Internet Odyssey

a bundle of ethernet cablesI’m back!

After an incredible dry spell of 44 days  I have finally been connected to the internet again last Saturday. And thanks to a friend of mine who beat the router into submission on Sunday morning, I can now go online again. Oh wide wide world, how I missed you!

Of course, you’re now asking yourselves what on earth can possibly take 44 days before one can get internet. And that in a rather large city in a country that is rightfully called the high-tech haven of the planet. Well, enjoy the drama as you read on…

When I signed the rental contract for the apartment, the agent asked me whether I’d need help finding an internet provider and a moving company. I said yes to the internet provider, as apparently, not all providers serve all areas, and it may be difficult to find out which one is the correct one for your address.

Act the first: “Mr. Y. and the emails”
On the day of my move, I received an email with an offer from what I thought was an internet company. After clarifying that I wanted a flatrate for down- and upload and two separate phone numbers, I sent them the necessary documents for the application, stressing yet again that I do not have a mobile phone.

After not hearing anything for a week from my contact person Mr. Y. (I went to the library to go online), I inquired on a Saturday afternoon about the state of my application. Within 10 minutes or so I received an email back saying: “Well, you don’t have a mobile phone.” Oh really Mr. Brilliant, I told you so in my last email, and the rental agent told you even before that. Did you assume a mobile number would just magically manifest itself if you stared at my application for long enough?

We then had some tedious back-and-forth over several emails and several days and at the end even Mr. Y. saw the light and said that it would be stupid to call me anyway as I don’t speak Japanese. We then agreed that I could use the phone number of a friend of mine who would help me with the application. In fact, it would be best if my friend could directly call Mr. M. – who was fully up to date on my application and its issues – in their call centre

Act the second: “The call centre”
So, my friend calls Mr. M. at the call centre. Everything ran smoothly until my friend had to produce – as proof that he is indeed talking on my behalf – my birth date, of which he did not know the year. When he finally had mustered the courage to ask me for it (you can’t really ask a lady for her age…), he tried calling Mr. M. again to finalise the application.

Unfortunately, by the time I could respond, Mr. M. had left the building and somebody completely different took the call. Said person was completely unhappy about my inability to produce a mobile phone of my own and after getting angry and running to his boss and making him angry too, he completely refused any further service, told us he cannot complete the application, and hung up. By then my friend was angry too.

First interlude: “between companies”
It turned out that we were not talking to the internet provider after all. My friend and I were talking to some sort of upstream marketing company who tries to attract new customers for the internet providers in return for a financial kickback. So, my friend decided to directly call NTT, the largest internet provider in Kyoto.

Act the third: “No, we don’t.”
When my friend called them to ask for internet connection at my apartment, NTT said they would not provide any service at that address. It’s a bit complicated to explain, so please stay with me. There are essentially two types of internet wiring: The family type if you have a house of your own, which more or less means that you get your very own cable, and the mansion type for apartment buildings. Obviously I would need the latter, but NTT said they do not provide mansion type access at my building.

Second interlude: “And you?”
So, we decided to use whatever provider has their mansion type cables in place. It is possible to install family type cables in an apartment building as well, but it’s a bit ridiculous to get your own cable up to the fifth floor… So, I knocked on my neighbor’s door with some tough questions, and it turned out that his provider is: NTT! Apparently there is a family type cable installed already, and it is easy to simply extend it to my own apartment.

Act the fourth: “We do, really?”
Back on the phone with NTT, they were really surprised that they indeed did provide a cable in my building. Finally, a Ms. N. agreed to process my application with my friend’s phone number.

Once all the paperwork was submitted and deemed all right – it is really hard to send faxes of color photographs… – it took another 10 days for NTT to review the application and check whether it was indeed deemed possible to add yet another cable. After those 10 days we finally had the date on which a technician would come and install internet, another two weeks after that.

The technician came last Saturday at the appointed time, and it took him about two hours to lay a brand new shiny optical cable into my apartment and get the router in place. However, even though I had received plenty of paper with plenty of different passwords, I could not get access on Saturday immediately. Even though the status said “connected”, all I could see were error messages… Thanks to my friend, who is patience incorporated and knew just how to talk to the router, we finally set it up yesterday morning.

So far my personal internet odyssey. Since its completion and my return to a safe online-harbour I have been busy catching up on all those emails I have received in the last month and other things I usually do when online. Funny how you never notice how much time you really spend on the internet…