Last week I upgraded a laptop OS from Win 8 to Win 8.1.
Immediately afterwards, my connection to the internet was plagued by dropouts every few minutes.
After a week of attempting to solve the problem, with the aid of Big Pond Technical Support staff based in Manila (where the usual ‘help’ consisted of uselessly changing the channel the modem and lap top used for wi-fi), their conclusion was that the problem was either my laptop or the Win OS.
After another few days of dealing with the Telstra complaints department, I was finally transferred to Big Pond’s Premium Technical Support branch where their representative said that Telstra/Big Pond did have a patch available but that it would involve remote control of my computer and a fee of $120. As the computer in question was unable to connect with the internet for long enough to make this procedure possible, the Technical Support branch would arrange for a representative to make a home visit for $190.
By this time, I had gained access to the net using a different machine and found the following on Big Pond’s technical website, called Crowd Support, which was posted by a Big Pond technician:
‘Investigations have identified an incompatibility between Windows 8.1 (releasing 18/10/2013) and the 10.x series of Technicolor firmware (TG587n V3 & TG797n V3).
‘The issue relates to the way that Windows 8.1 performs DNS lookups, which differs from all previous versions of Windows OS. This change has exposed a timing/race condition bug within the Technicolor gateway firmware, and results in some webpages failing to load.
‘To rectify this issue, Technicolor have identified a temporary workaround that can be applied via our remote management system. The delivery of this fix is currently being trialled for deployment next week. Technicolor have engineered a firmware fix that will be incorporated in the next maintenance release.
‘Alternative workarounds are also available by manually configuring the public DNS servers within the Windows device to resolve this issue.’
As you can see, Big Pond Technical Support Staff acknowledge that the problem is a vulnerability with the modem that Telstra sells to their customers.
Another round of talks with the complaints staff and then a telephone call from a person in charge of their Premium Support Service (Gareth) and about two minutes of ‘the fix’ (a simple change of the Primary and Secondary DNS numbers) and the modem and laptop were all working again.
In conclusion, I note that the OIC in charge of Big Pond’s Premium Support Service stated that not only would I not be charged for ‘the fix’ but neither would any of Telstra’s customers using Telstra modems.
If anyone reading this has experienced a similar problem, please feel free to contact me through The Echo (I have supplied my home telephone number and email address to their staff) if you find Telstra/Big Pond attempting to charge you for their problems or otherwise claiming that this is a problem with your PC or OS.
As end-product users make the migration to Win OS 8.1 in increasing numbers, I wonder how many have already been slugged by Telstra’s price gouging to rectify a problem in their modems.
By the way, according to Telstra’s technical staff, the cheaper fix of simply buying another modem that does not have this ‘vulnerability’ will result in Big Pond refusing to offer any future technical support.
I would also add that, as you are reading this, Telstra are continuing to sell the modems in question despite knowing that they won’t function with the latest version of the world’s most common operating system.
John Hagger, Waterview Heights