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California

Disrupted Pacific Bell Internet E-Mail Service Is Restored

Telecom: Firm says backlogged messages have been delivered. Some users say problems continue.

February 10, 2000|ELIZABETH DOUGLASS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pacific Bell Internet Services said Wednesday that it had restored its electronic-mail service to normal operations, ending nearly a week of e-mail disruption for thousands of customers statewide.

Company officials said they resolved the technical issues Monday and on Wednesday finished delivering to customers batches of e-mail that had been withheld during the company's network trouble, which began last Thursday.

However, some PacBell Internet subscribers said they were still experiencing problems sending and receiving e-mail after the company said the troubles were fixed. In addition, PacBell's "system status" Web page continued to intermittently list its e-mail service as either "impaired" or "bulletin," which refers users to a note discussing the delayed e-mail deliveries.

"I've been on the phone with engineers all day today, and they say everybody's getting the e-mail on a regular basis," said Michelle Strykowski, spokeswoman for PacBell Internet Services. "There are not even any outstanding customer calls in queue at technical support."

Pacific Bell Internet has about 330,000 customers throughout California, but the company said it doesn't know how many were affected by the e-mail outage.

Though the company stressed that the problem has been fixed and that no e-mail messages were lost, the prolonged outage is the latest in a string of woes for the phone company's Internet arm.

In May, the company suffered a "hardware problem" that caused customers to have trouble getting e-mail. A PacBell Internet customer in Los Angeles said at the time that he was without e-mail for a week.

A few weeks ago, a teenager hacked into the company's network and lifted thousands of customer security codes, forcing at least 63,000 of PacBell's Internet subscribers to change their passwords.

Ian Sitren said he has had enough. The Santa Ana private investigator plans to leave PacBell Internet after being a customer for several years.

"I sent 30 e-mails and faxes to them before I finally started getting responses, and then they kept saying hour by hour that they'd have it worked out by the evening," Sitren said.

PacBell said it still is investigating what caused the recent e-mail problem, but the trouble began last Thursday, when a technical glitch triggered an e-mail bottleneck, Strykowski said.

Part of the fix included adding e-mail storage and memory capacity, which has increased the network's e-mail delivery capability by more than 80%, she said. The company has seen its e-mail traffic volume rise 36% in the last six months because of an uptick in subscribers to PacBell's high-speed digital subscriber line Internet service, she said.

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