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Posted 19 Feb 2011 12:27:58 UTC

We have now entered the third day of yet another suspicious service interruption on the part of Verizon, the largest local telecom provider in New York. This outage has cut the 2600 mail servers off from the world just as the Spring issue was being finalized.

When things like this happen, there is always a tendency to be a little paranoid and assume there's some ulterior motive at play. We've tried - on this occasion and on the many which preceded it - to avoid such characterizations. But we can no longer do this. It's clear that there is some agenda at work here, whether by a powerful corporation or by some individual within who either has the power to cause these problems or the ability to delay repairs indefinitely. This belief has been voiced by certain people in the industry who are trying to get to the bottom of this, only to find a repeated pattern of mysteriously cut lines, lost records, a complete lack of accountability, and an uncanny timing of outages that often seem to occur on holiday weekends.

We know that much of this can be attributed to sheer incompetence. However, when these events happen in precisely the same way on numerous occasions, and always at a time when the most damage and longest downtime are the result, it doesn't take much to reach other conclusions. Add to that a complete lack of response despite literally dozens of complaints and the notion of incompetence gives way to a specter of pure malice.

The question is often asked why we simply don't choose another provider and not use Verizon at all. It's not that simple, unfortunately. We actually aren't even a Verizon customer. But in order to get SDSL service through our provider in New York City, Verizon equipment must be used at some point. This includes the Verizon central office and their copper under the street that's used for the actual circuits. Ask any DSL provider that has not yet been driven out of business by Verizon's practices and you'll hear all sorts of horror stories, ranging from lack of cooperation to overt acts of sabotage against lines belonging to competitors that are forced to use Verizon cable. We've heard the same stories from former Verizon employees and been told in no uncertain terms by current employees that less "accidents" would happen to our lines if we didn't use their competitors.

We could also solve these problems by moving our machines to a colocation facility. In fact, after an especially lengthy cutoff almost exactly a year ago, we decided to do just that. Since then, however, we've seen a number of disturbing events in the world that specifically affect our community involving surveillance, secret court orders, seizure of hardware, and the like. This is yet another lesson we've learned through the whole Wikileaks affair. In light of all that, we decided to continue to maintain control and possession over any machine that has any private user data of any sort on it. We simply don't want to risk any type of physical tampering being done that could compromise privacy and communications. For instance, a court order would forbid a colocation facility from notifying us if authorities were to install monitoring software or hardware on any of our servers. But if such a thing were attempted in our own offices, we would know about it immediately. So this is why we cannot relinquish control. And while we know this attitude will likely label us as paranoid in the eyes of many, this is how we have chosen to handle it - and this is how we believe we have the right to handle it. This belief is only reinforced with all of the pressure we find ourselves repeatedly facing in these kinds of situations.

With all of this said, we are continuing to try and get heads rolling inside Verizon. This time we are insisting on a full investigation along with explanations on how these things continue to happen. We will be going to the Public Service Commission with our complaints and as much evidence as we can gather. Any help in getting the word out is most appreciated.

If you are one of the many people affected by the cutoff of communications, we must ask for your continued patience. When we finally do get our service restored, it will take some time to catch up with the backlog. There is a good possibility some mail will have timed out, so if you sent us something in the past week, it would be a good idea to resend it. Please resist the temptation to hurl insults or projectiles at Verizon employees - most of them are good people doing the best they can. In fact, it is through their help that we will be able to finally get to the bottom of these disruptions.


2011-02-17: Service cut at 11:30 am. Problem reported to Verizon by DSL provider. A short circuit is reported to be on Verizon premises.

2011-02-18: Verizon gives "commit time" of 7 pm. Problem is first defined as "in the street" near the Verizon central office. Later, the problem is once again said to be a short circuit in their facility. Verizon makes appointment to be at our premises and doesn't show or follow up. The holiday weekend begins.

2011-02-19: Conflicting information as to whether anyone is working on this or not.
1:30pm - Service restored after "issue" dealt with somewhere in the field.

This isn't over.

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