Please excuse the spotty network availability of our websites during the past two weeks. On Tuesday, July 20, which will be forever known by my company as “Black Tuesday,” we upgraded our AT&T DSL internet services to the new AT&T Uverse for a faster Internet connection. You might have experienced access problems during those weeks while we fixed problems and changed over to new IP addresses.
Unfortunately, you probably experienced problems accessing our sites or emailing us for a few weeks afterwards. Our experience with UVerse during the past few weeks had its ups and downs. Unfortunately, those ups and downs were in the form of Internet connectivity with our web and mail servers. We still don’t have an active fax line as a result of the upgrade either. However that should be fixed by Thursday, August 18.
The problem with UVerse isn’t in the actual service itself, but in the 2Wire gateway appliance that brings the service into your home or office. You must conform to it or it will punish you with random outages until you conform. I’m happy to announce that the U-Verse 2Wire appliance and I have worked out our differences and come up with a compromise that we can both live with. The 2Wire appliance has allowed my websites to peacefully exist on the Internet for the past week without even a hiccup or disturbance.
Why did it take so long to fix the problem? It’s because I had to figure it out myself. Because I have static IP addresses on my 2Wire account, and because all my problems related to static IP configurations and registering the names in DNS, all the UVerse help desk could do was to bounce me around from department to department until I learned that layout of authority in the support departments. They even tried to sign me up for paid support. However no one in the paid support area even knew what DNS or static IPs were. With the exception of 2 out of 30 people I was transferred to, both of which were in the non-pay tier 2 support, no one understood what static IP addresses or DNS records were or anything related. Rather than admit defeat, they just dumped me into another holding cue. During that time I actually signed up for DSL with full intention of going back, canceling at the last minute. The lure of faster Internet was too compelling. If I hadn’t found the cure on my own, I’d be a DSL customer once again, like I was before.
During my quest for answers, UVerse tech support had a few humorous answers. When I asked them to register my domain names with THEIR DNS nameserver, in their network, maintained by their staff, the technician wanted to know what operating system my computer was using. I knew he had no idea what I was talking about at that point. He dumped me to another department’s help desk to get rid of me. Problem solved for him anyway. When I asked another UVerse support person about submitting my domain names to their DNS servers, he said the they don’t support WINS, I then said, “that’s nice, but can we get back to my problem?” Three technicians in Tier 2 UVerse support were very helpful and for that I’m very grateful. They provided a good start for my investigation journey. However, I still had PTR, A, MX, and CNAME records to update in their DNS servers, so my journey was far from over. At that point, I remembered my days as a system admin and knew there had to be a way around tech support. I found it by doing a nslookup, whois lookup, etc., on the DNS servers I was trying to get listed on and there it was, like a gleaming beacon of hope. I found an administrative contact email address for the DNS servers. I immediately shot an email to the contact explaining my situation and the records I needed changing and they were a great help. It always pays to be resourceful. There’s always a backdoor if you know where to look.
After all my experiences, it was worth the struggle to get a faster Internet connection. I’m glad it all worked out and thanks to 3 out of 30 technicians at UVerse support and the extremely helpful DNS provisioning staff I’m now a happy UVerse customer. Granted, most of the support issues most UVerse customers face, involve simple things like how to program the remote, or how to sign up for pay-per-view movies so they scale down the knowledge pool to address those issues and for most people this is acceptable. However, they need to have a staff that can help for configurations related to having their products work with static IPs. After all, they sell them so they need to be able to service them. The lack of knowledge in that area was frightening.
As an IT tech who successfully slayed the UVerse dragon, I’m offering my UVerse consulting services for $500/hr. Trust me, there will be a point when you’ll gladly pay it. Just kidding about the price. If you have any problems with UVerse and static IP addresses, I’ll gladly share what I discovered related to static IP addresses and trying to get your firewall to work behind their firewall. If you’re wanting to know why your TV doesn’t work or stuff like that, call UVerse tech support. That’s what they’re qualified to handle.
AUG 19 UPDATE: As of now, my fax line works so all my problems seem to be behind me. Nothing but blazing fast Internet ahead. Hopefully!
SEPT 22 UPDATE: Only had one DHCP problem happen since last update. Might have been related to server maintenance. Confidence building.