Digital subscriber line customers in the Northeast have been plagued with network problems that have left many without services for nearly a month. At one point, DSL business and residential customers in almost 75 percent of Massachusetts and cities throughout the Northeast couldn’t establish a connection, and those that could, reported sluggish download speeds. That, coupled with a reported spam attack which crippled five of Verizon’s email servers Wednesday morning, has many customers wondering what officials are doing to keep the networks up and running.
As these systems come back online, many customers are wondering whether future incidents will take as long to resolve. Affected customers said Verizon officials were slow to even acknowledge a breakdown of its network. Larry Plumb, Verizon spokesperson, said that as of Monday there had been no network outages in the Northeast region, just some slow throughput problems. This, despite a voice mail message at its main customer support number telling customers to remain patient until technicians resolved the problem. Repeated requests for information were ignored.
In a letter obtained by internetnews.com from one affected customer, dated Nov. 17, Verizon tech support staff acknowledged a problem in its network: “…I do apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you. Unfortunately, we are not able to contact you via the telephone because we do not have the facilities to contact you with. We are currently experiencing a network outage in your area. At this time, network engineers are actively working on the issue and are taking step to prevent a similar outage in the future. We realize that, because of the overwhelming response of our customers, our level of quality has not kept pace with the growth of our business. We are constantly working to improve the quality of our service, and I am sure that any future issues will be resolved in a timely and efficient manner.”
The slow throughput problem refers to the speed at which DSL customers upload and download pages while surfing on the Internet. While the speed rates vary, Verizon DSL promises download speeds between 256Kbps and 7.1Mbps. Customers have been experiencing 90 percent slow downs in some areas, with many getting download rates of 34Kbps, a speed considered slow for most dial up connections. The problem, which reportedly began with a technician in the Jamaica Plains area of Boston, has since expanded to New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Craig Bolon, president of Brookline, MA-based software development company Planwright Systems Corp., said the outages have been ongoing and spreading throughout the Northeast. “This is a really long-running problem with Verizon, although they are working very hard to fix the problem, it’s clearly a major problem,” Bolon said. “One of the Verizon techs said three-fourths of Massachusetts area was down and that it’s spreading to New Jersey and New York. “From what I understand, (Verizon’s) techs are literally working around the clock to solve the problem,” Bolon continued. “They’re even giving rebates for two months off of billing, but if you’re a business depending on DSL service that doesn’t mean much. They’re obviously trying to do the right thing, but the problem is gotten out of hand.”
The problem could be indicative of a network-wide malaise throughout Verizon’s coverage area, which covers much of the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. A look at Verizon Online’s DSL system status Web site shows connectivity issues throughout its coverage area, with no repair time in sight.