Over the weekend, we had to make do without internet service at our house for a couple of days, thanks to yet another outage caused by Spectrum’s wires being downed by severe thunderstorms in our area. I had some things I had to do online that were too big for my iPhone to handle over a cellular signal, so I took my laptop to the library, which has free wifi, and was able to complete those tasks, fortunately.
On the way back, I thought about which of the utilities — electricity, water, gas, TV, and internet — that come into our house were most and least important. I know that, technically, TV and internet service aren’t utilities, but let’s include them for the sake of this discussion.
Here’s how I rank them, from most to least important:
Water’s gotta be at the top because, while I can get through a day without turning on a light, I can’t go that long without using the plumbing — whether it’s for drinking water, rinsing things off, brushing my teeth, or flushing away waste. Officially, water requires two utilities (the one that brings it to my house, and the other that takes it away), but they can fall under the same must-have category.
Electricity’s next because it we need it to keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter — the HVAC won’t work without juice — and to keep important appliances like the refrigerator running.
Internet comes next because I spend so much time online reading, writing, and browsing. Yes, I can go to the library or the BreadCo for wifi access, but I’m not going to sit there for hours binge-watching some streaming series.
I put gas at number four despite the fact it runs our water heater, which distributes hot water to all our faucets. But, frankly, since I spend the vast majority of time at home, I can go a couple of days without taking a shower and not offend the outside world.
TV brings up the rear, only on the condition that we still have access to streaming outlets. We watch very little broadcast or cable TV, though we’re not thinking of cutting the cord, because we gotta have our fix of “Jeopardy!” every afternoon and ESPN’s Top Ten Plays Of The Day every night. Still, missing them for a day or two isn’t the end of the world.
What I don’t understand about the Spectrum internet outages — we’ve had three of them in the last three weeks — is why their lines are affected by inclement weather so much more often than the AT&T U-Verse and Ameren Electric wires. After all, they’re on the same poles, aren’t they? In fact, in our neighborhood, the Spectrum lines aren’t above ground at all. They’re buried, running to a node in our backyard that serves everyone on the block. So, the problem’s never here — it’s always somewhere else where a crew in a bucket truck has to go splice some cables back together.
Why aren’t they all buried? Yes, it would be a large expense in the short term, but think about all the grief it would save in the long term, not to mention the cost of hiring all those repair teams and having them work extra shifts through the night to restore service. Ah, I’m guessing some bean counter at the company ran the math and decided it wasn’t worth the expense, even if it does annoy customers like me on a too-regular basis.