The Residential Broadband Users’ Association

February 5th, 2002

Meeting Attendees from Rogers:

  • John H. Tory, Q.C., President and CEO, Rogers Cable
  • Dermot O’Carroll, Senior Vice President, Network Engineering and Operations, Rogers Cable
  • Alek Krstajic, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Rogers Cable
  • Vic Pollen, Senior Vice President, Customer Care, Rogers Cable
  • Taanta Gupta, Senior Vice President, Media Relations, Rogers Cable
  • J.T. Pearson, Manager, Service Management Centre, Rogers Cable
  • Andrew Ho, Director of Network Operations, Service Management Centre, Rogers Cable
  • Scott Hunter, Vice President, Engineering, Rogers Cable
Meeting Attendees from the Residential Broadband Users' Association:

  • Christopher Weisdorf, President and Technical Director, RBUA
  • Jacob (Jack) Gryn, Senior Member, RBUA
  • Bryan Samis, Senior Member, RBUA
  • Daniel T. Baril, Senior Member, RBUA
  • Rob Borek, Senior Member, RBUA

Rogers Meeting Agenda:

  • Review of the Success of the Transition Away from Excite@Home
Presented by John Tory, President and CEO, Rogers Cable

  • Network Architecture Issues, Problems and Planned Improvements Involving the Transition
Presented by Dermot O'Carroll, Senior VP of Network Engineering and Operations, Rogers Cable

  • Call Center Stats, Customer Service Issues, Problems and Planned Improvements
Presented by Vic Pollen, Senior VP of Customer Care, Rogers Cable

RBUA Meeting Agenda:

Current Issues

1. Shaw -> Rogers Cable Asset Swap and Integration

  • it is very troubling to note that a significant amount of subscribers in these areas are STILL experiencing excessively poor network performance
  • data segment overcrowding appears to be rampant
  • this underlying problem, affecting subscribers in the ex-Shaw areas, has existed for more than a year thus far; tens of thousands of subscribers are affected
  • the worst, most problematic areas / primary hubs are as follows: Agincourt, McNicoll, Markham, Newkirk, Thornhill, Unionville and Woodbridge - all in Metro Toronto
  • subscribers are not being given resolution dates, nor are they being told what the problem is
  • when modems are reset, performance is momentarily acceptable
  • the swap has been a great detriment and burden to many of these subscribers in Ontario; the BC transition has gone quite a bit more smoothly
  • when will Rogers communicate with these subscribers and let them know what’s happening, along with when these long-standing problems might be resolved?

2. Mail Server Issues

  • after the transition, key e-mail addresses such as support@rogers.com and abuse@rogers.com fell into the hands of regular subscribers; how and why did this happen?
  • implementation of SMTP authentication is flawed: non-compliance with the auth:plain spec has broken Mac Eudora mail clients; older mail clients which don’t support SMTP auth are no longer able to send any outgoing mail; the use of externally hosted mailing lists is crippled for all Rogers e-mail accounts; Rogers SMTP auth interferes with the use of mail forwarders to Rogers e-mail accounts; official Rogers postmaster e-mail address bounces due to DNS misconfiguration
  • regardless of its benign intentions, the X-Authentication-Info header represents a violation of subscriber privacy and should be axed
  • why has Rogers not communicated any of these problems to subscribers, or implemented any solutions? Will communication and action be forthcoming?
  • with the recent outages involving mail storage services being unavailable, the stability of the Rogers mail platform looks suspect
  • when will web-based e-mail be deployed?

3. Mass Network Performance Issues

  • we’ve received an increase in reports of subscribers in almost all areas experiencing overall reduced and / or unreliable network performance since Labour Day
  • the rate of these reports has increased since the onset of the transition in late November
  • problems arising from Terayon CMTS saturation have grown considerably over the same period; thousands of subscribers are affected
  • Terayon cablemodems have supposedly been in short supply since December; is this true and how has it affected your plans for subscriber growth and service deployment?
  • apparent broadcast storm problems have been affecting subscribers in January with LANCity cablemodems (i.e. characterized by a solid receive light on the modem and lost connectivity); what information can you offer concerning these problems?
  • the reestablishment of local peering at CANIX / TORIX and other sites has helped to alleviate some of these problems, but the majority of them are still prevalent
  • the transition to the Teleglobe backbone by the end of February is also likely to boost performance

