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Networking Businesses Television Technology

The 'Cable Guy' Now a Network Specialist 235

Hugh Pickens writes "Amy Chozick reports that cable guys, long depicted as slovenly cranks who dodged growling dogs and tracked mud on the living room carpet, often have backgrounds in engineering and computer science and certifications in network engineering. 'Back in my day, you called the phone company, we hooked it up, gave you a phone book and left,' says Paul Holloway, a 30-year employee of Verizon, which offers phone, Internet, television and home monitoring services through its FiOS fiber optic network. 'These days people are connecting iPhones, Xboxes and 17 other devices in the home.' The surge in high-tech offerings comes at a critical time for cable companies in an increasingly saturated Internet-based market where growth must come from all the extras like high-speed Internet service, home security, digital recording devices and other high-tech upgrades. 'They should really change the name to Time Warner Internet,' says Quirino Madia, a supervisor for Time Warner Cable. 'Nine out of 10 times, that's all people care about.' Despite their enhanced stature and additional responsibilities, technicians haven't benefited much financially. The median hourly income in 2010 for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $55,600 annually, up only 0.4 percent from 2008."
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The 'Cable Guy' Now a Network Specialist

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  • Not comcast (Score:5, Funny)

    by bigtrike ( 904535 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:43PM (#38556944)

    Last time I had a comcast tech out to fix my cable modem, I had to show them how to use ping.

    • by mrclisdue ( 1321513 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:52PM (#38557012)

      Good work on your part.

      He showed up at my place shortly after, and I showed him how to use LOIC as a tool to check the comcast servers.

      Next time, I'll show him how to speed up his PC and search for Nigerian princes.


      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 )

        Next time, I'll show him how to speed up his PC and search for Nigerian princes.

        Cut the guy a break - and show him how to search for Nigerian princesses. It sounds like he'll be a "stay-at-home" spouse soon.

    • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Informative)

      by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:13PM (#38557170)

      Yeah, my experiences with Charter have been about the same over the last 10 years I've been a customer of theirs. The only time I ever had a tech that seemed like he knew anything (and didn't just try to bullshit me) was recently, and even then it took a problem being escalated to the supervisor's supervisor to get that kind of attention. Turns out the "shitty wiring in the walls that was preventing [me] from getting more than 4 meg that would never be repaired unless the landlord tore all the walls out and rewired the building" was actually a faulty node that was blasting everyone in this complex with so much noise on the lines that anything beyond regular web surfing didn't work for shit (and even that worked like crap during peak, which was always the excuse, "it's peak usage, sorry, nothing can be done". It took a year of complaints from everyone in this complex until they finally investigated and found the problem with the node and, when they replaced/repaired it, holy shit, everything started working again. Imagine that...

      If there was any other alternative that offered similar speeds, I would switch, but unfortunately my choice is them or DSL that tops out at 7 meg for the same price. Either way, their Level 3 guy openly admitted that most of the lower level techs know enough to plug the shit in and do basic troubleshooting, but that's about it. However, he did say that 99% of the time the problem is user error related to people not knowing how to plug the shit in or connect to the network, so maybe that's why? Either way, though, I could do without the bullshit answers. I've had the problems blamed on my router more often than I can count (even though that's complete bullshit), and funny, that always segues into trying to get me to rent one from them for $7 a month. Uh, yeah, no thanks...

      • Re:Not comcast (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sevalecan ( 1070490 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:54PM (#38557482)
        No joke. My dad has Charter out at his business, and his modem died not too long ago, so he called them up and they came out and replaced it. This new modem had three different ethernet ports on it, and what the charter guy did was plug the router into the second, non-operative port (he was only paying for one connection anyway), and then plugged his desktop directly into the first port on this new modem. He also told my dad that he needed a "business router" and that's why the router no longer worked. Business router my foot, all he needed was someone with a brain larger than a peanut to come in and hook it up for him. I unplugged the computer, plugged it back into the router, then plugged the router into the first port of the new modem and all was well. It's just a cheap little d-link router but it works fine, he doesn't need anything more and never did.
        • by RKBA ( 622932 )
          I once had a Charter installer tell me that I should have driven to their office and picked up the Charter Internet cable modem (the thing my router plugs into) and associated cables, connectors, etc., and installed things myself instead of taking advantage of their free installation. I just may do that next time, if for no other reason than to avoid dealing with Charter's A-hole installers.
      • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kral_Blbec ( 1201285 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:02PM (#38557850)
        As a former tech support rep at a call center, I can absolutely vouch that the first people you talk to are going to be idiots reading off a card.
        I wish there was a menu option you could select in the phone tree system that says "I hereby declare myself to be competent in the topic at hand. I have tried the routine troubleshooting to no avail, and believe the problem lies beyond my control to fix. I agree to pay a $50 surcharge if you prove me wrong and I should have stuck with the regular support staff.
    • Re:Not comcast (Score:4, Interesting)

