Tech News and Opinions (by Paul Spain)

New Zealand's biggest internet failure? (updated)

, posted: 29-Nov-2008 14:59

New Zealand’s largest Telco and Internet Service Provider has suffered one of the worst internet outages ever experienced in this country. Reports started coming in between 9pm - 11pm on Friday night of internet connections outages, websites dropping offline and widespread email outages.

The impact on customers of Telecom New Zealand was swift with not only home and business broadband internet connections failing, but major brands such as Dick Smith Electronics and Tip Top losing their online presence as their websites became inaccessible. Numerous other internet based consumer and business services were also impacted.

Some 17 hours after the failures began issues were still being reported. Just after 4pm on Saturday Telecom's Managed Service Centre were advising of a number of outstanding issues (including email service and static IP addressing) with no estimate able to be provided on when they would be resolved.

One Telecom customer, the organisers of the popular Parachute Music Festival found their primary internet IP address had changed leading to email, remote access and Blackberry service being lost even after their Internet connection had been restored by Telecom. After adjusting settings to ensure the correct path for incoming/outgoing email it was found that Telecom was blocking email traffic.

It seems today at least, that Telecom's motto of 'Connecting New Zealanders' is a good idea but not quite a reality.

Fortunately for Telecom NZ stockholders, the outage was outside of usual business hours and and at an off-peak time for home users. Had it occurred 12 hours earlier it's impact would likely have had an immediate impact on the stock price of Telecom which was up 4.42% in trading Friday to NZ$2.49. The Friday prior it was trading as low as NZ$2.20.

Update, 8.38am, 30 Nov: Some ongoing issues continue and this is confirmed by Telecom's Managed Support team. (Faults have now lasted for up to 36 hours)

Update, 9.41am, 30 Nov: Most authentication issues and email issues now appear to be solved.

Update, 10am, 1 Dec: Mainstream media have given this outage very little coverage today. Most of their reporting was early afternoon Saturday saying that broadband Internet connections were restored between 4am - 5am Saturday - no detail on the issues that continued for another day or so. Major IT industry publications Computerworld and PC World don't have front page stories on their websites either - probably because their own websites were offline during the weekend (despite them not being hosted by Telecom).

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