InterMedia admits 'Net glitches : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Saturday, 2/19/00

InterMedia admits 'Net glitches, partly blames users By Knight Stivender / Staff Writer

Recent hardware glitches and some consumers' misuse of the service have caused myriad problems for some InterMedia@Home's high-speed cable Internet service customers.

An InterMedia representative acknowledged the problems after many Midstate customers complained of slow speeds and blocked access to service in recent weeks.

InterMedia, @Home's parent company, says it has worked to correct the problem. However, a company representative says some of the responsibility for those problems may rest on the shoulders of the subscribers, who may have been using the service incorrectly.

The problems seem to have begun around Feb. 1 when InterMedia@Home experienced unexpected kinks with upgrade equipment, said Sameera Lowe, product development manager for the company.

"To my knowledge, those kinks are worked out," she said. "Through trouble-shooting, we relieved the problem."

But some customers are still experiencing problems with their service. "Are they not on planet Earth?" said customer Mark Currier, who added he is still experiencing major problems with his InterMedia@Home service. "Even if they did decide to do a bunch of major upgrades, they never told anyone to expect this stuff."

The "stuff" drawing complaints include not being able to transmit data, use e-mail, access certain Web sites or simply get on-line.

While customers have voiced complaints to InterMedia, dozens of frustrated subscribers, including Currier, have sent e-mail or letters to The Tennessean in recent days, as well.

InterMedia@Home says part of the problem may rest with the same subscribers who are lodging the complaints. Several situations can cause problems for subscribers, including outdated software and misuse of the service, Lowe said.

InterMedia@Home is currently designed for home or small business use only. Offices with more than nine computers are not candidates for the service, Lowe said.

Many businesses get around this policy by using servers, which allow computers without direct @Home access to connect with other computers that do have direct access. At times, dozens of computers without direct @Home access can be linked to a main computer, or server.

The result is similar to too many people drinking out of the same straw.

"If people use servers, they'd be affecting other people's service," Lowe said. "If we think that we have 100 users in one area of town but in fact, one of those users has 100 or more people behind them that we don't know about, that doesn't allow us to troubleshoot effectively."

Some industry observers say InterMedia @Home's woes may be yet another case of demand outpacing supply.

Perhaps InterMedia@Home, which started service in 1997, was not prepared -- infrastructure-wise -- for such a flood of customers, speculates Vince King, CEO and owner of Small Town Communications.

Lowe said that InterMedia@Home has kept its infrastructure in pace with demand.

King, whose company provides cable service to rural communities around the Midstate, is not in direct competition with InterMedia. Rather, he said, he "brings cable to the little places" with the expectation that bigger companies will eventually set up their own service there and buy him out.

He's been in the cable industry for 30 years, and he said the current rage to get on the high-speed cable modem bandwagon is comparable to the mid-80s when VCRs first went on the market and companies scrambled to keep pace with demand.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 19, 2000

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