When my network doesn’t [work].

We switched our Internet connectivity for this server over to Island Tel’s OfficeConnect service a week ago today (hint to Island Tel: if you want people to link to your website, don’t use frames — you lose your brand identity!).

The transition went smoothly. The Island Tel installer was crackerjack: he was in and out in about 20 minutes (could have left sooner, but he was pleasantly thorough). We installed a switched hub, he made a call to the central office and, kazaam, we switched from dynamic IP to static, and everything flowed just like it did before.

The next day I moved the server up from the old Okeedokee data centre to its new home in our basement here on Prince Street; that transition, after the usual wait for new DNS information to propogate, went smoothly too.

So, all in all, I’m happy with the change, with the service I’m getting, and with the price point ($129.95/month for 1Mbps).

I am, however, dogged by constant technical problems, apparently unrelated directly to the Island Tel network: I maintain a webserver in Boston, which requires a lot of connection, over the Internet, to the server for upkeep, development and maintenance. In the run of an average day, I might be connected to the Boston server 5 or 6 hours. So I notice when things go wrong.

This traffic travels from my workstation over the Island Tel, Aliant, BellNexxia, and InterMedia networks before reaching Xensei in Quincy, just south of Boston.

For the past three days, I’ve been experiencing the oddest problem with this connection: every 6 minutes, like clockwork, the connection seems to “disappear” for about 10 seconds. Then it comes back, and everything is okay. For another 6 minutes. And so on. As you might imagine, this makes working on the Boston server somewhat frustrating: it’s like talking on a cell phone that cuts out every once in a while.

My problem is that the technical problem seems to lie either with BellNexxia or with InterMedia. I am a customer of neither, directly, and so I’ve no avenue for technical support.

The folks at Island Tel have opened up a trouble ticket on the matter, and have apparently escalated it to Aliant (note: Island Tel, Aliant and BellNexxia are all part of the same corporate family, although it seems a somewhat distant family most of the time, the kind where you lost your Uncle’s phone number a year ago and haven’t been able to find it since). As the “old” Island Tel wouldn’t have taken this step, I can only be grateful that they’ve at least gone this far. Alas to date it’s produced nothing in the way of results.

This week in the midst of the Code Red scare, there was a lot of hot air talk about the supreme importance of maintaining the unimpeded flow of Internet traffic because it’s now being using by doctors to do remote operations, banks to conduct online banking, etc. etc. More serious than Code Red is, I think, the fact that Internet Service Providers and backbone operators haven’t yet figured out the streamlined business practices and communications systems needed to take care of nagging little problems like this.

I certainly know that when the doctor in Milan is removing my appendix over the Internet, I don’t want him to lose contact with the e-scalpel every 6 minutes!