Superfast Internet in limbo for weeks
The phrase “Internet Hell” is a slogan to give fair warning to users of the Internet in Costa Rica.
The phrase also offers consolation to all who experience difficulties with the Internet here. Most expats in this country could write this piece themselves, each with his or her own twist.
High technology is wonderful. The Internet is wonderful. But there is a dark side. Computers and the Internet play with basic physiological buttons in everyone. They are very similar to nasty additive drugs.
Costa Rica delivers Internet to users via three basic means: Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., Costa Rica’s Internet monopoly, known to many as Dante’s assistant on earth, ISDN, the local phone company’s version of Internet access, also known to the few who have it as the devil’s assistant on earth, and a more sinister ADSL, worse than the Satan himself. ADSL is slowly going to creep into every ones life. The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE, has promised to launch the ADSL service countrywide this year, thereby becoming a major competitor to its RACSA subsidary.
ADSL is wonderful. That is the problem. When one gets used to instant gratification, instant communication, online movies and no barriers of any kind on the Internet, there is no hope for sanity ever again.
The problem is that without warning, ADSL stops working, all of a sudden, with no explanation from the powers that be. Now, more frequently, there is just a void. No Internet, no communications, nothing is left but a dumb computer screen to stare at. The need to make contact with someone again, using the computer, starts building in the psyche. Complete insanity is a certainty.
Where does one find a virgin to sacrifice to one of Costa Rica’s volcanoes to fix the problem? This solution is hard to realize in this country, about as impossible as calling someone who should know what is going on, someone who knows how to fix a problem with the service.
Ads are all over the media in Costa Rica that ADSL will soon be available without a prescription to all that want this powerful drug. There is no antidote to this euphoria producing technological advance.
However, for the past two weeks, all those in Costa Rica’s pilot program of advanced internet, ADSL, have had serious problems. The country is installing systems, relays, server clusters and infrastructure everywhere to give everyone who wants it access to the service.
However, basic DNS resolution is not working. DNS means Domain Name System (or Service). DNS translates alphabetic domain names into numeric IP addresses. For example, the domain http://www.amcostarica.com translates to 188.8.131.52. Computers do not talk to each other with words or letters but with numbers. DNS is like an address book that a computer needs to go to in order to find another computer. If DNS is not working, computers are lost.
The BIG problem is that the bosses at ICE installing ADSL care nothing about the poor subscribers and tell them nothing about what is going on. Costa Rica is basing the whole implementation of advanced Internet in Costa Rica on putting out fires. However, when you call to report a fire, no one really wants to know about it. The latest trick is changing support numbers frequently so no one can report problems.
To those with perseverance, it is possible to fish out the support people in hiding. Now the best part…. When you find one, they have absolutely no clue on how the system should work.
Hundreds of thousands of emails to and from people in Costa Rica have been lost to cyberspace. More importantly, many have not even been able to send e-mail or connect to Web sites. Hotmail, MSN and other important services had just not worked for periods of up to days.
If ICE is going to hook the country on Internet, super fast Internet, offering spontaneous communications, and instant gratification, it needs to work!