Broadband buck passed on Sydney failure

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Broadband provider Pacific Internet and national telco Telstra have been passing the buck back and forth about an ADSL network failure suffered by at least one customer in North Sydney on Monday.

Neither company has shouldered blame for the failure although the customer, PR company Spectrum Communications, reported the fault as soon as it was discovered.

Sam Hudson, a personal assistant at Spectrum, said the ADSL connection had gone down early Monday.

“We started experiencing problems yesterday [Monday] morning. It's not the ISP--that's what we've been told. It's been down all day,” she said.

Hudson said Spectrum was told the problem could be occurring in other areas but would be fixed in a day or so. “It's not very convenient,” she said.

Another staff member, consultant Agnes King, later confirmed that the link was not back up until about midday on Tuesday.

“We had been downgraded to dial-up which made everything hellishly slow,” King said.

Spectrum Communications is a customer of Pacific Internet--one of about 200 broadband ISPs that must buy network access from Telstra.

Phil Tsakaros, national technology manager at Pacific Internet, said the problems Spectrum was experiencing could be a “remnant” of those caused by weekend upgrade work to the network. Telstra had until the next business day at 5pm to respond to the complaint, he added.

“The DSL network was unable to connect. We checked from our end and worked with Telstra's helpdesk...We don't have knowledge of a [problem our end] by a process of elimination,” he said.

Tsakaros said the problem could have affected customers as far north as Newcastle but seemed to be taking down connections at random. An initial tunnel reset had failed to fix the problem.

“In this customer's case...it seems to be a random failure,” Tsakaros said.

A spokeswoman for Telstra Wholesale denied that Telstra's network had suffered problems in Sydney.

“We have looked into it and there's no outage,” she said. When asked why customers had been suffering ADSL link problems, she replied: “We don't know what happened.”

Hudson said that Telstra had on Monday initially told Spectrum that the problem was widespread across North Sydney, and that a technician would be despatched to fix the problem.

Instead, Telstra apparently fixed the problem remotely some time around midday on Tuesday, a fact of which the Telstra spokewoman seemed unaware of later that day.

““It was a fault with the Telstra lines. They called once it was fixed and told [Hudson] as much,” King said. “Odd that they would deny knowledge although it didn't really classify as a complete 'outage'.”

Pacific Internet and Telstra have agreed to meet today to discuss the problem, the Telstra spokeswoman said.

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