Archive for the ‘Dominican Internet’ Category
Friday, August 11, 2006
In Boca Chica television services can be served up via an aerial antenna picking up the dozen or so Dominican terrestrial channels, via satellite beamed in from the USA or by cable provided by ‘Economitel’.
Economitel has certainly served us well over the last few years and it seems as though they are planning to maintain if not improve their level of service and have even, with us at least, lived up to the economization implied by the company name, though it did happen in a round about kind of way.
The company is very local indeed serving just Boca Chica, Andres and Caleta… and small though they are they do offer a full range of approximately 70 channels with about a dozen in English and one in each of French, Italian and German. We have been paying for three connections since the time the company established itself more than 5 years ago and paying what we thought to be a very reasonable 850 pesos (about US$26) per month for this service. In July we suddenly received a bill for 1200 pesos without any prior notification of increases whatsoever. We naturally enquired of the company what this was all about, when we next time visited their office. They actually had a couple of posters up indicating that prices had been raised because they already had started increasing, and would continue to increase, the number of channels supplied and that new codified digital set-top boxes would be provided in August to further upgrade the quality of their service, although those who had maintained their accounts would not be charged for these boxes.
We noted that the standard price increase was 25%, tax included, and immediately wondered why ours was closer to a whopping 50% hike. It soon became clear that they had re-categorized our usage as fully commercial, but it didn’t take us long to put two and two together and realize that if we presented our factual residential credentials then the price would naturally fall. Those credentials were verified the next day by a couple of technicians who didn’t hesitate to classify our current use as indeed purely residential.
A few days later and the front desk administrator, now with discernible reluctance, –presumably motivated by her boss who she kept on talking to in low murmurs over the phone while we “negotiated” with her – slowly recognized that she really would have to lower the tariff in line with their own very clear regulations. The final result would now be a monthly 650 pesos -a worthwhile economy of 200 pesos- and far removed from the original starting point of 1200 pesos. We couldn’t tell what the boss was muttering to himself behind his glass screen as we bid them all a good day on leaving… but for some reason he didn’t seem quite as pleased as us.
Anyway… the future certainly holds bright for Economitel if they continue to offer the considerate economy options to their long-term customers as presented to us and also introduce an alternative internet service before the end of the year as they claim they will.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
“If they really have got WiFi at Playa Vista, then it is time to get back to Boca Chica”… said a self-confessed ardent follower of our blog renderings to himself back in New York last week. He promptly bought himself a plane ticket, packed his laptop and hopped on the flight. His NASDAQ trading he finds he can manage just as effectively alongside the azure-blue Caribbean Ocean from within the Playa Vista bar establishment, and although he is away from his familiar New York surroundings he is adamant that his new “office” environment at the bar has a number of redeeming features!
We are pleased to note that he follows hard on the heels of other very satisfied users from that North American cradle of leading-edge high-tech adoption and they all find the speed and effectiveness we offer on a par with their usual services back home – some more credit points to Verizon!
Why don’t you bring your laptop with you and check out if ‘setting up office’ within the Playa Vista router territory in the perpetual June climate of Boca Chica by any chance should be just your style!
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Every cloud has its silver lining. The cloud, if you should remember reading our blog of 08/04/05, was the frustrating delay we experienced when we finally made our move and asked Verizon to take us into the modern world with a high-speed DSL internet connection. The silver lining is now double layered for we remain not only as pleased as ever with this new service but we are also able to announce laptop friendly WiFi connections anywhere within the Playa Vista territory including the sunbeds on the beach! This service – that finally scatters away the remains of the cloud and lets the sun shine through – is available to all good Playa Vista customers free of charge and is made possible by the kind sponsorship of DR1, via their donation of a wireless broadband router and the installation skills of good old Rob.
Friday, April 8, 2005
So… it was a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) internet connection with a new line that we wanted… and after a bit of a tour, as you will see if you persevere here, we did in fact get!
A swift piece of research revealed that Boca Chica does have Tricom as a fixed-line option but this particular company does not offer any kind of internet service, so… in spite of the breaking of the Verizon (Codetel) monopoly, here in Boca Chica, we remain wholly at the mercy of Verizon as internet service provider for now. With that fact established we were presented with a number of options to go for on our new venture with the new www connection – known by the dynamism-inspiring name of ‘Flash’ – details available, in line with modern ways, either on the Verizon web page or by calling the Verizon call center.
Unfortunately we did not get off to a very ‘flashy’ start because right from the beginning we were told in no uncertain manner that anybody requesting a new line must have a credit card! That was certainly not the case in the past and a very strange request we thought, particularly in a country where it is a minority of people who possess such a luxury. After two more phone calls and several telephone assistants later it was grudgingly acknowledged that we could after all pass directly on to having a personal evaluation… if a cedula (personal identification) number was provided. The evaluation department called a few days later, when for once we were absent, and on calling Verizon the next day the assistant boldly announced that when the new line applicant is not locatable after a single call… the entire enquiry is dropped! The company’s presumed expertise in communication doesn’t appear to extend to leaving a call back number or even calling again! Blimey, we had to start from scratch and request the evaluation procedure all over again. A number of days later when they called us back, we were ever so fortuitously on the premises and even able to deal with the incoming call on the spot. The evaluator had a standard questionnaire including matters such as personal income and in general wanted information that we immediately deemed to be too private to offer up merely for the installation of a new telephone line, especially as at the same address we of course have a long standing standard account which has always punctually been paid every month for upwards of six years. Thankfully at this point we experienced a kind of miraculous quantum leap when suddenly without further ado the evaluator came completely around and stated that we very soon would be called by somebody for the installation process to commence. Flash was truly beckoning now, because after the promised call and within the promised 1 to 10 days the basic line was efficiently and correctly installed actually by a company sub-contracted to Verizon.
