Weird TelstraClear Internet outages

I've been having weird Internet outages today. The Internet will suddenly just drop off for twenty minutes and then mysteriously come back. I called in the morning to report the fault but they had a 40 minute wait for service (probably because others were experiencing similar issues) so I gave up. However after the fourth such outage this afternoon I rang TelstraClear and this time someone answered straight away.

I told them that my Internet was down and that it was not an issue with my internal network because I had checked it all. The guy replied that it was probably spyware and that I should get my computer seen to. His hopes were dashed when I told him it was not spyware because a) it is effecting all my computers, b) none of my desktop computers run Windows and c) the device that 'talks' to the Internet on my network's behalf is a NetScreen and even this can't communicate with the outside world.

He said that it was not their problem because the online light was happily lit on my TelstraClear supplied modem and to his knowledge there had not been any Internet outages today (leaving me to guess lots of people like ringing Paradise in the morning just to catch up on Coronation Street). So I hung up and plugged my OSX laptop directly into the modem to triple check it was not a problem with my Netscreen (or the network cable running to it). I configured it with the Internet details provided by TelstraClear but on pressing Apply was told that it could not connect to the network using the supplied static IP because it was already in use by another device. Just to be extra helpful it told me the MAC address of the device already using my address. I checked my internal network and was unsurprised to find this MAC address did not match any device I owned.

So I rang TelstraClear again, this time armed with the rogue MAC address and all the MAC numbers of my devices (just in case they questioned whether I knew what I was talking about). Again my call was answered straight away which was very good. I explained the situation again and provided the helpdesk guy with the MAC address and he started going through their logs. There was a long period of silence so I tried once again to connect the laptop to their network. This time I was allowed on the network with my static IP but routing seemed to be screwed up. A reset of the modem fixed this and I was back on the Internet.

The helpdesk guy said he couldn't find any trace of this MAC address in their logs (but he did come across a number of incorrect logins to my account which was weird). It was very strange however that my outage corrected itself very soon after I contacted them with specific proof of the problem. I guess I'll have to wait and see how things progress this afternoon as to whether the issue has finally gone away. I only wish when calling their helpdesk it was not so difficult to point out that the issue was not at my end and something was fishy about their network....