North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Ameritech Service Quality Report

  • From: Charles Scott
  • Date: Wed Sep 06 09:18:04 2000

  You should certainly know about these things. There are scant few others
who have had more experience with Ameritech. However, I think while coming
close to the real problem, you didn't quite hit it.
  Also having some experience with Ameritech, I know that there are some
problems that are long term and others that are more receint. 
  One, for example is problems trying to talk to someone in the HiCap
center. For as long as I can remember, that's always been a problem. If
you got someone in 15 or 20 minutes, it was a stoke of luck. Historically
however, once you did, you got pretty good service and things generally
got fixed in short order.
  It also used to be that personel were generally well trained and
equipped. I think this is where things have slipped with Ameritech over
receint years. There's no question that downsizing Ameritech has taken a
toll on their ability to respond to customer needs. I think it's also
taken a toll on the people who work there, and that is clearly part of
the problem. 
  In addition, Ameritech's physical resources are being strained to the
limit. Unfortunately, downsizing came at just the time the Internet was
taking off. With a large expansion in data circuits and many thousands of
residential customers ordering second and third lines, there was a
trainwreck waiting to happen. A symptom of this is the rumored (not so
much rumor) rotating line troubles, where supposedly there isn't enough
local capacity to service local customers so a certain number of them need
to be out of service at any one time. I don't think it's any surprise that
in many areas residential repair is going to be slow.
  Another point I'd like to make is the way that many people have treated
Ameritech. I've seen numerous small ISP's, and even some larger ones,
publicly blame Ameritech for delays, outages and disruptions. Sometime in
blatant detail. I've also seen the effect on the Ameritech personel in the
field. Not only are they dealing with more and more limited resources, but
then are getting slammed by the very people they're trying to help. Not a
good combination.
  Clearly it all comes down to dollars. Ameritech has done a lot of cost
cutting. There's no question that it shows. They have also built and
rebuilt infrastructure to try to keep up with demand. At some point, there
needs to be a balance of quality of service and cost. Speaking of money,
we all know what the solution to that is--charge more. There's no
question that the PSC will approve rate increases to permit Ameritech to
solve these problems. In other words, be carefull about what you wish for.

Chuck Scott
Gaslight Media

On Wed, 6 Sep 2000, Jeff Ogden wrote:
> I agree that most of the noise in Michigan is about residential 
> repair times.  Repair times for leased data circuits could always be 
> better, but don't seem to be nearly as bad as what people are 
> experiencing for residential repair.  For leased data circuits repair 
> of previously installed and working circuits could be faster, but 
> doesn't usually take weeks. However, installs of new leased data 
> circuits is a different story. Delivery dates for new installs are 
> more or less meaningless and it can take weeks or months longer than 
> promised to get a new circuit installed. I agree that things get 
> worse as you start to move up to higher speed circuits. I agree that 
> waiting on hold to talk to someone about repairs is a big problem. 
> Coordination between IXCs and Ameritech also seems very poor at 
> times. As best we can tell the problems are not specific to Michigan 
> and seem to be occurring in all Ameritech states. These problems 
> aren't new, but have been building over a long period of time.
> My real question is what can be done about this other than 
> complaining on this or similar lists?  Are the PSCs in the states 
> served by Ameritech likely to take effective action? The Michigan PSC 
> is pretty weak and I am not too sure that they will be able to make 
> much of a difference. Is Ameritech likely to fix the problems on 
> their own given some time? Since Ameritech is now SBC, what is SBC's 
> track record in this area in other states? I've heard rumors from 
> other areas where SBC has purchased an ILEC that this sort of poor 
> service is pretty common, but this is only rumors.
> One of the claims is that a large part of the problem is due to too 
> few staff and that in turn is due to the very tight national labor 
> market. If this is true, it would seem that these sorts of problems 
> would be occurring throughout the country and wouldn't be limited to 
> one region or one company. How does Ameritech compare to other LECs?
>    -Jeff Ogden
>     Merit