l0pht

The story of how the L0pht got hooked to the net via ISDN

January 11, 1996
The L0pht moved to a new location in July of 1995. We needed to get hooked up to the net at the new place so we thought it was a good time to move up to ISDN. We researched ISPs with ISDN service and thought the The Internet Access Company (TIAC) had the best bang for the buck.

So the gears were in motion. TIAC was contacted in late July and 128K ISDN service was ordered from them. We signed a 1 year contract and put down our beaucoup dollars. Everything seemed hunky dory. The L0phtís ISP contact went on vacation in Maine for a month thinking that the well greased machine of American commerce was steaming along and when he got back the ISDN line would be installed. Ha!

Upon return in the beginning of August our ISP point man found out that nothing had yet been done. TIAC had neglected to ask the L0pht for a telephone number to reference for the install location. All they had was an address and that wouldnít do for ISDN loop qualification. NYNEX has to have things their way or they wonít budge of course. Unfortunatley the backup L0pht contactís phone number got messed up somehow so TIAC had no one to call. Oh well. It was only a month lost which doesnít seem like much if you read to the end of this tale.

TIAC got a phone number to loop qualify. First time was a fail. NYNEX said their was excessive dB loss on the line. Now we werenít too far from the CO. NYNEX was telling us that they were supplying us with crappy lines in our building so we couldnít get ISDN. Itís tariffed that way. They donít have to give you ISDN service if it is going to cost them money to upgrade your line. It doesnít seem fair but this is a monopoly we are dealing with here and fair is not in their vocabulary, only the regulations.

The people at TIAC say that their customers fail loop qualification all the time but if you keep trying sometimes they pass. So we tried again and again. All through the month of September and the beginning of October. It was very frustrating because it seemed like there was absolutely nothing we could do.

Then an idea was formed. TIAC would put any installation charges toward upgrading our service. What if we got a 56K line installed? This kind of service is tariffed differently from ISDN. NYNEX has to provide the service to everyone. This means that NYNEX would have to upgrade our line to remedy the dB loss if necessary. After the 56K was installed we would try again to loop qualify for ISDN. If we made it we would have ISDN installed and our provider would have to pay the 56K install charge even though we only had the service for a month. After all, they will be happy with us paying the larger per month ISDN rate in the long run.

It sounds like a great plan but there are some risks. What if the line was clean enough for 56K and NYNEX didnít have to install a repeater to upgrade the line? We would be stuck at 56K. What if they needed to upgrade the line for 56K but the upgrade wasnít good enough for ISDN? Again stuck at 56K. Well, we needed some service and we werenít going anywhere fast so we decided to go for the 56K. This was On October 20. We called up TIAC and ordered 56K service. TIAC said that there was a 4 week wait for NYNEX to install the line. After all this waiting we had some more. We got scheduled for install on Nov 20.

Behind the scenes, one of the L0pht members was talking with a NYNEX rep he met from work. At his day job they order a lot of ISDN and other high speed lines and this NYNEX rep wanted to keep him happy. The rep talked to the right people and presto, our location was loop qualified. Basically that meant that NYNEX _would_ pay to upgrade our line at their expense. We had heard on comp.dcom.isdn that if you knew the right strings to pull, NYNEX would get you ISDN any way they had possible. Well we found the strings. Isnít this a great system we live in?

We got this news a week before the 56K line was to go in. So we put a stop to that order and tried to get loop qualified again. This time it worked! The magic incantaion had been written down on the engineering report for our phone line. It looks like we are really going to get ISDN now. We have to schedule an install date. NYNEX canít use the date we are already scheduled for with the 56K line because... well the didnít give a good reason. So another 4 week wait! December 13th is then set in stone and we are waiting patiently. You have to be patient at this point.

December 13th comes and goes. No NYNEX. A call to TIAC is put in and they say that the date has been moved to the 15th. NYNEX has very flexible stone you see. Everything at their convenience. The 15th comes and goes. The weekend comes and goes. Monday the 18th comes and goes. Still no NYNEX. Finally on the 19th an installer shows up. Does his business for a couple hours and says we are all set.

We plug in our nice new ISDN router and it sees a BRI. It all looks hunky dory. But there is no connection to the ISP, TIAC. We call TIAC up and they say that they havenít configured their router on their end. When we ask why not they tell us that they didnít expect NYNEX to install our line so fast! Letís see, four working days late is considered fast in NYNEX land. TIAC wasnít kidding. Another ISDN line they had installed took NYNEX nine days from the initial scheduled date. As you will see we (or really NYNEX) breaks the old record.

The 20th rolls on in and TIAC finally gets their router configured but now they canít dial our ISDN number because NYNEX has misconfigured the line. They havenít put our line on TIACís Centrex. All next day (the 21st) TIAC tries to get NYNEX to reconfigure and they eventually do. TIAC tries to dial us now but our router wonít pick up. It just rings and rings. A check of our routerís diagnostic lights shows that it doesnít detect a BRI line. So now somehow our BRI line has disappeared. We had it on Tuesday albeit misconfigured.

Friday the 22st. NYNEX repair is called and told of the problem. No BRI at the site. Nothing happens all day long until about 6pm. They decide to send a tech out. We stay late (well, we always do) to wait for him. He never shows up because he goes to our street address IN THE WRONG CITY! So on Saturday we try to get repair to come out again. NYNEX sends a guy out again but this time to another location in YET ANOTHER CITY. Now here is the coup de grace. Late Saturday NYNEX tells us that the line was never _finished_ being installed so they arenít going to work on it anymore to fix the problem until the next business day, Tuesday the 26th. Huh? We had BRI at one point. Then something happened and it went away. It is now 4 days since the installer left our location and NYNEX says they arenít done installing the line.

NYNEX says it was work on the circuit that wasnít completed and that we had BRI at one point but it might not really have been ours. What were they doing for 4 days? Real life experience really flies in the face of the shiny, happy NYNEX lady on the TV commercials. Here is their happy view of reality. I know you are thinking, NYNEX on the Web? Yeah it eventually happened.

Ok, now you might have guessed, after doing nothing over the Christmas weekend (well I guess thatís understandable) they did nothing again on the Tuesday after Christmas. I guess everyone was nursing their hangovers or returning all the extra ties they got under the tree. So another full day wasted. Then on Wednesday the 28th NYNEX tells us they have diagnosed the problem. It is the BRITE card at the CO. They have tried 5 different cards and they are all defective. We heard through the grapevine that NYNEX bought a boatload of defective cards and they have to try many before they get one that works.

TIAC decided that to get things done they needed to come out to our location with a NYNEX tech. So later Wednesday we had them both there. Somehow everything came together and it just started working. At this point it was a little underwhelming.

So we got ISDN by the end of the year. It was six months in the making. There were weeks of frustration. Weíd have to say it was worth it because we could not afford a fractional T1 and 28.8K analog just doesnít cut it for more than a few users on our systems at a time. The frustration was all unnecessary though. Getting and ISDN line installed should be as easy as getting an analog line installed but you can see from our tale it isnít.

We would be intereseted in hearing other NYNEX horror stories. Please send mail to weld@l0pht.com.

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