I'm back after more than two days struggling with my Verizon DSL broadband Internet connection. Last Tuesday, Verizon did some "scheduled maintenance" that they knew would knock some customers off their network. Of course there was no prior notice.

The big ISPs are notoriously cagey about the technical details of their networks. Verizon limits the outflow of meaningful technical info by limiting customer contact to technicians will little or no technical background (most of the 8 Verizon folks I talked to couldn't tell the difference between an IP address and a MAC address). Ultimately I was left with, "our circuit works when it's connected to your computer, but not with your router - call your router vendor," but no explanation why DHCP no longer worked with my router.

Even though my router (a nifty model with 4 ports, 802.11a/b/g and firewall) is almost 2 years old, Netgear helped me resolved my problem in just a couple hours. (I had to download a new version of firmware.) I had to pay Netgear $30 for 30 minutes of support, and as expected, the tech was very knowledgable.

The exact nature of this maintenance is still a mystery.  One Verizon agent told me they were in the process of tying DSL connections to computer MAC addresses for "security" reasons -- something about spammers.  Another rep told me it was because customers were leading too many IP addresses. They ended up having to re-provision my DSL circuit.

Now I'm looking at Comcast, for Internet access and VoIP phone service. They have a nice conversion promo for DSL customers...

UPDATE: Verizon called me twice yesterday (Thursday) to remind me that their circuit is up, and today they had a computer call once again to brag about their success. Note to vendors: how a customer feels they've been treated is more important than the eventual outcome. Comcast is looking just as attractive today is they did when my service was down.