Internet Service Sequel — Urban One Rural No Score
SATURDAY UPDATE, STILL WITH EDITORIAL CONTENT
We are back on-the-air at Six Rivers Radio, as of Saturday at 2:00 pm. However, aside from the two day delay in service, there were other issues.
As you can see from the original story below, we expected a service technician today. Giving themselves broad leeway, Bell said the tech would arrive between 8 am and 5 pm, requiring us to ensure somebody was home during that time period.
The tech arrived about 9:45, but not at the house. He phoned from somewhere in Pugwash, a place he called "the office".
He said the problem was fixed and asked us to confirm that a specific green light was blinking on the modem. We confirmed the light was indeed blinking and he said, "You're all set."
It was some time later that we noticed the station was not connected to the internet as required, even though the little green light was dutifully blinking away.
We tried to reboot the modem, then the computer, then tried again with everything off, restarting in sequence from the modem, to the computer, to the apps that run the station and send the signal to our streaming server. No luck, we were repeatedly told there was no internet connection.
The technician was long gone from Pugwash, so we made another call to tech support at Bell. After following instructions to check this and do that, including reading off the long modem serial number and some other personal information to ensure I was who I said I was, the support tech excused herself for a few minutes and when she returned she said, "It should be good now," and sure enough, it was.
I asked what she had done to make it work and her reply was nearly flabbergasting. She said, "I turned it on." After all the fiddling, both physically and remotely, the modem needed to be reset at the phone company office, wherever that might be.
Bell operates a number of its own radio stations across the land. I can't imagine they would allow one of their own stations to be off the air for two hours, let alone two days.
We'll keep a few elastic bands, some light wire, and some previously chewed bubblegum on hand just in case we suffer another outage on this Bell 'Ultra Highspeed' service.
The Original Story from Thursday
Six Rivers Radio is currently off the air locally though broadcasting from its backup facility in Montreal. While music will stream 24/7, all live and local programming is suspended awaiting a service technician from Bell Aliant.
The local service failed sometime between 10 am and 1 pm today and the usual efforts to restore the underpowered internet service were unsuccessful.
A technician at Bell’s telephone tech-support also failed to restore the service. He identified the problem with the external line, perhaps somewhere close to the studios in the Hope Centre, though the faulty line could be elsewhere in Pugwash or beyond.
Despite the importance of the radio service, a Bell technician will not be available till Saturday, leaving the local not-for-profit, community station off-air for 48 hours or more.
It is not the first time the service has failed. Numerous technical short-comings have prompted a number of visits by technicians who could do little more than apologize. One, who was clearly upset at being the face of the company before the customer, said Pugwash is operating on antiquated technology that Bell would continue to “milk” as long as they could, implying the company could do much better but will only upgrade when forced by regulators.
The distribution system for internet and telephone service relies on telephone wire, the light gauge, colour-coded wire that has been used in landline phones and homes for decades. A distribution panel in the basement of the Hope Centre looks like a rat’s nest of tangled, brittle wires in glorious living colour — red, yellow, green, and black. The technician mentioned earlier, said he has to fight with the same mess of wires in the system, hoping to find a pair that will actually carry a signal.
While the company coasts on old technology in rural areas of Canada, it races to compete with others in the big cities and urban areas where nothing but the best is acceptable.
Meanwhile, the federal and provincial governments continue to pour millions into improving rural communications infrastructure, while Cumberland and Colchester counties have partnered to enhance broadband services where Bell and its colleagues will not go.
Customers receiving internet service for the first time or those seeing improvements beyond dial-up may be delighted, but to call it “high speed” is the furthest thing from the truth.
Discussion has already started about 6G — the sixth generation of wireless service — even though companies are still rolling out 5G. But when you consider many parts of our rural neighbourhood are yet to see the first generation, the urban-rural inequity verges on criminal.
Instead of the various levels of government throwing tax payer money into a pit of mediocrity, the federal government should remind the CRTC — Canadian Radio-television, and Telecommunications Commission — that the original mandate was to protect the interest of the public.
In fact, the opening description on the CRTC website says, “We are dedicated to ensuring that Canadians have access to a world-class communication system that promotes innovation and enriches their lives. Our role is to implement the laws and regulations set by Parliamentarians who create legislation and departments that set policies. We regulate and supervise broadcasting and telecommunications in the public interest.”
Not only have they allowed a two-class, rural and urban system, they have done so while allowing Canada’s larger telecom companies, like Bell, to grow exponentially and become among the wealthiest corporations in the country.
Allowed to continue, the disparity for rural residents will only worsen while the telecoms expand their arrogance and indifference.
What are your thoughts on our rural internet service? Add your comments below.