ISP questions

Reid Linnemann lreid at
Thu Jun 4 19:04:42 UTC 2009

Written by Mark Hartkemeyer on 06/04/09 11:23>>
> I'm pretty new to FreeBSD and was reading part of Greg Lehey's The
> Complete FreeBSD 4th Edition.  I found the section on ISPs in chapter
> 18 really interesting.  I put some of his recommended questions to my
> ISP, Cincinnati Bell's Zoomtown.  I think I talked to three or four
> people before I even got some of them answered.
> Here are some of the questions and answers:
> 1. What speed connections do you offer?
>     5MBps upload/5MBps download (she said bytes, but should it be bits?)
>     768kBps
> 2. Can you supply a static IP address? At what cost?
>     Yes, $49.95/month for the whole Internet package
> 3. How many hops are there to the backbone?
>     "It depends on the site you're trying to reach." (I think they
> misunderstood what I meant by "backbone"?)
> 4. What kind of hardware and software are you running?
>     "Can't provide this, due to security reasons."
> 5. Can you supply primary or secondary DNS for me?
>     "You need a static IP."
> 6. Can you provide name registration? At what cost?
>     "Talk to residential services."
> 7. Do you give complete access to the Internet, or do you block some ports?
>     "Cannot provide this info, due to security reasons."  After
> asking, I was told that I would be able to run a mail server and http
> server on my connection.
> 8. Do you have complete reverse DNS?
>     (They didn't know.)
> I assume this is a pretty typical response from ISPs.  Has anyone
> asked their ISP questions like these?  If so, what kind of response
> did you get?  Does anyone know of a really good ISP, or a good
> resource for finding a good ISP around Cincinnati, OH?
> Thanks,
> Mark Hartkemeyer

These responses don't surprise me. I'm actually impressed your rep knew
the numbers for the up/down bandwidth, even though their metric was
wrong. There was a point in time when a technical support representative
for an ISP was knowledgeable and courteous, but those days are forever
gone and those reps have been replaced with poorly trained monkeys that
are forbidden to divert from The Script. You could not get any
intelligible information about the ISP's services any more than you
could expect to get intelligible information about a Dell computer's
north bridge controller from a Walmart Associate. This is attributable
to the explosion in popularity of personal internet access, resulting in
a greater need for servicing a high volume of low complexity technical
support requests (e.g., "my internet don't work"). The reps are paid far
to little to be technically competent and the ISP doesn't get a return
for training them to be proficient when they can just ist them in front
of a knowledge database they've already invested cash into and tell them
to read what it says. You have to meander your way at least up to tier
II or III support to get to anyone who might possibly be invested enough
in the service to know the meaning of your questions and the answers.

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