Cables outside my house in Kathmandu

Fixing the internet in Nepal

I’ve been living and working in Nepal the past few months. Yesterday the internet in my house stopped working. It looked like a problem with the signal coming through the cable - the steady green light on the modem had started flashing. Even turning the modem and router off then on again over and over and over didn’t solve the problem. I’d reached the limit of my hardware knowledge and knew I’d have to call someone. I hadn’t set the account up so didn’t know any details other than it was opened by a chap called Boris a couple of years ago. Addresses don’t really exist in Nepal. We don’t have a phone line, and we pay our bills in cash to a man who every few months turns up outside our house on his motorbike and hoots his horn. Fair to say I dreaded calling up my ISP, Subisu. I needn’t have worried…

From broken to working in 110 minutes

  1. Call Sibusu. I got their number form their website. Press 1 for English, then 2 for tech support.
  2. Have call answered by a human within 8 seconds.
  3. Tell the operator the account name. Literally just the first name - Boris. The operator says “Ah, Boris, so you are in Pulchowk right? Can you give me the MAC address from the bottom of your modem?”
  4. Give operator MAC address
  5. Operator says there has been a signal issue and will send a technician round. I ask how many days. He says “1 hour 30 mins”
  6. 1 hour 50 mins later (no one’s perfect), I get a call from the engineers. There’s a bit of back and forth here - my ‘address’ is a series of directions, ‘along Jhamsikel road to St Marys school, turn right towards Kantipur FM, pass the labrador and fat white dog, call me when you’re at Dan Ran restaurant’. But a few minutes later they arrive on bicycle carrying a spool of cable and a ladder. This looks good.
  7. They test a few connections, show me that my cable has been torn down by another team putting up lampposts earlier in the week (I should have guessed by the cable spool that this is a common thing), climb their ladder and get to work adding to the haphazard web of cables.
  8. 15 minutes later I’m back online and writing this little tale.

Virgin, BT, O2, Sky and every other UK ISP I have ever had to speak to four hours on end: take note.

Tagged travel