RealTime IT News

Oh! Canada

Rogers @Home, the Canadian importer of Excite@Home's co-branded high-speed Internet service, provides cable modem access for nearly 300,000 users -- many of which were impacted by intermittent problems with their high-speed Internet services during the past month.

Chris Weisdorf, Rogers@Home User's Association president and technical director, said the service has been in a shamble over the past three weeks.

"E-mail, DNS and DHCP services -- the dynamic host configuration protocol that subscribers use to obtain IP addresses and other info, have been highly erratic," Weisdorf said.

Part of the problem is that users have to change their configuration from a static, to a dynamic IP address. The adjustment is the result of Rogers@Home system upgrade. Customers were not notified of the change, so users with static IP addresses could not connect to the system, or were booted off the system altogether.

Right about the time Rogers@Home technical support was reeling with calls about connectivity, the e-mail system crashed and nobody could get through the overtasked phone lines.

Taanta Gupta, Rogers@Home spokesperson, said technicians are working around the clock to resolve the connectivity problem and that e-mail services have already been restored.

"We have been upgrading our system to add capacity since January," Gupta said. "Recently, we've faced two problems as a result of the upgrade. E-mail services were disrupted and some customers experienced intermittent connectivity problems."

Gupta said Excite@Home technicians worked with Rogers to repair the e-mail problem over the weekend.

"While Rogers@Home was working on the system upgrade, it was off-loading Canadian e-mail services to Excite@Home's Redwood City, CA facilities," Gupta explained. "The problem was a software issue, which was repaired with a patch over the weekend."

Allison Bowman, Excite@Home spokesperson, confirmed that the e-mail bugaboo has been squashed.

"Canada was in the middle of an upgrade to improve its performance, migrating from a distributive architecture to a centralized system," Bowman said. "Friday we determined the root cause of the e-mail problem, Saturday we patched it and e-mail services have been stable for three days."

A new DHCP server bound for Rogers@Home passed through customs late Wednesday. Working in tandem with the e-mail off-load to US servers, Gupta believes that increased capacity the server provides will stabilize the system and allow the firm to continue migrating users from its legacy system.

In the meantime, Rogers@Home is asking that users e-mail the company to receive credit for downtime -- rather than sit in queue for up to an hour on customer services phone lines demanding credit be applied to their accounts.

RHUA's Weisdorf said that during the peak of users' frustrations in mid-October, most customers experienced 45-minute hold-times -- if they were fortunate enough to get through to the service department in the first place.

"We are asking customers not to phone the call center, but e-mail us instead," Gupta said. "We will look at each of those e-mails on a case-by-case basis. These were intermittent problems, and many of our customers were not impacted, so we are not going to give a blanket refund. We are going to follow our regular credit policy."

Ted Rogers, Rogers Communications chief executive officer, compounded the company's reputation for poor service when he refused to answer reporters' questions after reporting a sizable third-quarter profit.

Rogers showed little remorse about the company's Internet problems, attributing them to the company's position on the