John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.31.05
Fool's Hollow, Quebec


No cheers for Bell Canada, eh?

It's late January and I'm trying to stay focused and positive but, honest to God, I feel as if I'm being tested.

We live seven miles from the telephone exchange in Stanstead, Quebec. The Hovel is one of the terminal dwellings on both the 876 exchange line and the Hydro line.

Although the Boynton road continues past us, we are - effectively - at the end of the road.

For some months we have enjoyed connecting to the Internet at the unheard of - for us rural dwellers - speed of 44,000 kpbs. Sometimes even 45.2 Kbps.

Misterman, out here that's flying…

And then last week we saw a Bell Canada repair truck about a mile up the road, parked next to one of those brown metal tubes that stick up out of the ground.

The Bell repair guys were, as our neighbor up the road put it, "playing in the wires."

Oh, Jeebus, I say to the Silver Fox, you don't suppose…

Yes, Indeed. Our 'Net connection speed plummets to 26,400, 24,000, then as low as 21, 600 Kbps.

Back to RLS Internet - Real Lo Speed where your fingers do the crawling while your mind screams NOT AGAIN!

I call Bell and report the incident. Okay, it's an incident to me. To the guy at the Bell end of the line it's an incomprehensible.

But before I reach the guy, I get Emily. She's a software robot you have to go through before you get a human being.

I find myself answering Emily's robo-questions, then finally I snarl 'No' to everything and Emily hands me off to the real guy who is nice but not very knowledgeable.

"No, no," I explain, "It's not an Internet problem, it's a telephone line problem. Your guys have done something to the wire connections up the road, n'est ce pas?"

He promises to relay the message. And sure enough, on Saturday, a repair guy calls.

He checks the new box up the road. He says there is nothing wrong. He checks the connection at the Hovel. He says there is nothing wrong. He checks the box the road. He says there is nothing wrong.

Hah! Nothing wrong? Now, we no longer have a signal. It's dead, bonhomme. Totally…frigging…silent.

He is very nice. He finds a broken wire at the road. He connects us, he says, to "the new technology." He smiles, triumphantly.

Far out. But the 'Net still only connects - at best - at 26,400.

Hmmmm. Mysterious. He says he will call the Central Office. He does. He talks a long time. He comes back into the Hovel with his findings.

  • I now have the latest technology, if you do not count still having a rotary telephone that works via pulse rather than tone dialing.
  • They are "suprised" that I can connect at even 26,400 being how I live so far from civilization.
  • I should accept that. It's not their problem. Their only mandate is that I should have clear voice on the line.
  • I should be just thankful that I connected at 44,000 for so long. Why I cannot connect at that speed any longer remains a mystery to them. And shall remain so.
  • The Central Office didn't know about the new technology installed up the road.
  • The repair guy didn't know about the new poles and lines installed across the road from the new box. They're in plain sight but, hey, that's not his job, eh? Another mystery.
I thank him for all his work and, for sure, he did his best for us. It wasn't good enough, but it was his best.

As for Ma Bell, well, (bleep) her and her fat bottom line.