AT&T Doesn't Have to Care
When is the Internet not the Internet? When your ISP can't be bothered to see to it that your e-mail traffic gets through, answers one reader, speaking about the company formerly known as SBC and now calling itself AT&T.
"Is it my imagination or is the U.S. infrastructure imploding?" the reader writes. "Recently on several occasions I have not been able to reach customers on the Internet - people that I am in touch with every day or several times a week.
In the first case, I called my ISP, AT&T, to ask what the problem was. They investigated my line. They investigated my router. They investigated my computer and declared 'no problem.' But I continued to insist that there was a problem. Finally, I downloaded a 30-day free route tracer and tracked down the culprit." The problem wasn't exactly AT&T's fault "It was a router on a leg not owned by AT&T but by another backbone owner," the reader writes. "It had a 15-second transmission lag. No, not a good 15-ms transmission lag - a 15 second read lifetime transmission lag.
All my efforts were timing out. My helpful ISP said 'See no problem. It is their problem. We are asking them to fix it.' And eventually it was fixed or it evolved or something." Then just recently the reader again had a problem. "Once again I called my foreign technical helpers at AT&T," the reader writes. "They investigated my line. They investigated my router. They investigated my computer and told me 'We cannot figure out why your computer has this problem.
I told them that they must have a router issue. The DNS was resolving correctly but my pings were timing out. So they put me on hold to investigate. Sure as the day arrives, they returned and told me that router FTWOCXAR was down and would be back up in about three hours. I asked why I was not being routed around the down router. No answer. I pointed out that the router above that router must be misprogrammed because it was not rerouting traffic - just sending it to the down node. No answer. When I asked who I could take these concerns to get them addressed, they told me they were making a note of it. Thank you. Have a nice day." "I have realized something," the reader concludes. "We have a plan. We have implementers. But we have no overseer to make sure that the implementers actually do their job correctly. When they do not, that is when the Internet is not the Internet."
At least in terms of buying up the baby bells, the company formerly known as SBC has gone a fairly long way to stitching the old AT&T back together again. And maybe they're also getting a bit of that monopolist's swagger back. As Lily Tomlin's Ernestine character used to say, "We don't have to care - we're the phone company."....