      by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke@ f o o l i s h g a m> on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:16PM (#38557188) Homepage Journal

      I wouldn't generalize this. I've seen some bad Comcast installers, but some of they are quite with it. In fact, if you're dealing with the business division, those guys are quite good. One of the last guys I dealt with asked me why I had a business connection at home. We started talking and he was a big Linux fan. He thought it was rather cool I ran a BSD project out of my house. Even shared some insight on their IPV6 deployment plans with me.

    • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Interesting)

      by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:17PM (#38557192) Homepage Journal

      ...I had to show them how to use ping.

      On the other end of the spectrum, needing to call technical support simply to get the ips of the name servers I needed to use elicited a salvo of "Can you ping the servers?" and "Can you give me the output of tracert?" Finally, after 15 minutes of explaining that I was using linux ("That platform isn't supported"), I could configure my machine myself, and all I needed was this one bit of information, the "tech" on the other end of the line actually seemed annoyed with having to give up the one piece of info I actually needed.

      • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Informative)

        by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:24PM (#38557254)

        the other end of the line actually seemed annoyed with having to give up the one piece of info I actually needed

        I don't think giving out DNS server IPs is in the script, and going off the script means that rep is going to be disciplined, and they had to exhaust the 15 minute script lest the rep get punished before being able to go off script, which also ruins the rep's required average call time which it probably something like 3 minutes. So you had them between a rock and a hard place, no matter what the rep did, once you called in, that rep is about to get disciplined, and no one likes no win scenarios.

        Which at least fits in well with the management strategy of keeping the turnover rate of line employees up to keep benefit costs down.

        • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Interesting)

          by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <.moc.edargorter- ... . .xetroCxetroV.> on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:57PM (#38557502)

          What I do:

          Them: Hello my name is $OBVIOUSLY_FAKE_NAME
          Me: $OBVIOUSLY_FAKE_NAME, is it? I know you have a script and all, but please save us both some time and just escalate me to a higher support tier, the info I need isn't on your script. (If they refuse, then I say: "Sorry about this, I know calls are recorded... so, I'm right pissed off and I'd like to talk to your manager!")

          Once I've got the next higher up support personnel on the phone I can usually say things like: "I need the IP list for my name servers, my IP is: xx.xx.xx.xx", or "Your cable-tech guy forgot to give me the admin password for the modem, what's the standard PW or reset procedure & web-based config?" and I'm off the phone in mere moments.

          IMHO, there's no need to ever mention what OS you're using. If they ask I tell them it's none of their business, they sell network service, not software.

          • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @05:34PM (#38558448)

            When I was at the other end a customer called claiming he was some Network Specialist and he knew there was something wrong on our end.

            I asked him if he could prove I was an idiot by removing the second network card config he had configured. Things suddenly worked.

            So yes, there are idiots on both sides. I understand that a script is stoopid for most of us here, but for the majority of 'specialists' it isn't. I have seen people trying to solve an issue for 45+ minutes only to realize they did not do step 1 or step 2 in the script.

            If somebody asked for the IP adress of any server, we just gave it. We even explained telnet to POP3 for dial up customers who often received to large mails and MS cut of the connection.

            Sure it is annoying and you have checked everything. On the whole it however will save time. Not with you. It will with the 1000 other customers. The problem is not so much the usage of a script, but the script itself. If you get people who say "My mail does not work" the standard we did was to do a traceroute to see if there was a connection or a DNS problem. If that worked, we tried a telnet to see if there was no firewall issue.
            Only then did we check the mail program. This if the mail had worked previously.

