Faster and Faster Makes Life Calmer

Today a strange man was in my house playing with my stuff. Before he left, he gave me a bill.

After a slow descent into, well, slowness, I’ve finally upgraded my internet to a fiber-optic connection. In order to do this, an NTT technician had to visit the house and start tinkering with stuff to get the high speed goodness going.

Oddly, despite Japan’s blistering speeds, I may be the last fiber-optic holdout in my school. There are a lot of reasons for this. When broadband first became available it turned out our apartment was too far away from an NTT station and was, therefore, in some sort of ADSL dead zone. We stuck with dial-up.

Also, because of expensive landline phone prices (at the time) most Japanese learned to surf the internet through their phones which means they took to smartphones quickly. It also means that Japan has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world but has few people interested in it.

Finally, a version of ADSL became available for our apartment but there was still a huge drop off. Our 50 mbps broadband was only 8 mbps by the time it reached our building. (At the time, that was still faster than the USA.)

This was such a huge improvement that for several years I couldn’t think of a good reason to upgrade even though I knew it would be a good idea. This is also a symptom of my “use it till it’s embarrassingly old” attitude toward stuff.

Then, on Christmas 2013, things began to crumble. The internet shut off for a while and then was spotty for a week. I emailed and complained and called and complained and suddenly everything was working fine.

Last October, though, everything crumbled. The connection became spotty and when it recovered it was deathly slow. One test registered a .79 mbps down and .39 mbps up. (And that was average.) My provider sent a new modem that helped mostly by curing the spottiness but not improving the speed.

It was frustrating and even our oldest was complaining about how slow things were. (I responded to this by unplugging the wi-fi hub, thus curing her problem. Sort of.)

Finally, She Who Must Be Obeyed complained and I contacted my provider who told me to contact NTT and then to contact them again once things were set up. I called NTT and asked the guy who answered to speak slowly so I could understand him. He did, at first, but the basic technique of Japanese sales reps is to bury you in words said as fast as humanly possible and then get softer and softer as they list all the possible options. It’s almost as if they’re reading the fine print on a drug commercial:

ifyouarestillabletouseyourfingersdonottauntXYZandrefrainfromusingbadlanguageinitspresence.) Sign here. Send money there.

By the time he got up to speed, I could barely hear and understand him. I told the man to call back when She Who Must Be Obeyed was available. She spoke but I could hear that hearing a Japanese voice made the guy talk faster.

All I managed to glean was that I couldn’t get the 1 gigabit per second connection I wanted and would have to settle for a paltry 100 mbps connection. Sigh.

Then today’s bit of nervousness was the fear that we’d still have the big drop off. We have some, we’re getting about 79 or 80 mbps, or about 100 times more speed than we had last week.

Now I have to think of some interesting ways to use all that speed.





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