News

AT&T Mops Up Switchover Mess

12/16/2001 7:00 PM Eastern

While other MSOs ready for a 90-day transition from the Excite@Home Corp. network, AT&T Broadband is busy clearing up the snarls that resulted from its cold-turkey switchover.

The Englewood, Colo.-based MSO had balked at the interim service contract offered by Excite@Home, so the high-speed Internet-service provider switched AT&T off on Dec. 1.

Because it had already laid much of the groundwork for a cable-modem network of its own, though, the MSO managed to switch over nearly all of its 850,000 AT&T@Home customers to the in-house service in about a week.

But it wasn't easy. AT&T took in about 1.5 million calls over the first five days of the migration, and long wait times were common. Since then, call volume has dropped, said company spokeswoman Sarah Eder.

There were 250,000 electronic chat messages that week, and indications are that activity has increased as more users take their questions online, she added. At its peak, the AT&T Broadband site was the 11th most popular site on the Internet for self-help.

"We are in the cleanup stages now," Eder said. "We did do this really quickly, moving 850,000 subs in six days, so there are bound to be things that crop up."

Although the MSO hasn't released exact numbers, AT&T Broadband did add 100 percent more customer-service representatives to handle calls.

"But that is not a function of it not going well," Eder argued. "It's going really, really well. We only have three percent of our customers that are not on the network."

Those 3 percent have not made the switch because their data records weren't properly transferred, she added.

Complaints about near dial-up speeds during the first week were traced to a problem with AT&T's own cable-modem termination system servers. AT&T had initially used the same configuration as on the Excite@Home CMTS units they replaced. Because the network doesn't operated at the same speeds, however, the units slowed. The CMTSs had to be reconfigured between Dec. 10 and Dec. 11.

"Traffic is flowing at broadband speeds once again, so we are all set with that," Eder said.

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