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  Rogers high-speed service gets 'download rigor mortis'
Customers of cable company's touted
Internet link off-line for part of week

John Partridge
Saturday, October 14, 2023

Customers of Rogers Communications Inc.'s high-speed Internet service have been stricken with the very "download rigor mortis" the company has been ridiculing in a vicious TV advertising war with Bell Canada's rival service.

Rogers is attributing the spotty or non-existent e-mail and Internet access that have afflicted many Rogers@Home customers this week to:

Much higher than expected subscriber growth during the normally slow third quarter.

A technical foul-up caused by its own engineering staff.

A "major hardware failure" at the California offices of Excite@Home, whose servers handle most traffic for the approximately 20 U.S. and Canadian cable-television companies that resell the service.

To try to counter the problems, Rogers@Home has "offloaded" some e-mail traffic to an additional server in California, spokeswoman Taanta Gupta said yesterday. However, this has not proved sufficient and Rogers has ordered another server. "It's been a difficult week," Ms. Gupta said.

Rogers@Home boasted 266,000 subscribers in Ontario and British Columbia at the end of June. However, over the summer it unexpectedly experienced growth "not very far off the second quarter, when we added about 50,000," Ms. Gupta said.

Excite@Home's Canadian affiliates also include Shaw Cablesystems GP of Calgary and Cogeco Cable Inc. of Montreal.

Cogeco officials could not be reached, but Shaw Cablesystems' president Peter Bissonnette said Shaw@Home customers have not suffered the same problems as their Rogers counterparts.

Rogers@Home's problems can't be fixed fast enough for Suzanne Amos-Kinsella, who operates SEAK Communications, a Toronto communications and public relations consulting firm.

Ms. Amos-Kinsella, who switched to the cable company's high-speed link last May from Bell's Sympatico Inc. regular-speed service, complained yesterday that she has been without e-mail or access to the Web since last Sunday.

"It's practically putting me out of business," she said. "This has just been ridiculous."

She added that it has been next to impossible to get anything but a busy signal all week from the operation's toll-free customer service line.

Ms. Gupta expressed surprise at the length of time Ms. Amos-Kinsella has been without service, saying the problems have been "intermittent" and were at their worst on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rogers began its rigor-mortis TV campaign last May, with Bell and other telephone companies as the target.

After her experience this week, Ms. Amos-Kinsella said she is seriously considering a switch back to Bell.

"I'm not someone who jumps from service to service lightly in any part of my business," she said, "but I am the customer and I'm paying them a whole pile of money. All I ask is that somebody at least have the decency to talk to us and tell us what's going on."

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