            And if you are so smart and have a connection, why don't you look up the IP adresses in either your settings or on our website. Yes, you can find that without a valid DNS server. You are the specialist. You figure it out if you don't like the way we give support. Yes, I have hung up on customers as agent, supervisor AND manager because they started demanding I do things their way and refused to answer some extreme simple questions, like their login (so I can see if there is an issue with their account) or their basic network setting. They kept telling that there was an issue at our end without giving ANY feedback on how they reached that conclusion.

            I am there to give service. That does not mean I am your servant. And yes, we gave the best service at that time of any provider. When I compared with others, our 1st level support did what others did at second or even third level.

            So next time, just go with the flow and use your knowledge to find those adresses yourself with your knowledge. There is no reason to call them for the DNS addresses. None whatsoever unless you are not a specialist of any kind. Then please follow the script to see if you have not forgotten other configurations.

      • Re:Not comcast (Score:5, Informative)

        by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:56PM (#38557488)

        I always use (one of Google's DNS servers) as an emergency backup when I cannot reach mine.

        Also, a lot of linux distros do support DHCP, which is a good way to get the settings before manually configuring. (which may not be an option in your situation)

      • Next time, after the third time you tell them what you want them to tell you, just demand to talk to their supervisor. The "supervisor" you get will probably just be a fellow employee who will give you the info. Barring that they will maybe be a tech lead who will give you the info. Either way you waste the time of an employee who costs more than minimum wage, and thus help to motivate a change.

      • The first time I was auto-forwarded to an ISP-provided search page for a typo in a domain name I changed my DNS servers to,, and
        What benefits do ISP-provided name servers provide?

    • by rhizome ( 115711 )

      Last time I had a comcast tech out to fix my cable modem, I had to show them how to use ping.

      I've got news for you: he knows how. He was just being lazy and padding his hours with a play-dumb work slowdown.

    • Sounds about like my local company (Shentel) too - we had outages 5 separate times in October, each time the idiots on the phone were convinced that something was wrong with our router or computers, how dare we insinuate that their equipment could POSSIBLY be broken.

      Finally after 5 calls, a 15-minute browbeating of one of their phone monkeys, and 3 dispatches....they futzed around for almost 3 hours and finally figured out that someone sliced a line putting in a privacy fence.

      And this after I had to talk to

    • The last time I had a Comcast technician out, he was curious about the command-line tool I was using, mtr []. At that point, we could actually talk like two technicians.

    • by Macrat ( 638047 )

      Last time I had a comcast tech out to fix my cable modem, I had to show them how to use ping.

      Likely just a part time contractor.

      Real Comcast techs know how to pull up a terminal and run commands.

      I've had both.

  • by wygit ( 696674 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:44PM (#38556952)

    he had several meters and black boxes his employer had given him but hadn't shown him how to use. He was standing there clipping clips to different connectors, saying "Is this what I hook this to?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mannfred ( 2543170 )
      I guess what the article is really saying is that now the cable companies _need_ network specialists even at the customer-facing frontline, but they're not willing to pay for them.
    • by NJRoadfan ( 1254248 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:54PM (#38557028)
      The cable companies around here seem to subcontract out all their install work, mostly to people who aren't good or care about their job. Verizon still has their own employees doing the Fios installs since they have to send someone up onto the pole to run the fiber from the tap into the house. The Verizon guys appear to be better trained and better paid (not surprising since they are unionized). $53k is peanuts on the coasts, but is a decent salary elsewhere in the US.
      • That's why I don't have cable for either TV or internet. The Centurylink guys seem to be quite a bit more clueful and the DirecTV technicians on the rare occasion where I need them go way above and beyond what I've needed to make sure things are done and that I won't have further problems.

      • hmm.. it would appear that the vast majority of the people are living on peanuts.

        always funny to see a bunch of self righteous indignant assholes get violently, abusively angry at people who can survive on 1/2 the money...

  • payed per job and are over scheduled leading to time where they don't even show time.

    And I have seen job listed where they just say if you have a truck and a list of tools you can start right away.

  • by seyyah ( 986027 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:46PM (#38556968)

    The median hourly income in 2010 for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $55,600 annually, up only 0.4 percent from 2008."

    Terrific start to the year with that sentence!

