Last year I decided to port one of the land line numbers over to our telephony providers. I saw no reason to continue paying for a land line that we no longer needed. So once the appropriate paperwork was provided to VoicePulse, it took roughly 1-2 weeks to port the number to our SIP trunk. This was the easy part of the whole evolution; however, getting AT&T to flawlessly execute the "Dry Loop" request was quite the adventure and certainly fraught with peril.
For the benefit of those of you who are not familiar with Dry Loop, DSL providers generally sell packages which couple Internet and POTS together. Apparently, through consumer pressure or some other vehicle AT&T now provides consumers with ability to decouple Internet from POTS. Which works great for us, since we had already ported the PSTN over to VoicePulse. Well, I specifically requested that the we wanted to retain our static IP addresses and that we did not wish to have our Internet service interrupted during the Dry Loop conversion. So, as a precaution AT&T decided to setup the Dry Loop circuit in parallel to the existing DSL circuit, so that there would be no possibility of an outage. Obviously the downside to this is cost, but I was happy to pay for two accounts provided that there would be no interruption of service. Our problems began when we authorized the interruption of the existing DSL. For whatever reason, the static IP addresses that were linked to the existing DSL did not get transferred. Of course this was unacceptable and drew my ire, as this played havoc on our Asterisk box. Our phone system is our lifeblood of our organization and it is essential that we not have outages.
To my chagrin, immediately after the existing DSL circuit was disabled we experienced an outage which spanned the majority of the business day. None of the AT&T representatives could explain why they did not honor the request to retain the static IP address, particularly since my request was made nearly 4 weeks prior to the Dry Loop circuit activation. Suffice to say that I was seething. I tried in vane to reclaim the static IP addresses, but eventually opted to punt and move on. Then there was another matter to irritate me. Apparently, after the initial mess got sorted out, charges were still accruing despite suspending the existing DSL service. I wasted no time telling the accounting folks that I did not intend to pay anything further on that account. Especially due to the fact that AT&T account representatives suggested that I not kill the DSL service until after the Dry Loop circuit had been established. Well it took a couple of weeks appealing to them, but they eventually relented and removed the late charges and other fees associated with the additional DSL. I have no idea why the communication was so poor with AT&T. It almost appeared that the billing departments or 3rd level support simply did not communicate with engineering. In fact, I believe that 3rd level support was based in SouthEast Asia somewhere. I suppose this would explain the problems that I experienced.
Unfortunately, there really aren't many other DSL providers in our region, as most have disappeared due to the regional economy and the Internet bubble. Additionally, AT&T now has the most leverage due to their sheer size and capacity. I am not looking forward to our next move, as AT&T will again be providing Internet resources.