Mobile payments

Hotspots solving a problem to boil the blood

Connecting to a mobile device is nice but Billy MacInnes wishes it wasn't necessary
Image Anete Lusina via Pexels

1 April 2024

Hotspots are great, aren’t they?

I can testify to just how useful they are having used my personal hotspot for the past two weeks. As someone who works from home, I can really appreciate being able to use my laptop to work online via my iPhone.

I can safely say, however, that I didn’t really want to be in a position where I had to be quite so grateful to that capability.




But something happened to a pole on our road and a cable seems to have become dislodged and then well, suddenly, no one had any broadband. That was on or around 11 March.

As someone who works online from home, I soon noticed that something wasn’t right. After waiting a couple of hours to see if it might be corrected, I decided it was time to call my provider, eir in this case, to ask what was happening.

The person in technical support confirmed there was a fault and it would be fixed within two days. Which is when I started relying on a personal hotspot to stay online and keep working. It wasn’t just work, however. All our entertainment was reliant on broadband too so we had to use the hotspot to stream music, TV and films.

Three days later, there was still no broadband so I rang eir again. I was informed that eir was waiting on the pole and it couldn’t be replaced until 22 March. It could then take up to three days before everything was back to normal. With the weekend, that meant normal service might not be resumed until 27 March.

Well, 22 March came and went and the damaged pole was still there, leaning askew, so I called again. At that point, eir couldn’t really provide any more information because it was waiting for Open eir (eir’s wholesale provider) to get back with a new date. So I left it a few days and then called again on 28 March. Good news. There was a new date for the pole to be replaced: 5 April. I laughed. With the extra three days leeway for things to be up and running, that meant it could be 10 April before broadband was restored on our road. More than four weeks after I’d first reported it.

And that’s assuming the pole isn’t delayed again. Judging by past evidence, that might not be the safest assumption to make.

So thank the lord for personal hotspots. More importantly, thank the lord for unlimited mobile data because, without it, personal hotspots have only limited usefulness. But it does make me wonder if there are people on this road who are going to be dramatically restricted because they don’t have unlimited mobile data.

For those cases, eir recommended going to a shop, signing up for its mobile broadband and then asking for a refund once fixed broadband had been restored based on the fact it was only being used to substitute for eir’s inability to continue supply fixed line broadband.

That seems quite a circuitous route to have to take.

Anyway, all of this brings me back to the National Broadband Plan, published in December 2015, where Alex White, Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, wrote: “The National Broadband Plan recognises for the first time that quality broadband is a utility that is just as important as electricity.”

Nine years later, it’s hard to take that kind of talk seriously, when it can take four weeks to replace a wonky pole and restore fixed line broadband supply.

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