  • A lot of the time when you want stuff like that they don't know much about them and with the pc's they want to install that POS software on them. Also comcast give out the POS Norton AV as well.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      I give them a sacrificial computer

      "oh yea I totally use that 850MHz Pentium 3 as my daily computer, it meets all of your minimum requirements"

    • by mysidia ( 191772 ) *

      A lot of the time when you want stuff like that they don't know much about them

      That's the company line, if you ask for cablecard... "We don't know what that is." They've got to feign ignorance

      Example: just rent our $2000 intentionally DRM-crippled DVR for $100/month that has a capacity of 20gb, or up to 20 hours of TV recording. Pause live TV, and record

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:49PM (#38556986) Journal

    I don't know that the cable providers are really trying to get "Network Specialists" to do the installs? I completely agree that times are changing, and today's installer is much more likely to be bringing the connection into a home for Internet service than for simply watching TV. But the median pay doesn't sound that out of line to me, for what I think they're really looking for -- which is someone capable of efficiently driving to customer locations and following some defined procedures to hook up the cable and attach the required equipment.

    The real "Network Specialists" they'd pay a lot more for would be the guys working at the "back end" of the cable company, managing the large switches handling all the traffic going out to various neighborhoods and ensuring people aren't hacking a modem in some way to get more bandwidth than they paid for. Other back end workers would be responsible for such things as rolling out firmware upgrades to the cable modems or set-top boxes on their network, testing equipment that comes back in as defective or customer returns, and keeping on top of network outages.

    Just because today's customer is more sophisticated and wants to attach 15 or 20 devices to their connection doesn't mean the INSTALLER is expected to assist with any of that. My personal experience with cable company troubleshooting of issues (such as intermittent connections) tells me that if anything, they'll ask you to disconnect the cable modem from everything else and troubleshoot with only one PC connected directly to it. They don't really understand, or WANT to understand all the other things you might be trying to do with it.

    • by GaryOlson ( 737642 ) <> on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:56PM (#38557044) Journal

      Just because today's customer is more sophisticated...

      Just because today's customer THINKS they are more sophisticated because multiple devices can be easily connected to a home network as a result of standards and effective design created by hardworking engineers.

      • Just because today's customer is more sophisticated...

        Just because today's customer THINKS they are more sophisticated because multiple devices can be easily connected to a home network as a result of standards and effective design created by hardworking engineers.

        Just because today's customer NEEDS to be more sophisticated because hardware and software engineers don't follow the standards exactly, add in useless vendor lock-in bells and whistles such as "WIFI Speed Boost", and don't release the driver software so that we can actually USE the hardware on OSs (like Linux or Windows7) out of the box, because of the slave drivers the engineers work for don't get bonuses if they don't meet bogus deadlines the hardworking engineers thought were ridiculous in the first p

    • Or maybe they know that too much advanced stuff is technically against their TOS so if you're not a good little bit sipper you really ought to upgrade to business class.

    • [].

      They send out a box that later on one cable guy says they were supposed to stop giving these out quite awhile ago, and that they are known to do this, which is why they stopped using just the guy at the Tech center was not so up to date, I suppose.

      1. why do they still give out 5-6 year old boxes? (that can't get the new guide that comcast is working or use MPEG 4 channels)

      2. why are people still being forced to re

    • by mkraft ( 200694 )

      There are a number of levels inside cable companies when it comes to support.

      The lowest level is the "cable guy". This person is not likely to have a computer or engineering background. They receive training from the cable company to do basic things like use the diagnostic meter, run coax cable, strip wiring, etc. basically they are kind of like basic electricians. Some may have some training as to what QAM errors are and the like, but not enough to fix problems. Some are employees of the cable company

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      My experience with Comcast is that they have various levels of technician. The people who do the installs are the first line. But they also have line (RF) techs and data techs who handle the infrastructure. Those guys are the ones who are rarely going to show up at your house, but actually know how to get stuff done.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I saw one of them once. He was a pretty awesome tech, and knew what the hell he was talking about. Basically the first tech just came out, looked at our install, and verified that it was okay. He metered it and everything to make sure that it worked. After about a week, our cable modem started dropping 1/4 to 1/2 the packets(tested with ping). We called, and Comcast sent that technician back out, who proceeded to say that everything looked fine and it was probably our cable modem. Needless to say, the new m

  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @01:58PM (#38557054)
    Network specialists? My a$$. They are no more network specialists than bloggers are professional journalists (yes, I feel your pain and anger and feel free to think yourselves to be anything you want, which won't change a thing).

