TL;DR: After a decade of service, CenturyLink decided I wasn’t worth keeping as a customer, so I switched to Comcast Business Internet. Even if CenturyLink tells you that you have no data caps, you do.
When I first moved to Colorado nearly a decade ago, I signed up for Comcast’s Residential high-speed internet service, and I hated it. I had to reset my cable modem once every week because it would stop working properly, and my internet noticeably slowed down when people would get home from school/work in my apartment complex.
I did some research and determined that, for the kinds of internet speeds being offered at the time (around 1-5Mbps down), Qwest’s DSL had similar prices to Comcast. Additionally, because it was DSL, I could use my own Netgear router that had a DSL modem built in, and I wouldn’t have to mess with company equipment. Also, DSL’s speed varies based on your distance to a hub, not based on how many people are currently using it. I thought I could avoid both of my major problems by switching to DSL for about the same price, so I did, paying for the maximum possible speed at the time, 5Mbps.
For many years, Qwest was the only monthly bill I never had any trouble with. Sometimes my cable would go out or look pixelated, sometimes my heating bill would be surprisingly massive, I was always having annoying issues with my cell phone service, but month after month, I never even noticed I had Qwest. It was just there, it worked, it never went down, it never slowed down. It was great.
The good ol’ days.
As the years went by, Cable speeds seemed to be improving at a faster rate than DSL speeds. Nonetheless, I was happy with Qwest’s customer service and I had bad experiences with Cable, so I stuck to DSL. One day, I got a mailer that 10Mbps was now available in my area. I called Qwest that day and upgraded. A year or so later, another mailer came with 20Mbps as an offer, and I upgraded immediately. Each time the price difference was less than double for double the speed, so it seemed worth it. I use a lot of internet, and I still missed my University’s T3 line.
Eventually Qwest became CenturyLink after an acquisition/merge. I was a bit worried at first, I was happy with Qwest not only from a technical standpoint, but from a customer service standpoint. Would this change? I could always tell that Qwest representatives were especially friendly to me after they saw how long I’d been a customer, I feared I’d lose my “standing”. But, CenturyLink one day sent me a letter offering “fiber” internet, 40Mbps down, 5Mbps up. Upgrading bumped my price up to about $100 a month, which was a lot, but I really do use the everloving crap out of some internet, so I did it.
Many people on Twitter and Facebook asked me about internet providers, and I’d always talk up CenturyLink. Fast internet, good customer service, no downtime. And best of all, this was around the time that cable companies started introducing usage caps on their cable internet. I found this maddening for both philosophical and technical reasons, but CenturyLink had no such caps, so I’d often argue it was a better choice for heavy internet users like myself. I know that I influenced a handful of people to get CenturyLink, or even in a few cases to switch to CenturyLink off Comcast.
The First Warning
In February of this past year, I was at work and decided I wanted something off my computer at home. I tried to SSH into my workstation at home but was unable to connect. This was strange. Like I said earlier, CenturyLink never went down, so it made no sense to me. Thinking maybe my workstation had crashed or died, I tried connecting to my home VPN, and that didn’t work either. There are a few services I run on various machines that sync with centralized servers, such as Subsonic and Plex, so I tried connecting to them, only to discover they too had lost connectivity to my home. I even tried pulling up my Nest, and saw that even that had lost connectivity to the outside world.
Here’s how much confidence I had in CenturyLink: I actually thought the power must be out. I went home at the end of the day, fully expecting to walk into a cold house that had been without power for a portion of the day, and assuming I’d have to go around resetting clocks and booting up computers. But to my surprise, the house was fine. All the clocks had the right time on them, the power had never gone out. It was an internet problem.
I sat down at a computer and opened up a web browser. Instead of my home page, I got this:
No ‘Net For You!
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