Are you sure it's not just in sleep mode?

In the wake of a very bad thunderstorm, this field service pilot fish is dispatched to a client's restaurant to test and replace a patch cord after lightning blew up the cable modem.

"My ticket said to replace the cord between the cable modem and the router," says fish. "The internet provider had replaced the modem, but the site was still on its backup wireless connection because the router still could not communicate through the modem.

"The support desk -- which was on another continent -- believed that either there must be a defective patch cord or the ISP had sent a defective modem."

It only takes a few minutes for fish to spot the real problem: The router's WAN port has been destroyed by the same blast that took out the original modem -- along with a printer, a dishwasher and several other pieces of equipment, according to the restaurant's manager.

Fish checks the cable modem by connecting a laptop to it, and he can surf the internet just fine. But no matter what he connects to the WAN port, the link light stays dark.

Now all he has to do is report his results via online chat to the offshore support team. How hard could that be?

"I wasted the next four hours trying to get the support folks -- levels 1, 2 and 3 -- to understand that the devices could not communicate because of a Layer 1 fault in the router: namely, that lightning had destroyed the physical hardware of the network interface," fish says.

"I started to feel like I was trapped in a Monty Python sketch: This router is defunct! Deceased! Except that it wasn't totally bereft of life, and only the WAN port had snuffed it."

No, changing the patch cord did not help. Do you require a photo of the cable test results?

Yes, the modem is functional -- I can connect to various web sites through it.

Yes, my laptop is OK. See, if I connect it to the GE1 port of the router, I get a link light.

Oh, you can see that the port has gone active? Very good. No, you do not need the carrier to replace the modem. The fault is not in the modem.

Now do what's necessary and send a replacement router, please...

"Four soul-sucking hours of repeating the same tests, with the same results, three and four times," groans fish. "My only consolation is that the pay was hourly."

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