Our VoIP (voice over IP) has been strange lately. People can’t hear us when they call us. They can’t hear us when we call them. We dial a number and we land somewhere else, another someone we happen to know, but not the person we dialed. It’s the last person we dialed. Impossible to call someone new.
I called our provider on Monday:
“Hello, we have a problem with our VoIP.”
“It’s a known problem?”
“Yup. And we don’t know when it is going to be fixed.”
“I know it’s not funny,” he offered by way of apology, “but we don’t know when it is going to be fixed. Could be a couple of days. Could be a couple of weeks.”
“Hmmm … Did you get new modems?”
“Yep, they’re here.”
“Should I bring you my modem? And pick up a new one?”
“Yeah, you could try that.”
“But it’s not going to fix the problem?”
“Nope, but it won’t hurt. It’ll make the line a little more reliable, but it won’t fix your problem.”
“OK, I’ll stop by at 5 pm.”
I kept thinking to myself, “Is this all you’ve got? Really? Houston, we have a problem. And all you can say is, ‘Yep, and who knows when it will be fixed?'” Really? Thank goodness this company is not in charge of national security, health or education. Note, he says the problem is being experienced by all the providers in Nouméa (they just haven’t isolated the source).
I stopped by at 5 pm. The modem wasn’t ready (though they said it would be – oops). I waited. I got the modem. His advice? Use Google Talk to speak with those abroad (not Skype or the phone). I guess that part is helpful. Why Google Talk would be more effective is beyond me … we’re talking the same lines, here. And remember, it’s the same set up: you connect one phone to the wall for local calls and one phone to the modem for VoIP calls. Yep, count them. Two phones. Last year we had one phone to do both, but that didn’t work out too well, so they said to use two phones. (What developed country am I living in again?)
So I set up the new modem at home. I connect the two phones. I’m usually okay at tech. Guess what. We have a line. We can make calls. We have ADSL. But no WIFI. Nope. Nada.
That was Monday night.
Tuesday morning I called them back. (24-hour service does not exist here; we’re only a few hundred thousand people in New Caledonia, and only about 25,000 of us have broadband.)
“Oh yeah, you have to delete the wifi connections in your phones and tablets and they’ll reinstall correctly.”
“Okay, thanks,” I say, and hang up.
I try that. Nada. Niets. Niente.
Checking out the modem (again), I notice a new password on the back of the modem. Bingo. New password entered on the phones, laptop and tablet. And we’re in service. For the Internet.
Tonight I had a conference call with Paris to discuss several projects I’m working on. I work a lot by phone with Paris. VoIP is kind of important (as it is to a significant client base, confessed my provider). I asked my provider if they would be sending out a note informing their clientele of the problem, its status, and to confirm that they were doing their level best to fix it.
“Um, we can tell our management that clients would like this, but we don’t know what management will do,” came the response.
Inspires a whole heck of a lot of confidence, doesn’t it? I should tell you we are paying 6,300 CFP (€53 or A$68) a month to have spotty VoIP, frustrated colleagues abroad, and no knowledge of when everything will clear up.
So how did the call go tonight? Cut in and out, whole paragraphs left unheard, your usual.
Imagine my pleasure when I read in the local paper yesterday that all sorts of “micro cuts” and full network interruptions have been happening in Caledonia since last weekend. They’re calling it a bit of a “Digital Butterfly Effect“. A repeater cable, Sea-Me-We3, is in default in Indonesia. This cable passes through Perth, Western Australia, and carries data to and from Europe. Its malfunction has a significant impact on the Internet connection for users in New Caledonia. The solution? To reroute via a cable to the United States. A fully functioning Internet connection is scheduled for 1 March.
Could this be the source of all our trouble (keep in mind that our VoIP problems have been going on all month)? The provider was not all that keen to explain the source of the problem, but my guess is the paper got a hold of a part of it. Good thing we get the paper, is all I say. Now, to hold off business calls until March …