MCI WorldCom said that software in Lucent Technologies' networking equipment was the cause of the poor network performance and service interruption on the carrier's frame relay network that started last Thursday, Aug. 5. The carrier is now in the process of restoring failed connections in its network.
According to MCI WorldCom spokeswoman Linda Laughlin, the carrier was upgrading a switch somewhere on the frame relay network when the device began to "experience congestion" and the initial outage began. Laughlin was unable to say where the faulty upgrade occurred or what the upgrade was for.
The network failure called into question the operating procedures of major carriers. MCI WorldCom did not warn its customers in advance that the upgrade was being conducted.
What's more, Laughlin was not able to say how customers were being compensated for the network downtime, but she noted that MCI WorldCom was seeing to individual customers' complaints.
MCI WorldCom makes service level agreements, or network performance guarantees, for its frame relay service. However, Sean Donelan, a network architect at Data Research Associates, an Internet and data processing company for libraries - and an MCI WorldCom customer that remained vocal throughout the outage - said that his company's compensation would be hard to come by. "Now we're getting the runaround from MCI WorldCom about credits for the outage. Our MCI WorldCom salesperson doesn't know how to find out what MCI WorldCom's refund policy is," he said.
The network congestion resulted in downed permanent virtual circuits, or high-speed network connections, that transmit packetized data in about 15 percent of the MCI WorldCom network. Customers experienced a range of throughput from zero to 50 percent throughout the country.