An Open Letter to Verizon

I screwed up.  It doesn’t happen very often but I did.  I procrastinated getting hooked up for ISDN in our home studio and now it seems that it is too late.  The thing is, at the time we didn’t really need it here.  My wife and I were so rarely asked to do ISDN sessions that we just went in-studio when we had to because it was more cost efficient.  I’m not cheap, mind you, I blow all kinds of cash on studio equipment and services but I figured I would rather have a shiny new microphone or preamp than blowing a few grand on a box and the lines.  Makes sense, no?

Well, in the past few months things have been blowing up around here.  I have been given some opportunities to do work which would require ISDN fairly often and my lovely and talented wife Lindsay has been stuck going to a studio near us in the Hamptons that charges 400 bucks per hour.  400 bucks!!  Yikes.

The timing could not be worse as when it finally came time to bite the bullet it would seem that new lines are no longer being offered.  We love our home out here but may even be forced to move out of state if we are not able to provide our clients with the service they require.  A move would be heartbreaking but perhaps necessary.  IP solutions and bridging would not really work as FIOS is not out here and our internet provider does not exactly give us the super high speeds we would need to ensure sessions would not be dropped.

The ironic part (in an Alanis Morissette kind of ironic way) is that I voice quite a lot for Verizon.  I’m the guy on the phone recordings when people have not paid their bill or if there is a service change.  I have done a ton of other stuff for you guys in the past as well.  Heck, we even pay a few hundred bucks a month to you for our cellphones, even when service out here was spotty and we had to get a signal repeater.

So Verizon, my friend, I am on my knees here1: is there any way you can sneak one more line in before throwing in the towel?  We would be eternally grateful and wouldn’t even tell if you don’t want us too.  My wife is an excellent cook and we would be happy to feed the technician.  It would be so worth it.

1. Pathetic, no?

Source-Connect ISDN Bridging Totally Sucks

I have had my black suit laid out for many years in preparation for the ISDN funeral that has been foretold since the early 2000s.  I hate to question the wisdom of the sages,1 but the prophesy is bunk.  ISDN is alive and very well and is not going anywhere any time soon.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Of course, support and availability from the phone companies is waning but that is hardly the final nail in the coffin.

ISDN is certainly no walk in the park for talent to set up.  Depending on where you live you may have to wait for installation, make a million phone calls and generally get the runaround.  A Zephyr (or similar) is not cheap and there are monthly fees on the lines, etc.  No fun.


The thing is, if you do a lot of ISDN work, you don’t really have a choice.  If you don’t do a lot then you are probably better off spending your money elsewhere.  Get the numbers of as many local studios as you can and be prepared to book them (sometimes on your own dime) when a client insists.  Otherwise, try to talk your client into a phone patch session instead.  I have changed a million ISDN sessions to patches after minimal cajoling with the client.

Recently I have heard more than one talent allude to “just” bridging with Source-Connect.  As in, “I can’t be bothered with the hassle and expense of ISDN so I am just going to get Source-Connect and then bridge when I need to because it is just as good.”  The problem is that SC bridges totally, completely and utterly suck ass.  After doing quite a few of them here we are experiencing about a 15 percent success rate on these sessions, and by “success” I mean “it actually kind of worked and didn’t drop”.  This is with different talent from all over the world on different ISPs with different bridging services.  I have heard of similar results in places with dedicated T1 lines so internet reliability is not the issue.  The only common denominator in all of these sessions has been Source-Connect.  After another catastrophe last week I have decided we will never offer a bridge session to our clients as an option again.

It ain’t exactly cheap either:  Exhibit A.

Yeah, yeah.  Somebody is going to disagree and say they have a fantastic history of bridging and it works just great.  The problem is, you’re wrong.  I am right and you are wrong.2  It WILL fail.  Your connection WILL drop at some point and it WILL suck.  It is confusing for the client, frustrating for talent, wrecks the flow of the session and is a general show-stopper.  Not to mention being embarrassing to your agent who signed off on the damn thing.  Then you have to scramble to reconnect or just scrap the idea altogether and switch to a phone patch session.

So what is the point of all this aside from the catharsis factor?3  I simply wanted to get a few things clear for those who think “just” bridging is a viable option.  It’s not.  It’s really, really not.  Either bite the bullet and get ISDN, be prepared to travel to an outside studio, get good at talking clients into phone patch instead or be prepared to let someone else do the job.

1. No I don’t
2. Don’t feel bad, it happens all the time.  Just ask my wife.
3. I must admit that talking smack about them feels pretty good.