Lighthearted Fun

“Don’t touch my knob!”

So, have you ever wondered what really goes on at an ISP headquarters?  I have, because I am currently experiencing some issues with my connection, and I am happy to inform you that I have spent some time looking into this matter and can now divulge the fruits of my labors.  If you remember correctly, my research consists mainly of grabbing a good cup of coffee, and finding a spot I can sit and stare off into spacelet my imagination run wild do some very intense research. After many hours of such strenuous activities, I have, over the years, come up with a multitude of solutions for many problems.  (Unfortunately for me, they never seem to be my own problems and when I try to share the vast wealth of knowledge to those I think could benefit, most of them are uninterested at best, downright mean at worst.)  Anyway, we are heading way off topic so lets regroup and get back to the issue at hand:  ISP misconduct.

ISP is usually accepted as the acronym for Internet Service Provider but I put forth the suggestion that it actually signifies: Internet Supply Prevention.  I do not come to this conclusion lightly, it has not yet been a year since I was in love with, and hailed the greatness of my personal ISP but over time, my affection has cooled somewhat. Here is my theory of how they work and what actually goes on behind the scenes.

So, a guy, Freddie, gets the idea that he wants to start a business of providing internet to the masses.   First he must find a large deposit of internet available for sale.  This can be very taxing and it actually takes some time to locate the best and fastest internet at the lowest price.  Once he does find it and buys it he is ready to resell it to the unsuspecting victims in his “coverage area”.   Right off the bat he may have 120 customers agreeing to buy 5 mbps for 50 dollars/ month.  This seems reasonable to his clients so everything is going great.  He even hires a pimply young associate whose anti social tendencies have caused him to renounce his family and friends in an effort to get a “good” job.  The sole responsibly of this new employee, lets call him Igor, is to sulk in a back room and adjust the knobs.  Have I mentioned the knobs? No? Ok so here is the scoop:  In the back room there is a wall filled with knobs.  Each one of these knobs corresponds with a customer.  These are the speed controls for each account. When a new client is signed up he is allocated an empty knob and the knob is turned to full power, but each week, Igor must dial back the knob at a rate that will go undetected by the new customer.  I can picture the procedure as it may have happened to me almost a year ago:

Freddie calls Igor into his office and tells him they have just signed up Marcus Miller for a 5mbps program.  “Give him the usual first month introductory speed (5.3 mbps)”.  Igor complies but reminds Freddie that they will soon run out of knobs and that he will have to dial back some of their current clients in order to get the full 5.3 mbps to me.  Freddie says that is fine, but to make sure to use only small adjustments of the other 120 knobs so that no one will notice.  He promises to get more knobs installed as soon as he can.

Time passes and I am very happy with my ISP and even go out of my way to tell my friends about how great the service is.  I refer a few people who end up getting the introductory, first month rate of 5.3 mbps not knowing that this will cost me in the future.  All the while Igor is in the back room making daily adjustments to all the knobs.  Constantly dialing back my speed. He is cackling to himself with sadistic satisfaction while he pictures my Netflix movie hanging up for a few seconds, then proceeding at a slightly lesser quality.

More time passes and I notice that my connection drops off once in a while and my speed is not quite what it used to be.  So I call the tech number and am prompted to leave a message, which I do, complaining about the slower speeds.  This causes some alarm in the back room because there is a brand new panel of knobs that need some bandwidth so this is not the time to be giving more speed to a current customer.  Igor does a great job of juggling the knobs and discovers a few accounts who seem to be traveling abroad and therefor he can redirect some of their speed to me.  I am once again seeing speeds approaching my initial tests and am appeased for the moment.

Freddie is making a nice profit but he gets greedy.  He makes the business decision to install even more knobs to his already overloaded system.  Igor is already throttling back all the customers the maximum allowable amount just to get one new client the “first month speed” Things start spiraling out of control when I notice that my current speed is just over 1 mbps and the connection seems to be dropping off at weekly intervals for no apparent reason.  I once again call and complain but this time Igor has all the knobs so over loaded that adjusting it does not seem to help much.  They tell me that they have fixed it and I should notice a difference in the next few days.  I don’t. I call again and this time I’m told that they may actually need to send a tech out to the house in person.  Mine is scheduled to come out “next week” and it buys Igor a few days to find someone who is on vacation so he can bleed their bandwidth off to me.  The technician will visit my house, spend a few minutes looking at my collection of antiques, and then text Igor, telling him to turn my knob back to full power.  I will once again be happy with my service and brag on them to my friends and acquaintances thereby referring even more people and the whole cycle starts all over again.

At this point, in my research, I was jolted back to reality, (sipping room temperature coffee has a way of doing that)  I realize that all this could have been avoided.  I call up the tech support number and demand to speak with Igor directly.  After a mostly cordial conversation with the receptionist, I ascertain that Igor is unavailable to speak to customers in person so I yell at her to tell him to “stop adjusting my knob!” after a long, awkward silence, she hangs up.  Ok, maybe there would have been a better way to handle that, but someone has to take a stand for the “everyman” and make a statement.

So to all the ISPs out there: “STOP TURNING OUR KNOBS!!!”

Thank you.

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  1. Hey, why don’t you come up with a device that monitors your download and upload speed, then sign an agreement with Igor that you will only pay your monthly bill if the speed maintains what was agreed upon.

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