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Inverse Releases ISP Summer Report Cards

For those in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Newark, N.J., it's the best of times, while in New York, and Hartford Conn., it's the worst. At least in terms of Internet access.

According to Inverse Network Technology's latest report on Internet access, Santa Barbara ranked No. 1 and Newark No. 2, as the only metropolitan areas in the country to achieve July call failure rates for dial-up users of under 1.5% (e.g., 1.5 failed calls per hundred). Santa Barbara had 1.3% and Newark had 1.4%.

On the other side of the Hudson River, however, failure rates were much higher. Of the 42 U.S. metropolitan areas monitored, all four New York State locations--New York City, Long Island, Utica/Syracuse and White Plains--were in the bottom quarter of the list, with call failure rates as high as 8.1% in the Utica/Syracuse area.

The worst failure rates were found just north of New York, in Hartford, Conn., where failure rates were 9.5%. Nearly one in every 10 Internet access calls in the Hartford area didn't get through.

The report said that call failure rates during the peak evening hours as a whole declined steadily over the first half of this year, with only a slight upturn (from 5.2% to 5.7%) from June to July. However, evening-hour failure rates showed a dramatic improvement compared with the same six-month period in 1997; rates that ranged from 12.3 to 25.5% last year are down to 5.7 to 10.7% this year.

In terms of grades, more ISPs earned Inverse's A+ and A ratings in July than ever before. GridNet, a regional provider headquartered near Atlanta, earned an A+ or A for all five metrics measured, and seven national ISPs--Ameritech.net, Concentric Network, IBM Global Network, internetMCI, Pacific Bell Internet, Prodigy and Sprint--were awarded A+ or A for four of the five metrics.

"We've noticed a definite seasonal influence on the grades, with performance improving during the summer months when people are on vacation and there is less competition for access," said Mike Watters, Inverse CEO. "We'll be keeping close track of how the same ISPs perform in the fall, and at that time may consider making our ratings criteria more stringent to make the top grades more meaningful."

The data for the report were compiled for Inverse's Internet Measurement Service, a benchmark study operating since June 1996 that measures ISP results for 42 metropolitan regions selected to represent a majority of the U.S. Internet community.