We now thought we were virtually home and dry just needing the DSL internet connection to be linked up according to procedure, because we had of course right at the outset ordered one new line with a side order of DSL. However, the line-installation technician sowed the first seed of doubt concerning a flashy finish, when he stated that the DSL connection was a completely separate matter! It was so separate it hadn’t even been registered that we required the internet service when making that ground-breaking forward jump with the evaluator!
Therefore in reluctant obedience to Verizon’s practices we again had to place our order for the DSL service. Numerous phone calls from our side revealed varying attitudes to this new situation from various Verizon employees. The majority though were of the opinion that, in spite of our repeatedly placed order for the infamous DSL link, it was not possible to request the internet facility until the full processing of the line installation had been completed… which clearly in Verizon’s eyes meant something far more than an up and running line, because each time we contacted the dear old company we were communicating without any trouble whatsoever on this very line. Finally, after innumerable calls on the perfectly working new line, one of the representatives kindly explained that this separation was necessary in order for us to qualify for the special offer of free installation that currently applied. Good one Verizon… clearly, we liked the ‘free’ sound, but the question, “Why the great separation?” still hangs in the air.
Anyway…the requisite number of days passed, the request for DSL service was finally registered and accepted and we were given a code number which allowed us to visit the central office in Santo Domingo where you get the rare opportunity to talk face to face with Verizon staff and pick up your internet modem kit. This little maneuver allows you to carry out the auto-installation for RD$600 (US$20) less than the cost of asking for a real live representative to visit you. The kit was tucked under an arm, returned home and installed in a jiffy. After that happy brief interlude of speedy accomplishments and personal contact we now had to return to the bad old habits of repeated phone calls to try and move us to the end game.
The first of a new series of calls revealed that between 1 and 7 working days the modem line would be opened. Meanwhile a friendly chat with a valued acquaintance, actually close to the very heart of DR1, concluded that all they have to do at the Verizon end is “flick a switch” in order to open up service on the new modem. At Verizon they were regrettably adamantly opposed to “just” flicking that switch, because in spite of receiving a promising call on a new day 3 from a representative in the data-department where a guy told us he would call us right back after checking the line and knowing that all was properly installed at our end… he didn’t! Nobody did! The following day we took the initiative again and called to ask what was happening. Dramatically, the appeasing story of “completion between 1 and 7 working days” now focused exclusively on the 7! As we got very near to day 7 the Verizon representative clearly felt squeezed by the egg timer rapidly running out of descending granules and emphatically announced that by 8 am on day 7 – if we still didn’t have service – we “officially” would be able to phone up and claim that the company had not complied with their promises. At 8.30 am on day 7 the representative – always a different one and thereby amply abetting the discontinuity – made a temporal recalculation and offered that we could call after 3.45 pm because that now would, after the improvised new calculation, be 7 full working days. Lo and behold – by 3.45 the long awaited green lamp on the modem signaling an open line remained just as subdued as it had always done!
The next phone call of ours duly acknowledged that 7 completely and entirely full working days had passed and that we now could have a ‘numero de reclamacion’ (complaints number) to pronounce on any subsequent calls we might wish to make. The memory bells were jangling with this ‘numero de reclamacion’, because we had been precisely in the same place the last time we had the “Verizon blues” as explained in our blog posting of Aug 31, 2003… you could even call it a ‘flash’ back. Nothing could be done on that passing seventh day but the next day, unflinchingly with the empowering complaints number in hand, we called again. “Yes, the connection is still under review,” the representative this time said. “Absolutely at maximum just another two days to complete the job,” the optimistic representative continued… “Only two more processes to go!” Hmm… we thought that switch-flicking was only one process!
As a pleasant surprise we got a phone call from Verizon on the ninth day, a very nice phone call actually, whereby an amiable member of the personnel called to innocently ask what our problem was! Extraordinary, with all the phone calls we had made and all the computer tracking systems in operation she really didn’t know! Well… patiently we told her and she thanked us politely and said she would investigate and hopefully somebody would open the line the following day! Which indeed somebody surprisingly did! So with patience and a little help from a long row of willing but team-wise not very flashing Verizon staff we did get there in the end.
Was it worth all the effort? Unreservedly yes. Our Flash connection works like a dream and has already proven to be indispensable working up to 7 times faster than the old dial-up service at 384 Kbps. The satisfaction is matched only by the new-found contentment of being freed from the tedious habit of calling Verizon on a daily basis for the last month!