Bonded DSL, part 5: Reliability, support and Eclipse Sentinel

For the first time since I got my Eclipse bonded DSL package back in January, I had an outage last night. There are a number of reasons this is significant, which I’ll go into briefly below.

Firstly, it came as a surprise – and that is more significant than you might think. Until that point, I had enjoyed trouble and glitch free broadband for almost four months.

I’d lived at my current address for several years before I hooked up with this Eclipse package and had enjoyed (well, endured) broadband from two different suppliers in that time. I won’t name names, but it was two of the six biggest ISPs in the UK – and not the ones you would particularly associate with poor service.

What was the same with both were semi-regular issues. These had been nothing particularly serious – the odd internet-less evening here or there, or a duff router/splitter that had to be replaced – but when you work from home as I do, it’s still the difference between a good and a bad day.

Then, of course, you’ve got the dreaded call to customer services or worse, shivers, tech support. I’ve become reasonably adept now at getting past the big ISP’s ‘line one’ defence – those poor guys sat in an office in a nice warm country getting paid peanuts to read a script while we grit our teeth and growl at them. But even when you do get to someone who might be able to help, when you’re in an old ADSL exchange like mine you can almost guarantee the response – a long sigh and a big finger pointed at BT, before they’ve even looked into your issue.

This is, of course, because they’re using BT’s gear and not their own – fair enough, to a point, but not very helpful to the customer on the end of the line and hardly a glowing call to arms for when you’re looking to renew or upgrade your broadband when your contract runs out.

So, my surprise was that my internet had gone down – a new feeling for me, and one I liked. But when you’re paying a premium for bonded DSL, you come to expect it – there are several broadband lines coming into your home at once, essentially independently while adding their speeds together. This means that if one router or line goes down, but the others are still up, you’re still getting broadband. In addition, we’re not talking bottom of the line routers here either – this is good tech.

But moving on, after the surprise came calm – another relatively new experience when dealing with a broadband issue. And the reason? I wasn’t scared to call support. Having dealt with them with a couple of small instillation issues, I was pretty confident I was going to talk to someone who not only listened, but wouldn’t have a script. In the end though, I just went to bed – I can worry about it in the morning, right? Again, the fact I could sleep spoke a thousand words.

So up I get today and, low and behold, it’s up and running again. This may be down to Eclipse’s ‘Sentinel’ technology which it uses to monitor and identify issues across its network of customers and try to get them sorted before we have to pick up the phone. Better still, this software is made available to businesses (for a fee) that sign up to have Eclipse put into multiple different sites throughout its company so they can monitor their own network too – giving email or text alerts for the likes of network failures, sync rates and intermittency.

I’m sounding pretty gushing, I know, but what can I say? You wouldn’t turn a hair if I was doing this about the new iPad, so why about a broadband supplier? I’d guess it’s because good news isn’t overly common with these experiences. But for now, I make no apologies – this has been great and long may that continue. Right up until it al goes wrong, of course…