    If you want to be sure that the work is done right, try to do as much of the local installations yourselves as possible. Otherwise you're in for a treat: lot of wasted time plus paying for stuff you end up doing yourselves anyway.

    And no disrespect, but calling an average of >50k for cable installing low... come on, be at least a bit realistic.
    • The guys making > $50k are not the guys comming to your house hooking up the cable. They're the guys hooking up and dealing with the CO equipment and other pieces of provider side equipment. The guys coming to your house are typically classified as low-voltage cabling installers. In most states, they don't need a license for that. In any event, I haven't had a phone/cable guy come inside my house in over a decade. There's just no need for that.

    • Network specialists? My a$$. They are no more network specialists than bloggers are professional journalists (yes, I feel your pain and anger and feel free to think yourselves to be anything you want, which won't change a thing).

      A blogger is a professional journalist if they're making their living at it. It makes no difference how trivial the material they cover is, it's a matter of definition.

  • It does depend on how far back you go. I can believe that phone guys in the 80s didn't do a lot, but if you go further back, they tended to be at least moderately knowledgeable electricians, since a lot of phone issues ended up being something with the wiring.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I think the old-school Bell System technicians had a couple of advantages over the Comcast guys.

      One, was the "Bell System" -- they were working with a completely designed vertical infrastructure. There was no mystery equipment, bought at the lowest price, from a Taiwanese manufacturer. And for many installs there wasn't much to do besides check cross-connects, make a few test calls with a butt set and ensure that the phone placed was the correct color for the homemaker's interior and the dial label had th

  • fluff don't read (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:01PM (#38557080)

    installed a “wireless gateway,” transforming an unused stairwell into a control room for the modem and router that can handle at least 24 devices at 22 megabits per second.

    Anybody in this business more than 5 minutes, already knows you don't need an unused stairwell to hold a little apple airport. Unused Barbie Dollhouse stairwell, then I'll be impressed. My unused stairwell has a fileserver psuedo-nas, a small 3 unit compute cluster, a vlan capable ether switch with a zillion ports, a sbc6120 pdp-8 clone with an ethernet to serial telnet converter box, one of my ipphones that connects to the house asterisk ip pbx, and yes, I wedged an apple time machine box in there as a wireless gateway too.

    Also not sure about the marketing figure of 24 devices. A /28 for the customer and a /29 for the public guest network? Uh, not. Probably just pulled than number out of a completely meaningless nether region.

    Another rant is you don't need certifications in network engineering such as my long expired CCNP to ... crimp a F-connector on a cable, or yank cat-5 thru a wall. I think this is one of those ever so trendy and tiresome "be glad you networking guys at least have some kind of job, because physicists and aerospace engineers are stuck driving taxis" story. Its very much like implying that you "Need" a french literature degree to be a mcdonalds fry cook because that seems to be the only job position hiring french lit grads now a days. You need the overtraining and overeducation due to intense competition and lack of jobs, not because the workload requires it.

    Finally, $55K is for a national job not just flyover big cities on the coasts. In the semi-rural area where I live, three times that gets you basically my house, a nice landed estate, an upgraded non-mcmansion house, an acre or so to grow gardens or have the kids play or put up a ham radio antenna in a non-HOA neighborhood, more or less low crime, decent neighbors, great four season weather, tons of money left over for kids education, travel/vacations, excellent local schools, tech toys, gourmet food, etc. Two spouses income and if you want you can live a rather more elaborate lifestyle, like perhaps own a house on a lakeshore, or substantial land for a private hunting reserve, etc. So spare me the comments that $55K in the flyover coastal areas or Chicago means living in a cardboard box and eating mac n cheese in the park; we know that. I know that TW pay has at least a small correction factor for local cost of living. The difference in salary required for "the good life" varies across the US by darn near a factor of 10, so if you can get a mid paying job in a fantastic area, its pretty good indeed.

  • But I don't think it means what you think it means.

    The last time I had a cable Internet connection to be installed, I had ordered it without a network card, so I was sure that they would not give me a Windows Only one. I clearly had this on the application. I also installed Windows, because I knew it would not go well otherwise.

