Phone exchanges blamed for failing Web connections

ISPs and telcos slug it out in mud-slinging battle

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are blaming telecomms operators for the poor performance of their Net services. In recent weeks, Dixons’ FreeServe has been singled out for special criticism as thousands of people have reportedly failed to log on to the Net. But FreeServe blames this on the failure of local telephone exchanges to handle the rise in the number of calls, allegations strenuously denied by the telcos. In a statement to The Register, FreeServe said: "FreeServe’s modem farm has never maxed out [reached full capacity]. FreeServe can cope with the demand from the million accounts it has. "Some users may experience problems at peak times due to problems usually related to interconnects at the local exchanges, which are the means by which the call is transferred to FreeServe.” The statement continued: "This is not a FreeServe problem. Many ISPs will experience similar problems with the local exchanges at peak times.” It's a view endorsed by Paul Myers, MD of The X-Stream Network, whose service came in for similar treatment after it offered a freephone number at weekends for people to access the Net for free. See earlier story. But representatives of telecomms regulator OFTEL and BT -- which operates the majority of local exchanges in the UK -- both vigorously denied that the fault lay with telcos and instead pointed the finger of blame at the ISPs. Nick Gibson, an analyst at Durlacher said it was almost impossible to say exactly where the blame lay adding that it would be both difficult and time consuming to find out. "In a sense, they're both right and wrong," he said, helpfully. Unfortunately, while the parties concerned continue to pass the buck and engross themselves in childish name-calling and finger-pointing, Net users in the UK look set to continue to receive a poor service. ®

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