After having gone through a complete DSL outage described here, my ISP was able to get the line back up in a couple of days. Unfortunately, since the line came back up (apparently my local telco had either cut or disconnected the line about a mile away from my house), it's been bouncing (dropping and reconnecting) erratically. This has been going on for days, and my ISP doesn't seem to have done a whole lot about it. Now the line is completely dead. So I called them up today, and got a nice person on the phone who asked me to disconnect and reconnect the line, and then to power-cycle the router (for only the bazillionth time), just like every other time I've called. Then they got Covad on the phone, and had me do yet another cycle of disconnect/reconnect/power-cycle.
After all that, the answer is that they'll send a Covad tech out to test the router, the inside wiring, and the NID (Network Interface Device - i.e. - the box on the back or side of your house where the phone lines come in). Now I guess I should be happy that an actual physical person will be working on the problem, but it strikes me as funny that in order to solve a problem that started with a break in the line more than a mile from my house, they're going to send someone to test stuff in my house! One kind of has to wonder who's training these people in troubleshooting.
Alas, by the time I post this, the problem will presumably be solved (if only temporarily [UPDATE - the line's back up, though not yet "fixed"]), since while I write this I have no Internet connectivity other than my cell phone (and thank goodness for that, at lesast I can still get my email. This kind of thing makes me wonder whether perhaps I should look into whether I can get a T1 (or a fractional T1) installed here. I've tried cable, but they don't allow servers, and the upload speed stinks. SDSL is pretty good in terms of speed, but the reliability has sometimes been considerably worse than cable (which is saying something). There's got to be a better way.
Seems to me that if services that rely on broadband are ever going to take off, the broadband industry is going to have to get much better. Based on more than two years' experience with cable and DSL, things seem to be getting worse, not better. OTOH, I could just be really peeved at the moment, and not seeing as clearly as I might.