RealTime IT News

Excite@Home Mail Doesn't Deliver

Cable Internet provider Excite@Home is facing the ire of dissatisfied subscribers frustrated to the point of seeking legal recourse to get the firm to fix its faulty e-mail delivery system.

Over the past few weeks @Home (ATHM) e-mail services have been floundering in the U.S. and Canada. Throughout North America @Home subscribers are reporting problems ranging from lost e-mail, temporary e-mail service disruptions or receiving no e-mail at all.

Scott Greczkowski, Connecticut@Home Users Group founder is frustrated by Excite@Home's lackadaisical response to the network-wide technical problem.

"I don't want to go with a class action law suit," Greczkowski said. "I just want to service to work like its advertised. I don't think that a class action suit will solve anything in the long run, besides raising the rates for the users and fixing the service problem temporarily, only to have it all fall apart again."

"Its just really frustrating that you have to go through the rigmarole of screaming, hollering and threatening them to get a response," Greczkowski added.

A newsgroup policy specialist for Excite@Home (ATHM) responded to Greczkowski and the Connecticut@Home user groups cry for help. The technician told the group that Excite@Home was taking a number of steps to improve its current e-mail ills.

"The majority of the outages can be attributed to storage issues," the notice stated. "To immediately address this we have deployed additional MX machines, mail hubs and loadbalancers in areas where there are known critical problems. We will continue this effort to make improvements in the short term to get stability throughout our current mail service."

The long-term solution for Excite@Home's e-mail service is to implement new e-mail architecture. Currently, Excite@Home uses a "distributed" e-mail system where e-mail packets are served from regional data centers. Restricted by redundancy and capacity issues, a more robust e-mail model is necessary to permanently fix the problem.

Unfortunately the new model for centralized e-mail requires that Excite@Home upgrade all of its national data centers. According to the Excite@Home policy specialist, the upgrade will not start until August.

"The new model will allow for centralizing mail, and similar services, in national data centers," the notice continued. "Additional benefits include close proximity to support, high-grade facilities with redundant and diverse connections to the backbone network, redundant power etc., and large expansion capacity. We are targeting to implement the first NDC in Q3 2000."

Greczkowski wonders why @Home waits until something is painstakingly wrong with its network before the national broadband provider admits there is a problem and looks for a technical remedy.

"What that says to me is basically you could be seeing problems to the 3rd quarter of the year 2000, 'live with it.' That's what they're telling me," Greczkowski added. "For people to wait till the 3rd quarter of 2000 for a total fix is totally unacceptable."

Greczkowski informed Excite@Home that talks with the Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP law firm would continue. The Connecticut user group invites all @Home subscribers to report the problems they have experiences with their service.

The @Home service is currently available in more than 100 North American markets. Excite@Home's largest markets include much of New Jersey, Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Canada's Ontario and Calgary.

This is not the first time that Excite@Home has fac