Broadvoice Blames Problems on Telecom Carrier

Significant service outages that BroadVoice customers have been experiencing for a week is the result of a "unilateral" service interruption by one of the provider's carriers, according to an open letter to Broadvoice customers from a company official. The carrier, though not named in the letter, is Bermuda-based Global Crossing, which has been trying to dump its consumer VoIP customers in favor of more profitable enterprise pastures.

Significant service outages that BroadVoice customers have been experiencing for a week is the result of an unresolved 12 month dispute with one of the provider’s carriers, according to a letter of apology to Broadvoice customers by company President & CEO David Epstein.

The carrier, though not named by Epstein, is Bermuda-based Global Crossing.

Beginning on May 6, about 7,000 BroadVoice customers lost all of their inbound service and experienced interruptions to their outbound service, the letter states.

The dispute involves the carrier’s charges. “Even though BroadVoice has received bills from the carrier that inflated charges due by over 44% and, in some cases, reflected rates that are 13 times the contracted rate,” says Epstein’s letter, “BroadVoice has paid 100% of the undisputed charges.”

Global Crossing, now based in Bermuda, was a leader in laying high-speed undersea cable during the dot-com boom of the late 90s. The company suffered severe setbacks as a result of the dot-com crash of 2000, and has since reinvented itself as a global telecommunication carrier.

Though Epstein's letter does not mention the company by name, it is clear that the carrier he refers to is Global Crossing as only Broadvoice customers who were assigned telephone numbers controlled by the carrier lost their Broadvoice inbound service.

Recent reports indicate that other Global Crossing customers, including several VoIP providers, have complained about unusually high charges from the company for international call termination and other services.

The company, it has been reported, has recently embarked on a strategy to increase profitability by focusing primarily on large enterprise clients, and dropping consumer and small-business voice markets.

Epstein's letter says that the “12-month long dispute . . . came to a head, when that carrier unilaterally broke off negotiations and interrupted some of our outbound calling services and all of the inbound calling services of over 7,000 customers.”

Global Crossing declined to comment directly to Epstein's letter, but confirmed that the two companies are involved in a dispute and that Broadvoice is no longer considered a customer.

“BroadVoice was a customer of Global Crossing's from February 2004 to May 2005,” said Tom Topalian, a spokesman for Global Crossing. “We are currently involved in litigation with them, and therefore our policy is not to offer further comment.”

The following is the complete letter from David Epstein of BroadVoice:


Open Letter from David Epstein, President of BroadVoice, to our customers:

The last seven days have been very difficult for BroadVoice and many of our customers and I’d like to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. I also want to explain, briefly, why service has been intermittent or interrupted for some, and what we have been doing to solve the problems

On Wednesday May 5th at 2 am, BroadVoice began a major infrastructure upgrade of our core systems. This upgrade, which initially went as planned and had been tested in our lab, represents a substantial investment in future service enhancements that will allow us to add more features, new CODECs and additional user capacity. In retrospect, the upgrade could not have happened at a worse time.

On Thursday May 6th at 9 am a 12-month long dispute with a telecom carrier partner came to a head, when that carrier unilaterally broke off negotiations and interrupted some of our outbound calling services and all of the inbound calling services of over 7,000 BroadVoice customers. Even though BroadVoice has received bills from the carrier that inflated charges due by over 44% and, in some cases, reflected rates that are 13 times the contracted rate, BroadVoice has paid 100% of the undisputed charges. The heart of the dispute involves the appropriate classification of our users’ calls.  BroadVoice believes these calls originate from the Internet which is global in nature. We further believe that the proper resolution of this open issue has significant implications for all VoIP service providers and end users.

Fortunately, we quickly found alternate carriers who have worked with us around the clock to restore service to the affected users. Unfortunately, the combination of the above upgrade and the need to technically interconnect with these new carrier partners on such short notice has exposed some significant bugs in the newly upgraded system that were not present in our earlier testing. Our team and the vendors involved are making substantial progress on stabilizing the system and removing the remaining issues – but they are not done yet. We believe we have identified all the remaining issues and are working to fix them as soon as possible.

I am sorry this communication did not go out earlier but we have been 100% focused on resolving the problems and the team here is working non-stop to do just that. We have seen incremental improvements, and a number of issues are resolved, but there is more to do.

We all apologize for any interruptions you may have experienced, and we thank you for your loyalty and your patience. We will continue to work 24/7 to bring you the high-quality, feature-rich service you deserve, as we are committed to making BroadVoice the best VOIP service available.

D –

David Epstein
President
BroadVoice

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