The No Net, No TV Challenge

by on April 19, 2008

For the past two weeks, and coincidentally at exactly the same time as my family have been away, I have had no Internet access, and very little TV reception at home.

I count myself as a pretty intense Internet user (although I watch very little TV), so was interested to see what would happen without any connectivity. This was not by choice of course, but due to a problem with my Tiscali (formerly Homechoice) set top box, which for some reason Tiscali took 13 days to sort out.

I find broadband hell stories boring, so I won’t recount the Kafaka-esque experience that made me feel as though I was living in a Stalinist dictatorship, but let’s just say that my survival tactic was… philosophy. As I write this, I am on hold to Tiscali support to sort out a couple of things and I note the timer on the handset has just gone past 48 minutes. I normally hang up at 60, while most calls are answered by 40. None have been answered before 20 and my record for them is 88. Until being migrated to Tiscali in response to my Homechoice STB going wrong, I had received exemplary service and almost no problems at all from Homechoice for almost four years. Their purchase by Tiscali speaks volumes to me about market consolidation, but that’s another story.

So, what did I do of an evening when I came back from work? Firstly, I had my somewhat flaky Showcentre200 with some nice films to watch on it. I also had some music. And I had some books. I had some cooking (but found this uninspiring alone) and I had my filing cabinet to sort out.

I still went insane though. If it happens again, I will not be responsible for my actions.


I look forward to the day when wired data connections are a thing of the past and domestic net access is a utility enjoyed in the same way as gas or electricity. WiMax makes this a possibility at least, and would abolish the BT Wholesale monopoly over the local loop, make switching providers almost instantaneous. Whether it fits in to the ISP’s current long term strategy of getting a slice of media revenues is another matter though.

Market consolidation, price fixing, quasi-monopolies, monoplies, the tax payer having to bale out British banks because they had no idea (really?)the nature of the bonds they were buying from the US (while paying out record bonuses), the tax payer again paying through the NHS / nose for a poorly regulated food industry, the coincidence that the poor subjugated people of Iraq have potentially the biggest oil reserves in the world. Who says capitalism ain’t fine and dandy?

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