prime time. Their marketing departments are pushing hard for subscribers but they seem insensitive to their dsl customers once they are connected. Someone added 8,000 feet to my line without considering that I was a dsl customer and knocked me out of service.

High speed Internet is a great tool. Data is fast and downloads of music, video or other Internet services now becomes reasonable. However, if you are contemplating a high speed connection, I would explore other services than dsl until the telephone companies get their acts together.

If you would like to hear more about high speed Internet and troubleshooting, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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