4. News Server Issues

  • binary retention is extremely low, at anywhere from 5-12 hours
  • binary completion rate is very poor
  • server throughput is often only a fraction of what @Home’s news servers delivered
  • there are DNS entries for pop.broadband.rogers.com and smtp.broadband.rogers.com; why is there no entry for nntp.broadband.rogers.com?
  • we are aware that news peering relationships take time to establish, but there has been little improvement in server performance and capability thus far; when will a significant increase in these attributes be realized?
  • we have logged many complaints from our members about news server-related problems

5. Customer Support Issues

  • busy signals and excessive hold times were reported en masse from the onset of the transition until about mid-January; these have abated somewhat over the past 2-3 weeks
  • after the countless past incidents involving a drastic increase in support line hold times and busy signals, why is this situation permitted to continue from time to time?
  • was the increase in busy signals and hold times due to the transition, or the massive influx of nearly 60 thousand subscribers in Q4 - or both?
  • the situation involving trouble tickets being closed without subscribers’ knowledge or consent has improved dramatically over the past quarter
  • subscribers’ machines are still being blamed for network-related problems without sufficient prior investigation, although reps have been regarded as being much more friendly over the past quarter, than in the past

6. Disclosure of Information to Customers

  • serious service-related problems that affect several hundred subscribers, or even several thousand, are very rarely disclosed
  • information that is actually disclosed is often devoid of any details or useful data, except for approximate dates, times and locations
  • upon the infrequent event that information is divulged, subscribers can’t check back on previous outages or problems because none of them are ever publicly archived
  • ever since our first meeting in March of 1999 we have been asking for a real-time, or near real-time (i.e. updated within 5 minutes) network status page; we continue to ask for this
  • current network and server outages are now announced on Rogers Community Television, even though it was said this could not be done; BRAVO!
  • Rogers remains very poor at communicating important information to its subscribers; will any new policies be put in place to change this?

7. Transition from Excite@Home to Rogers

  • the new DNS naming convention for subscriber PC's, which lists subscribers’ hardware addresses, poses a security hazard for subscribers and Rogers, alike; will the naming convention be changed and if so, when and to what?
  • we are against incorporating the primary e-mail ID’s of subscribers in any succeeding DNS naming convention; this would pose a serious threat to subscriber privacy and would make subscribers a wide open target to spammers
  • the new policy on acceptable packet latency is not fair to subscribers and does not take into account the different packet latencies yielded by the various types of deployed cablemodems
  • we received word that approximately 5000 primary e-mail address accounts were not properly provisioned after the onset of the transition, until 2-3 weeks later; why?
  • LANCity cablemodems and their corresponding DNS and DHCP servers were still under @Home's control for weeks after the start of the transition; why?
  • there were convoluted instructions for LANCity subscribers on the transition website; why weren’t simple DNS server names such as pop.broadband.rogers.com and smtp.broadband.rogers.com offered in these instructions, when they worked perfectly well?
  • Senior V.P. Alek Krstajic's comments about operating systems being secure was extremely irresponsible and even dangerous, likely to establish a false sense of security for less experienced users
  • cablemodem rental fees are apparently being charged to some new subscribers, which accounts for the general rate hike that was levied against all new subscribers; is this just a billing glitch, or a real rental fee?

Revisited / Pending Issues

8. Compensation / Credit for Faulty or Nonexistent Service

  • credit continues to look like it’s being applied to most subscribers’ accounts much more easily and without hassle most of the time, although things have deteriorated somewhat over the past quarter
  • credit policy is still inconsistent and unclear
  • early 2000 (lack of) mail service credit still never clarified to subscribers

9. DOCSIS Details

  • how is deployment coming along?
  • has there been any decision made yet on whether there will be any change in billing for subscribers with DOCSIS modems (and all other subscribers in the long run)?
  • how about service tier offerings? Have there been any developments on this front?

Estimated duration of meeting: 3 hours

Prepared by Christopher Weisdorf

President and Technical Director,
Residential Broadband Users’ Association

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