It killed the modem, my router, and even destroyed the Ethernet connection inside my PC. Third time in three years.
If I had a real choice I'd dump Comcast in a heartbeat. Would have done it after the last two strikes too.
But like most Americans, I can't. The Bush Administration's FCC and Justice Department have succeeded in turning Internet access into a duopoly, phone and cable. Independent ISPs are gone. This is precisely the opposite of what the Telecommunications Act of 1996 intended. In fact, that act was voided by GOP fiat. This, to my mind, is one of the worst of a litany of crimes for which this Administration will pay at the bar of history, and for which the rest of us will pay for the rest of our lives.
While other nations have competitive Internet markets, a wide choice of providers, and the right of consumers to vote with their mice for the best possible price and conditions, American Internet users have been Sovietized. And it's getting worse. The monopolists are now trying to limit the amount of traffic you can move, and the government (of course) is seeking to monitor what we say online a la China.
But it's the practical aspects of all this which really drive me crazy.
Yesterday, for me, was something of a nightmare. I tried going to a coffee bar but found that my NetGear WiFi card went toes-up after a few hours. I tried loading the software onto another laptop, but this only proved the card was hosed.
I called Comcast, which insisted their modem worked. All the lights were on. Change the cable, they said. I did, several times. No improvement.
Finally I spent the big bucks. I called my friend Ralph Kirkland (right), and he came by in the afternoon. With a cable. It was quickly clear to him that customer service was wrong. You need a new modem, he said. But you can't just plug any old modem into a Comcast line. It has to be approved by Comcast, and owned by Comcast.
Customer service said come by our store on South Hairston Road, 10 miles away. It's the closest.
So, in mid-afternoon, I grabbed the dead modem and headed east. Right into a traffic jam. Five miles of traffic jam. I got to the joint and found a line out the door. I plugged in my iTunes and stood there. I got to the front of the line. I explained the problem, and the solution. The clerk went into a back room, then returned to say "We don't have any modems. We're expecting more tomorrow."
Returning home, I was amazed when Ralph said he might be able to find the parts I needed back at his house. An hour later he had me up and running, although he did ask that I get another modem from Comcast. He even made it possible for my son to use my printer from his bedroom, as God and Metcalfe long intended.
This morning a second miracle occurred. A real live Comcast truck showed up, with a real live Comcast guy. I explained the problem of my constant power outages. I took him into my basement. He took one look at the set-up and said, "You're not grounded." Then he went off to seek out a grounding wire.
Him I haven't seen since.
Want to know the biggest problem in the American economy? It's not the price of oil. It's not the taxes. It's not immigration. It's not transportation. It's the systematic destruction of our Internet infrastructure by stupid monopolists and their handmaidens in Washington.
Free people like Ralph Kirkland, give them the incentives they need, and we can fix this problem.