    So I have a clean Windows installation with on a paper the MAC address that they will need to make the connection. The first guy comes in and no connection. Well obviously, because h

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Geeze, they lock it down to MAC address? What if you get a new PC? They can tell (or predict with some accuracy) if its a LAN card or a dedicated device via the "OUI" organizationally unique identifier portion of the MAC addrs, so their software will likely not fall for you telling them your apple airport is actually your new PC. They might fall for you telling them its your new mac mini, maybe.

      What will work is installing a second NIC on the machine, installing debian linux or whatever, configure the ne

    • Glad to have comcast... the modem just gives uses DHCP and locks to the first MAC address that connects... and if you get a new computer, turn the modem off and back on. (or wait an hour for the lock to time out)

      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        Yeah, I'm not sure what the point of the MAC lock is anymore, except maybe to circumvent people hooking a hub up to the ethernet out of the modem and trying to get IP addresses directly from the modem. But with the Comcast stuff, I've found that a couple of reboots always solves the problem.
  • My foot. Sure, there are a few that know what they are doing and should be doing something more advanced ( and get paid for it ), but most that i have ever dealt with are buffoons and should be picking up trash instead.

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:18PM (#38557202)
    While I have a "good" (but small) cable company (right down to putting paper booties on when they enter the house), when I have a line problem and they talk about coming out, I always disconnect all of my other other routers and subnets and pipe the cable modem to one dedicated dumb little PC.

    Habit formed from experience with a "bad" (but huge) cable company that would always blame the problem on my equipment if there was more than one wire between their modem and the PC.

    If the big cable companies have gotten better at all, I would point the finger at their having better test equipment - equipment that obviates the need for knowledge.
  • 250GB is fast being becoming to low. even more so at 10M -20M+ download speeds.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Wait you're complaining about 250GB? Man come to canada where most ISP's are still at 60GB.

  • by MikeURL ( 890801 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:33PM (#38557310) Journal

    I've had cable installers come and go for years and years. All they ever do is use their meter to check the signals coming through the line. If the signals are good that is all they are interested in.

    Frankly it is not all that hard to train someone to hook a cable up to a meter and check to see if the numbers are in acceptable ranges. In rare cases where the signals are off they start to replace splitters working backward from the cable modem. If that doesn't work they give up and blame neighborhood saturation.

    So i don't know why you'd want to pay these guys a lot of money. They aren't doing highly skilled work. Now, if you're talking about the network engineers who have to design and fix the grid that is an entirely different story. Those are obviously highly skilled people who have to know their stuff. The guys plugging in modems? Not so much.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @02:41PM (#38557362) Homepage Journal

    If unions like the Communications Workers of America (CWA) taught network engineering skills to members it would make a bigger union and a better workforce. Maybe make one's tuition payable out of one's union dues, with discounts for grades above 50%ile. Trade schools should be run out of the revenue of the trade, not out of the public pocket as a subsidy to that industry. The public should be in the business only of certifying minimum education standards, properly primarily educating applicants through highschool, and stimulating the incoming student body size to ensure strategic industries have a raw labor pool on which to grow and compete.

    If the United Autoworkers had opened robotics and engineering schools for members in the 1980s instead of resisting automation, we'd have a better organized, educated and productive workforce, and a stronger domestic industry - and better cars.

    If these unions were strong enough and offered better benefits, their membership would grow enough that we could have competing unions instead of the monopoly. Then strikes and other labor negotiations would bottom line at what's actually better for the industry's workforce as a whole, instead of just the members of that union.

    • Lot's IT / networking stuff is very hands on and is stuff you don't get in a cs degree. And Teaching network engineering skills is what trade schools and on the job does. CS is Teaching high level theory while some theory is good CS is to much on the theory side and lack the REAL work skills.

      • Every network tech should know (at least 25% of) Stevens' TCP/IP Illustrated, just as any structured programmer should know K&R's The C Programming Language. Whether they learn that as part of "computer science" or trade training depends on what they're learning to use the basic (if extensive) knowledge for. The more beyond that they know puts them on the spectrum of tech -> engineer -> scientist. There should be national standard certifications reflecting that knowledge, just like diplomas from h

        • That why IT needs to be like plumbing or electrician work with class room and national standard certifications. And the class room part should be a the max 1-2 years with out the real work part. And when is time to move to the real work part then class room should move to the on going ongoing education. NO intern BS.

