Rants & Essays

IDT's Upgrade: From Analog to Abacus

By Marcus Pan

IDT's Upgrade

For those of you following this recent epidemic of the chronologically ill IDT, you might remember my past article called IDT's Dynamic Policies. In it I discussed two things that, amazingly enough, IDT was doing right! One was speed, and the other was a very good connection rate. I would always achieve a 24Kbps connection when I called. Sure, sometimes I had to redial once or twice, but that's expected. Still…24,000bps flying over my phone line. I have a 33.6Kbps modem, but as IDT had 28.8K modems, 24K was acceptable to me. On February 28, 1997, this all changed.

Upgrade to Digital

IDT claims they've upgraded to digital lines. And, might I add, to 33.6Kbps modems. Really? Where? The phone number changed, too, but that's not a big deal. I used to have a dozen numbers I can dial in to, but now I only have one. No big deal. But how come I have to redial an average of a half dozen times now to get a connection in excess of 20K? I've actually, for the first time since my Commodore days, seen a connection of 11K! And then you'll get 14.4K, 16.8K, 19.2K and a slew of numbers in between. I didn't buy a 33.6Kbps modem and a business connection to the Internet to transfer at Commodore 64 rates, no sir. This hasn't changed in the two weeks or so since the upgrade. Sometimes I have to dial as many as 12 times to get in at a 21.6Kbps connection, which is barely acceptable for the WWW (and the running of four sites, might I add). Their analog lines seemed better equipped to handle dial-ins than they're new, "digital" lines. There were even times when I'd have to call on my voice line to tie up a bad modem. Then dial in with my system for a connection. This didn't always work, either. I even tried dialing in with my voice phone, then my cellular to tie up two of their modems. When I dialed in with my system, I figured I'd get a decent connection. I connected at a rate of 14.4K!

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I've spoken to numerous people in #IDTSUPPORT (their IRC support channel) about the problem. One told me the lines were noisy. Noisy? This has gone way beyond simple noise. I've dealt with line noise on a consistent basis. I still remember MA Bell and her over-sized conglomeration of shitty wires all over the country. Now that was where you got real noise from. Line taps also are a good source of line noise, but we won't go there. Who the hell ever heard of noise on a digital line anyway? Therefore, this excuse doesn't come clean.

Another told me that MCI hooked them up with bad T1s. Where I come from, when a company can afford multiple T1 lines they're considered a pretty big customer. It would be in MCI's best interest to go out there and fix this supposed T1 problem as quickly as possible or face losing a large, corporate account. Another interesting point is what the hell does the T1 line, which connects IDT to the Internet, have to do with the phone lines and modems that connect me to IDT? I've never dialed up a T1 before. Somehow, then, this bad T1 theory doesn't wash either.

The next excuse I got, which was just last night, was that upgrading the network and working out the glitches takes a while. Sure it does. I can understand that. I asked why it took two weeks. He said because the problems were intermittent. Intermittent my ass! There has yet to be a time when I've dialed in to receive a good connection. Like I said, tries average around 6 per session. The definition of intermittent does not mean it happens every time I try to call in. I consider that constant, not intermittent. Re-read Webster's, children. Again, somehow, another unwashable theory.

Oh, and with all this excuse trading I've done on IRC I might as well mention that Beef still won't talk to me. I even tried to entice him out of his background ornament stage by mentioning I included him in my previous article about IDT. Didn't work. I guess infamy doesn't sit right with some people.

IDT or AOL?

Is IDT becoming the latest America Online? At AOL, it's hard to get through and you get a lot of busy signals. At IDT it's hard to get through because you get a lot of "line noise." At AOL, they are spending a lot of money to upgrade their network. At IDT, they are spending a lot of money to upgrade to "digital" (I still want to know where they are) lines and multiple T1 connections. Also at AOL, there is no support or customer service to speak of. At IDT, the only support you get is on their IRC channel. That, obviously, doesn't work if you can't dial in. And, if you don't agree with the exact views of their network administrators (read: Beef), you are banned from that channel, therefore receiving no support. IDT is definitely heading in the same direction that Stephen Case drove America Online. Seems their moving at the same speed, too.

Where's the Upgrade?

So now the conclusion is that IDT has lost one out of two things they did right. They still have a fast network and Internet hookup there. The problem is that you can't enjoy this fast hookup without a fast connection speed…and that's not available any longer. I hope they clean up their act. I really do. There's a ton of ISP's out there who could walk into the Hackensack area and plow them into the ground. And you know what? As pissed as I am right now, I'd be their first customer!

More Administrative Attitudes

I stopped in to #IRCSUPPORT today to ask if any headway was made on all this as usual. Beef was there (of course) so I sent him a copy of the picture I made at the top of this article. I thought he might enjoy it. Unfortunately, his good friend (another network administrator) got upset and then banned me from the support channel again. Interesting, eh? I asked him why, of course (this guy, by the way, goes by Scotty), and received in answer that I was performing "public bashing" and that if I have a problem with someone I should "write a letter." So I asked him to who, as I've written quite a few already that was "lost in transit." No answer. I then said I wanted to send my letters somewhere where they won't get lost. I was asked if I had "anything better to do." Huh? Ok, next I asked if he could answer my questions regarding the recent upgrade. No answer. I asked again. No answer. The Hefty song started playing again as I invited him to see the article which he is referenced in as I put it up later tonight.