Comcast and Vonage, Part 2

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After two months of intermittent phone problems with the unholy duo of Vonage and Comcast I tweeted my displeasure.

Comcast tweeted back (on Christmas day!), suggesting that they might have a line problem and would test it out.

Today I get a call from a Comcast tech. I didn’t catch his name because I was jumping out of the shower to answer the phone, but he was calling from an east Bay area code.

He explains that the problem I’m having is because Vonage doesn’t work with Comcast. Vonage, he says, is an analog line and won’t work on Comcast internet because Comcast is a digital internet connection. His solution? Start using Comcast’s phone service, since it’s 100% digital.

Dumbfounded, I explain to him how voice over IP really works. I point out that there’s no such thing as an "analog internet" and a "digital internet." He then tries to tell me that 100% of every phone conversation, on both ends, is 100% digital with Comcast. So I explain the PSTN and how every call, unless it’s between two Comcast subscribers, will eventually pass over the phone network. And that once the call gets inside the caller’s house, the signal is converted to analog since phones are analog.

I ask him why the service works fine on AT&T DSL. He tells me that he used to be an AT&T tech and that AT&T service is analog, so that’s why Vonage would work.

At this point, there’s not a chance that I’ll believe anything this idiot tells me. He’s lost all credibility.

Finally, I ask him why Comcast and Vonage would announce they’re working together if Vonage was fundamentally incompatible with Comcast. The tech tells me that it’s not true that they’re working together. He’s seen the story on message boards and blogs, but it’s not real. There aren’t any credible publications that reported it. You know, like the Wall Street Journal. Or Comcast’s own press release on the matter.

I started with a positive reaction to Comcast. @comcastcares did a fantastic job of responding to my issue and getting a resolution started. But this single tech was either stupid or lying and blew Comcast’s credibility.

The only choices for broadband at my house is Comcast. But I’m carefully watching other providers and the moment they offer service, I’m switching. I won’t use a company who messes with my packets if I have a choice.

ComcastCares
December 26, 2008 10:42 AM

I agree the information provided on the call by this person was incorrect. The trouble you are having is most likely due to the receive power level at negative 3.1. This would cause exact issues such as this. It would also require a tech to come out. This is the reason it was sent to a local person to correct and schedule. According to them you stated you were not interested in having a tech out. I would say this would be necessary from what I am seeing in the data. I apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you! Frank Eliason Comcast

Adam Kalsey
December 26, 2008 11:13 AM

They didn't exactly try and schedule a call. They called and tried to sell me phone service. When I resisted, they said they could send someone out, but there's nothing wrong with my line and the solution was to get rid of Vonage. I told the rep that if Comcast was planning on blocking packets belonging to competing services, I'd be looking for a new provider. He did tell me several times that since I seem to know it all, there's nothing he can do to help. I'm afraid that since he insisted on claiming as fact things that were ust plain wrong, it made it hard for me to listen to anything he had to say. I'd love to have a tech out.

KK
January 22, 2009 9:39 PM

I had a similar experience with my comcast business service, except the tech actually came out. All was fine with Vonage and Comcast until early December. Then, all heck broke loose. The modem dies 3 or 4 times a day with no load. After five minutes of traffic load (downloading an ISO image), it will roll over. The response time for every 5th ping spikes off the chart, which kills voip. Things are fine for a half hour after the modem reboots, then deteriorates. The tech on the phone reviewed the history of the modem rolling over and said that she thought it was faulty hardware. When the tech (contractor) came out, I unfortunately mentioned that I typically noticed the issue first because the Vonage dialtone would be dead. He wasn't very interested in looking at the modem, but he thought I needed Comcast phone service. He went on to say that he would get a commission if he could pass my name along to a sales rep. He power cycled the modem, said "see its working now", and left. Today, I signed up for DSL.

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