          Also the classroom part needs to cover real work skills and case studies just like a tech schools + some base line theory. With IT there is alot that you need do hand on's or do cases studies wi

          • True, except that plumbers and electricians aren't trained and certified like that. Only the licensed one; most of the people working for them have no formal training and no certification. Then they do all the work that the licensed professional is supposed to be doing. The license is just a liability control, to revoke if their corner cutting goes wrong enough times.

            And their work is extremely sub-optimal. Especially when expansion, upgrade and maintenance of the plumbing or electrical work in needed, or a

  • Based on my own experiences, my cable company now tries to discourage technician visits. It takes a week to get an appointment, even if you have no service.

    Now, they are encouraging customers to go to the local cable office to pick up their own equipment and install it themselves.

    In recent years, the equipment itself has changed. The cable box is now a simple box, without even an on/off button. I think the idea is supposed to be "hook it up, plug it in, it works", requiring no expensive visit. Unf
    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      It might be coincidence, but I get way faster service when I tell them my television signal is out.
    • Now if only all of my channels would work...

      For this you may need a public works engineer. I could recommend my moat-guy, but I heard he was injured on the job -- Alligators. Turns out he wasn't certified for Animal Control.

  • The original article/post links to a page describing "Radio and Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers" and their pay of $55,600, however what is actually being discussed here falls more under the "Line Installers and Repairers" description and their pay of $39,970. Hopefully that makes some of you feel better about the service (or lack thereof) you received from your 'cable guy'. The correct link for this job description is.... []
  • I think they're experts in routing cables in very tight and uncomfortable spaces like attics and crawl spaces. They would often want to route stuff directly through a wall rather than in-wall because it's the easier to do the former. But I appreciate their expertise in this area. Connecting stuff to MPOEs and NIDs they definitely know that stuff. How to tell if the wiring into a premises are electrical or telco, yup. Splicing fiber, definitely. I'm surprised they're paid that low because I've asked a contra

  • In my experience, it is an iron rule that when you find a good service tech for home accounts, they are about to be let go or take a buy-out or their department is being outsourced or whatever. And, when I say "about to be let go," I mean "have gotten notice."

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @03:31PM (#38557658)

    I can see a Xfinity SSID right now and they are only useing WEP.

  • my heart bleeds. absolutely bleeds. how do they eat?

  • Congrats, Mr. cable guy, Larry on on youw new Net-werk specialization.

    Get 'Er Done.

    Or should he be saying.... Get 'Er surfing and streaming, and tweeting, now?

    This should be an inspiration to cable company technicians everywhere. Go get your computer science degrees and engineering level certifications.

  • by Zeekort ( 2194830 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @03:02AM (#38561530)
    I used to work in Level3 for a cable company and I can tell you that most of the techs don't even check the RF power levels on the lines half the time. Heck, I've had to send a FOREMAN out just to get someone that would actually unplug a modem to trace a simple RF problem to a splitter and have it fixed in 5 minutes or less. Forget about even expecting them to know how to check the IP address the customer was getting if they can't even take care of an RF issue that "technically" they should be experts in for all the checks they do on the lines for regular TV service all the time.

    The fatal flaw of the article is that the techs they mention in it are all foreman level or supervisors. NONE of which are the regular cable techs that we all know and loath. Install techs are also better trained and have higher expectations placed on them so they are (generally) at least a little better than the average tech but still no where near being called a "Specialist" given that many of them still needed one of us to tell them how to put in a wireless key on a MAC or PC.

    That being said though, the cable industry itself is changing. Gradually all cable techs will have no choice but to actually learn something or take a hike thanks to the newer technologies coming out (ex DOCSIS Set-top Gateway).
  • by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @07:29AM (#38562300) Homepage Journal

    I've dealt with plenty of level 1 tech support BS, but I've never had a problem with home installers.

    the install techs just make sure the modem is hooked up. I can and do handle the home networking myself. (I suppose this could be specified in the ordering process, so the ISP knows what techs to send out and with what equipment)

    Cox - apartment was already wired, so tech just needed to hook up the modem and make sure the line still worked. the only device was my PC, so networking was a moot point
    Time Warner - house was not already wired, techs spent a lot of time working out the cable run. switched from another ISP, used the existing home networking setup with the new modem/ISP

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