Probably most of the regular readers of my blog have noticed that I am unusually inactive recently. With only 1 post since 27 February, this is by far the worst period for me in terms of writing productivity. The reasons for this are complex, but I want to stress on one in particular that is so significant that it is practically affecting my entire business – the Internet.
My wife and me moved to a new condo about 6 months ago. Although I have office space that I rent monthly, I go there very occasionally for meetings and training with my team, and there isn’t even constant Internet access there. In 99% of the time I work from home, so the move meant that I also moved my office. Unfortunately, it became clear very soon (a few days before the move) that it might be a problem to find a good quality Internet provider that covers the condo. Don’t get me wrong – the building is well within the boundaries of the second largest city in Malaysia – Johor Bahru, and is in probably the fastest developing regions of the city. In Malaysia, the telecommunications business is almost entirely monopolized by the national telecommunications company – Telekom Malaysia (TM). They provide the highest quality broadband Internet, and are practically the only provider of fiber-optic Internet (the other major Internet provider uses TM’s infrastructure to offer their fiber-optic Internet service). Unfortunately, at the time of our move, TM was not covering the condo (although they covered almost every other building in the neighborhood). I asked a few different representatives if they know about any plans for the condo to be covered. All replied negatively. There were only two options left – P1 and Yes. I had heard equally bad things about both, but as P1 had a 1-week charge-free test period, I tried them first. The Internet quality was awful and the speed was very far from the promised. I requested for cancellation within the 1-week period, when it turned out that: 1) it was not really completely charge-free, and 2) it was not really one week, but more like 3 working days. However, I managed to somehow cancel my subscription and was left with only one option – Yes.
Yes has relatively positive reputation when it comes to mobile Internet, but they don’t seem to be that good at providing home online access. Additionally, the minimum contract option was 2 years. I had a lot of doubts since the beginning, but I had no choice – I signed the contract and was promised (max) 20Mbps speed with maximum data usage per month… 10GB. This was the biggest data plan they offer and the cost was RM168 per month (~US$55). Obviously, the data was not enough for me, although I was trying to save from everything – no YouTube watching, no matches watching online, no excessive browsing. I was forced to purchase add-ons called “superboosters”, with the biggest add-on being 3.6GB at RM55 (~US$18). On average, I had to purchase 2 such add-ons per month, which means that I was paying ~US$90 per month for 17GB of home Internet data per month at a maximum speed of 20Mbps. The average speed I was able to get was around 8-9MbpS. Doesn’t sound like the best deal, huh? On top of it all, I was unable to do online calls, because the Internet was apparently not up for it and it was going down practically every 30 seconds while I was talking using Skype. This practically ruined my consultation business. Additionally, I was unable to pick the phone (my US phone number is attached to Skype) for many potential clients, so my overall business drastically decreased.
There was hope, though. TM started offering their service for our condo about 1 week (!!!) after I subscribed to Yes. Of course I started trying to cancel my contract with Yes as soon as I learned about this, but there was one tiny problem – the cancellation clause in the contract stated that the penalty fee was equal to the fees for the whole withstanding period of the contract. This meant that I had to pay RM3,500+ in order to cancel (~US$1150). I made about 150 to 200 complaint calls to Yes, almost always demanding to talk with a manager, and I managed to get one only on 2 occasions. The second one was my success – the manager agreed to make a deal with me and I had to pay “just” RM 600 for the cancellation (~US200). This happened 5 months after my first complaint. Overall cost for my calls was about RM200. As the cancellation was not confirmed until the last moment, I had to wait for the final approval before I contacted TM. When I finally did, I sorrowfully learned that the waiting period for TM’s Internet to be installed is 1 week. Of course Yes switched off my Internet access immediately after the cancellation was confirmed, so for 1 week I had no Internet access.
1 week later, I finally had good quality Internet after almost half a year of struggle. Everything was perfectly fine (even suspiciously perfectly fine, I’d say) for about half a month until just two weeks ago. My Internet started switching off and switching on without any obvious reason. I started digging for information and discovered that per government order the Internet should have been cut off for people that read politically-related content – this was related to the general elections in Malaysia that took place on May 5. As a person coming from Bulgaria, a country where democracy is nothing more than a textbook term, this was not a major surprise for me. However, what really amazed me and was the final drop to making me write this article was what happened last Wednesday (May 8).
I was working as normal in the nice morning when suddenly the Internet went off. I was thinking it was again something related to the above mentioned issue, but when the Internet never came back for more than an hour I understood something was wrong. All my attempts to restore the connection were also in vain. I called TM and after attempting to fix the problem distantly, their technician came on Thursday afternoon. He performed a few checks and stated that the problem was not with TM, but with the building’s wiring. I called the building maintenance and the guy responsible for the wiring came to check what was wrong. In the meantime the TM technician was gone. After double-checking, the building maintenance rep said there was no problem with the wiring. After a few more calls to TM and to the building management where everyone was pushing the blame to the other, they decided to leave it for Friday as their working day was over. Unfortunately, on Friday my wife and me had a scheduled trip to Kuala Lumpur, because we had to verify some legal documents (legal matters are hard when the two countries have (almost) no diplomatic relationships). When we were back on Sunday, the issue was still there. Obviously, nobody worked on a Sunday, and that is when we come to today (Monday, May 13). Another TM technician came in the morning and came to the same conclusion – the problem didn’t lie with TM. I called the maintenance guy and made them both go to the building manager. He made them double-check each part of the telecommunication infrastructure of the building and after 3 hours – they finally fixed the problem! My Internet was back and everything was as it used to be. I had enormous pile of work to finish, including a lot of overdue tasks. Half an hour later, when I was just getting started, it happened again – the Internet went down and the model was back to the dreaded stage where it was showing “no DSL connection.” Right now I am waiting for the TM technician to come back.
P.S. If you wonder how I wrote this article – I used my mobile 3G data, which gives me an average broadband speed of 500Kbps.