Eskimo North


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Dial Access Problems




     In the beginning we had our own POP here in Western Washington that
serviced Seattle, and via a combination of FEX's and call-forward busy line
also Tacoma and Everett and the east side. 

     Then when 56k became available, because of the expense of PRI circuits and
the fact that we could get a much larger coverage area, I opted to outsource
with a company called MegaPOP. 

     We still use MegaPOP today to a degree, but we also use a port aggregator
called Star Communications, that initially gave us access to Qwest, Telia,
UUNET, Grid.NET, and their own POPs, and for their own POPs they contracted
with a variety of carriers, ELI being one widely used on the west coast.

     The primary reason we moved away from MegaPOP was unreliable service and
the imposition of a 200 channel-hour CAP on initially dual channel accounts,
then they started trying to impose this on any account that was used for ISDN.

     Star seemed like a good place.  I had the founder and CEO's cell phone and
pager, and early on at least he would talk to me about any concerns that I had.

     Well, their contract with Qwest required a certain number of users
commitment, which they did not achieve by the end of the ramp-up period, and
Qwest abrubtly cut them off, leaving our customers on Qwest lines without
service. 

     So we moved customers from Qwest to other carriers.  Grid.net was/is going
out of business, and so we removed them from the list of plan B access numbers. 
So far though, the last time I checked they were still operational so hard to
say where that is going long term.  Grid.NET and UUNET are both owned by
MCI/WorldComm, so it's hard to say what the final outcome of that will be.

     Now for the last several weeks we've been getting reports of
authentication failures during busy hours, and we've been reporting these to
Star, and apparently this has only been happening with the ELI numbers.

     This information is third hand, I'm still trying to get hold of the CEO of
Star Comm to get solid info, but what I've been told by one of their employees
is that Star withheld payment from ELI because of the unresolved authentication
issues, and now it appears that ELI has turned the lines off. 

     At this point it isn't clear when/if the Star/ELI feud is going to be
resolved and we want to get all of our customers back in service as soon as
possible. 

     If you are in the Seattle area, use 206-268-2041 which is a Teleport
number rather than ELI.  In areas where we don't have an alternate for you to
use, we will move you to a different carrier, either UUNET, Telia, or MegaPOP. 
In the short term we want to get you back in service as soon as possible. 

     I have Eric working on removing the ELI numbers from the website so that
it will be possible to determine more easily if there is a local number that
will work.

     They have also offered me a bit of a price concession on other carriers
and this will be reflected in reduced pricing on the other dial plans shortly.

     But those of you who paid for time in advance on dial plan A and have to
be moved to dial plans B, C, or E, or paid for dial plan F and have to be moved
to dial plan D, will get whatever time you've already paid for at the plan A or
F rates on whatever network we have to move you to to restore service. 

     In the long term, we're working on getting our own Radius server up and
I've decided we're going to start putting our own POPs together where we have
enough of a userbase to make it economical to do so.

     Having our own authentication server here instead of depending upon
another company for authentication will also give us access to other port
wholesalers so we'll have more options.

     My feeling though at this point is that the fewer layers in the whole
arrangement the less opportunities for service disruptions and so that's the
direction I'm going to try to move in.