Thursday, May 11, 2006

No internet for you!

Here's the long version of the internet problems that carebear mentioned:

The management of our apartment complex provides internet access to all of the tenants, a pretty standard practice. Each tenant pays $10 a month for internet access, whether they use it or not. The network itself consists of 2 wireless routers set-up in the management office, which, lucky for us, is only few yards away(I can only imagine what kind of signal the top floor apartments get, we get between "low" and "very low" signal).

When we moved in we were on a 6Mbps Comcast connection, which was, for the most part, reliable. It would get better, then worse, and better again. It would go down occasionally for a couple of hours; not too shabby. Then they dropped Comcast and signed up with iProvo (a fiber network owned by Provo city) which provides a 100Mbps connection. I was excited when I heard they were getting iProvo because it meant an even faster internet connection. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. Since the switch, we have not had a reliable connection for longer than 12 hours at a time. Sometimes its super fast, sometimes its dialup speed, and sometimes it just doesn't work. In fact, sometimes it will load every other page, or it will consistently load certain pages, and others will be inaccessible for hours at a time, or aim will work but webpages won't load, etc, etc

I have taken the opportunity, whenever the internet goes down, to try to diagnose the problem, and nine times out of ten I've been able to pinpoint it. When we were using Comcast, the problem was almost ALWAYS a down connection between Comcast and the apartment Complex. This is easy enough to fix; call the management, who calls comcast, problem solved. However, with iProvo it has been a different story. For starters, the DNS servers provided by iProvo are crap. They're useless (I actually spent a couple of afternoons surfing by IP address). After discovering that about half of the outages were related to the crappy iProvo DNS servers, I found a couple of free, public DNS servers and started using those instead of the iProvo servers. That resolved a lot of the problems we were having. The other common problem with the connection is that the company that provides the backbone connection for iProvo(I forget the company's name so ill call them SLCbackbone) has a shoddy network. I can't count the amount of times that I've seen upwards of 80% packet loss on the same group of servers on SLCbackbone's network.

So that is the history building up to what happened a couple of days ago. On Thursday, or Friday of last week the apartment management went on vacation and at about the same time the internet connection went down. As we usually do when the internet goes down, we tried calling the management, but this time we got an answering machine that said "we're on vacation and unless your house is burning down don't bother us. We'll be back on Tuesday."(ok, so that's not an exact quote) I left a message just letting them know that the internet was down.

Well, the internet was down for 4-5 days straight. Since I rely on the internet for almost everything, it was extremely frustrating. I also just started a CS class where all of the course material is online, meaning that I had no way of knowing what the assignments were, when the lab hours were, etc. Even more frustrating than that, was the fact that the connection was doing some very weird things during those 4-5 days. We had connectivity to everything, and nothing at the same time. Pinging google's servers came back flawlessly every time, traceroutes gave the same results. Every test I could think of was showing that there was nothing wrong with the connection, but at the same time it was as if we had no connection at all. We couldn't load webpages, connect to WoW, connect to AIM or MSN, send/receive email, etc. Nothing worked. Weird.

Anyway, we had called and left a message and I can only imagine how many other people in the complex called and left messages, and I wouldn't be surprised if some people left more than one. So, on Tuesday morning the management came out to fix the network. Apparently they didn't think that fixing the network was enough so they wrote a nasty note(go read it, with original typos intact) and taped a copy to everybody's door.

Are you done reading it?..... Ok.

I think when I first read it I was just so glad the internet was up that I didn't care, but now that I've read it a couple of times over its really starting to bother me. There are just so many problems with what they're saying its ridiculous.

First they complain about the "HOURS" they've spent trying to keep the network up. "only to find out today that it was all caused by tenants misuse of the internet."...

1. Networks don't maintain themselves. Sad but true.

2. There are 32 apartments each paying $10/month for an internet connection that costs the m anagement ~$50/month? Ok, figure in the cost of the routers(which have long since been payed for), and the electric bill to run them. Lets say their total cost is $100 to run and maintain the network, and they spend 5 hours in an average month working on it. They're still making $320 for 5 hours of work, or $44/hour! Even if they spent 10 hours a month its still a pretty descent $22/hour.

3. If you are the only person who can fix it, you are going to hear about it when it goes down. Thats the nature of providing a service to people. Personally I'd love it if they would let me administer the network, but what are the chances of that?

4. "hundreds of hours" hah! Over what period of time? Honestly.

5. "it was all caused by tenants misuse of the internet" No, No, and NO. The fact is that most of the problems are iProvo's problems. I've seen it first hand.

"Internet is provided at Harmony Square for tenants NEEDS ONLY-NOT for play, pleasure, or business"


"such as: gaming(playing playstation, xbox or such type games over the internet)"

Playing WoW, and many other games, averages ~5Kbbs. Thats less than casual internet surfing. Other games that use VOIP can take more, but you're still not killing a 100Mbps fiber connection any time soon.

"sharing (limewire or other downloading or uploading shareware), pier to pier, any business servers, or anything else I might have missed mentioning that maxs out the service and freezes it up for EVERYONE."

pier to pier... Because yachts use lots of bandwidth ya know?

business servers... Because you can run a web server without a static IP, through your apartment complex's wireless router ya know?

Another flaw in this logic is that the wireless connection maxes out at 54Mbps. Its not possible that one person could singlehandedly bring the network to its knees; even if the router decided to give that one person's traffic priority over everybody else's which is also not likely to happen.

Then they go on to say "In the future, if ANYONE is found using more than their share of the internet access, they will be temporarily removed from access to the internet. They will be fined $100.00"

This is not only inflammatory, but also ridiculous. How do they intend to enforce this? Anyone found using more than 312 kb at any given time will be penalized? They better throttle my connection speed then, because if I download a file I can guarantee that its going to be coming across faster than that.

"if ever a second time for one apartment —they will permanently be taken off the access list at their own expense with no deduction in rent and no longer possibility of internet for them." (engrish?)

So they are fined, then revoked access, but continue to pay for it like everybody else?? Sounds fair to me, after all, they must have downloaded a file or something awfull like that right?

Well, this is the end of my rant. I plan on letting them know what I think(in nicer words of course). I hope I dont get us kicked out :P


  1. Be nice! I don't want to live in a box! :)

  2. You can live with us. :)


  3. yeah, that's way better than a box! We'd just have to work on the commute to work and school every day.... hmm...

  4. Well, if you insist on staying in Utah I'll mail you a really nice box. One without retarded landlords.

  5. Wow. That's absurdly stupid, but it's not actually that surprising. It's about the level of service you should expect from people as dumb as apartment managers dabbling in IT services that they know precisely nothing about.

  6. Well, it turns out I wasnt the only one upset about the whole ordeal. I have since learned that we weren't the only ones who wrote a letter back to the management.

    It's also worth mentioning that we haven't had a single problem with the network since then. In my letter I described in detail some of the real problems with the network, so I like to think that maybe my letter somehow helped them get thier stuff in order. Maybe thats being too optimistic, and it was just a coincidence... either way, its nice to have a reliable connection again.