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Offline Today

From 3am this morning our home network has been offline. This was expected. Comcast, our primary access provider, was quite good about notifying us of a planned fiber upgrade. The process has been taking areas of the neighborhood offline briefly over the past month. It’s merely our turn. They project service will be restored by mid-afternoon.

When we got the notice from Comcast I was bit smug about it. I thought I was prepared. In purchasing my new laptop I added the optional LTE radio and installed a T-Mobile SIM just a few weeks ago. That laptop would be online and I could tether to it or my mobile phone if I needed a desktop online.

Wrong! T-Mobile has been offline as well. Not entirely offline, but completely unreliable. Only occasionally able to ping the mighty Google.

To quote Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, “Oooooohhhh, it makes me wonder.”

Does T-Mobile use Comcast for backhaul from the local cell site? Comcast/Xfinity offers cellular service now. Does that MVNO offer leverage the T-Mobile network? Is there something common to the loss of both services?

I had thought that I had redundant internet access over physically different paths. For over a decade I kept a DSL line (1.5M/768k) as a backup to Comcast. It was $99/mo but it was dead reliable. Seriously, it stayed working throughout Hurricane Ike in 2008. As Ike whipped Houston we had continuous phone and internet service. Comcast was out for months.

The concept of a five-9s network is a Bell-head idea. The network should stay up 99.999% of the time. That once drove the design of everything. I guess it’s just a myth in 2019. A historical curiosity.

I sure wish we had backup via the Tachus fiber service I mentioned previously. That would cost about the same as the old DSL service.

Those who work from a home office full-time should have redundant internet access. Mobile internet access doesn’t seem to cut it as a backup.

PS – Posted this during one of the brief intervals when T-Mobile was connecting.

PPS – It turns out that the two outages are related, but not as I thought. A very tall truck took out a Comcast fiber at 1am Friday, Oct 11th. It broke two bundles of 244 fibers, taking out Comcast services, Verizon and T-Mobile for a large section of Houston. Comcast/Xfinity service remains out in Woodland Heights. T-Mobile wireless service has been restore, but remains shaky. The planned Comcast outage for our upgrade was deferred until Monday.

PPPS – Comcast service was restored just after 10pm. 

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