One of the supposed amenities of the building where I rent was that a good portion of the building is blanketed by Wi-Fi from a company called Natural Wireless. I figured it was a gimmick at the time I read about it but it turned out to be a really nice perk.
When I moved in, I picked up signal from their AP and I immediately signed up for their service, since a geek without internet service is rendered powerless like Spiderman without his spidey suit. I figured I’d only keep the service until I got a “real” internet service provider (DSL from Verizon or cable from Time Warner; Speakeasy was in the running at one point, but then they were picked up by Best Buy, and I hate that chain more than I hate consumer ISPs).
The day after I signed up, some Natural Wireless guys came to install an access point in my apartment so that I would get a better signal. For a returnable deposit, they also gave me a wireless bridge so that I could connect my networking gear to their network. At first this seemed like a good idea, but there was no encryption between the wireless bridge and the AP, making all of my traffic in the open.
I returned the bridge soon thereafter and lived with the wireless service for a while, re-intending to subscribe to Time Warner’s service, albeit at a higher price.
Then I had an afternoon of annoying phone calls with Time Warner (first they couldn’t locate my apartment number in their system, despite my neighbors being listed; then, they told me I could not get the promotional (better) price and no installation fee, costing me lots of money I don’t think I should have to pay and requiring a week’s wait).
I emailed Natural Wireless with a proposal to install a switch between their network and their AP, and then connecting my own router directly to the switch. I had indicated I was prepared to pay for the additional connectivity.
Ralph responded to me very quickly; not only did they accept my proposal, but were willing to lend me some equipment to do it, and could do the install on the next business day. Best of all: they aren’t charging me anything additional. Even better: Ralph must have picked up on the fact that I’m a geek, dispensed with the customer service-speak, and used acronym-heavy lingo. I really appreciate when customer service reps can speak to the level of their customer.
So now, I have a true and verified 3Mbps down and 3Mbps up, for $26 per month, no contract, and most importantly, no dealing with incompetency at the big ISPs. I’m even thinking of upgrading to their bigger plans ($30/mo for 5Mbps up/down, $45/mo for 10Mbps up/down), because of that last point.
Kudos to Natural Wireless. They’ve made this customer happy.