When the choice is taken out of your hands

9 years ago, the Australian government embarked on a national program to upgrade our Internet infrastructure. This was done in part as an economic stimulus in response to the GFC, and to position Australia better in the future online world.

The goal was to replace an ageing copper network with (initially but upgradable) 100MBps Fibre connections to the majority of homes, with 25MBps wireless and satellite services covering the more country and remote areas.

Unfortunately, imbecilic politics and politicians got in the way, and a change of government announced the performance specifications were excessive and too expensive. The new government, lead by a technophobe and spite, embarked on finding ways to do the implementation on the cheap.

The result was a continually delayed project, decisions made on price over function, and the use of a mishmash of technologies that all seems to have ended up costing just as much money but with a poorer outcome. It also risks unexpected competition and obsoleteness from emerging technologies like 5G.

After all this time roughly 7 million of 12 million premises in the country can connect to this “new” network. Some suburbs are broadband winners, some are losers – depending on what sort of technology was rolled out to them.

Our suburb was earmarked to have Fibre to the Node installed. This is where new Fibre was run to little roadside node exchanges dotted around the suburb, and you connected to those over the existing copper phone lines. Your theoretical speed dropped dramatically the further away you were from the node – and plausibly you could end up having a slower connection than the existing ADSL2 most use.

That is what the suburb next to us got – but thankfully because the whole rollout was taking so long, we have ended up getting a newer and better option of Fibre to the Curb. This is where Fibre is run to the phone pits in our street, and only the final 10 to 100 meters uses the existing Copper lines. In theory we are much more likely to reach the 100MBps speeds currently on offer.

Having a pre-order in for the connection I was kept informed on the status of the work. This was meant to be ready in November, sorry December, sorry February, sorry May, sorry June, sorry a date at the start of June, sorry a date at the end of June, sorry some unknown time from July.

Having watched the physical infrastructure going in over the last 7 months from my study window, I knew the switch should be somewhat soon. Unexpectedly however last Wednesday night I received some more automated messages about my pre-order, indicating it has been installed 40 minutes earlier, and that my phone number was being ported soon. This was a bit of a surprise as I had been given none of the hardware required to make the connection.

Predictably since then my Internet connection has been dropping out as often as every 5 minutes, is fluctuating at around 15% of its normal speed, and my phone line is buzzing and losing dial tone with a massive amount of interference.

I called my ISP the following morning, and they worked out the unexpected porting of my phone number had removed all codes for my ADSL2 connection from the exchange. They had no idea why I had any sort of internet connection and advised not to turn my modem off as I’d not reconnect after. They have now couriered the new hardware out that I require, but seemingly on a premium but very slow-moving camel.

When it arrives, I am to plug it in and see if my new broadband connection works. I am not feeling particularly confident as while I have an email saying the connection was installed, my ISP shows it having a status of still being provisioned. I’m also not sure how – if the line had been switched over to a Fibre port, how am still getting internet or phone (be it bad).

Unfortunately, I must wait and see. My ISP can’t log any support calls for my existing Internet as technically my ADSL2 connection no longer exists. They would have to ask for a new ADSL2 connection – but that option is blocked at the exchange as all new connections must be through the new broadband infrastructure. They can’t log a support call against the new connection either – as it doesn’t have a status of active yet. Welcome to limbo.

I am mostly bemused and resigned to our current fate. I’ve heard so many horror stories that our example so far is mild.

Now EVE. While I have not been especially active in EVE, I am logging in a couple of times a week to undock and do stuff. For the moment however that choice has been taken out of my hands.

Recently I did run over to Jita to pick up a few Abyssal Space Filaments for use later, and to check out the prices on the related skill books and new ships. Still a massive premium, particularly on the skill books, so I did not look to buy any.

I had planned to try the latest event called Federation Grand Prix. In this event you fly various routes to iconic sites, systems and wrecks in known space. You gain points in the Agency for each course you complete that can add up to various rewards.

My immediate thought was CCP will be leading unsuspecting players into Low and Null Sec systems where it would be a blood bath. Sure enough, soon after the event started I read on various sites of smart bombing battleships wiping out participants heading to the obvious sites. The event doesn’t seem to be about exploring and getting to know space better, or pitting player against player (as smart bombing interceptors and shuttles isn’t really a two-way thing) but is about losing ships and getting used to it.

CCP is still working on the idea that if people lose ships (even if tricked into it unexpectedly) they will suddenly become PVP fanatics and want to stay with the game for longer. I assume a small number of people do just that.

I was going to try a few runs anyway in a throw away clone and ship at a quieter time, hence I logged in last Wednesday night with a couple hours to spare, only to find me being disconnected every few minutes.

What can you do.