Three hour fiber outage this morning

USInternet decided to do some service-interrupting scheduled maintenance this morning.

Apparently they swapped out some fiber switches.

All-in-all I was down for three hours. Needless to say, I was not happy. So I sent them an email:

At approximately 9:40 this morning my fiber connection stopped working.

I was at work so I couldn’t do any troubleshooting right away.

I headed home around Noon and since my connection was still down at 12:20 or so I called the support line. I did get connected almost immediately to a tech, and he discovered the problem right away, so kudos for that.

The connection came back up at approximately 12:45 pm.

But.

The outage appears to have been service-interrupting, scheduled, maintenance. In the middle of the day. With no notification of your customers.

I am paying elevated prices for “Business Class” service. The term “Business Class” implies to me that it should include business class up-time, during business hours. I’m not expecting five nines of up-time. But with today’s 3 hour outage you are barely going to make three nines.

When I asked the tech if there was an email list I could get on for maintenance announcements he told me that he wished there were and that he would like to be on it too. So apparently you do scheduled maintenance and don’t even tell your front-line support people so they can answer questions.

I’ve been in IT for over 14 years now, and if I did this kind of stuff I’d get fired. This is the kind of stuff I would expect from “Jim Bob’s Internet and Bait Company”, not a large company like US Internet.

I understand that most of your customers are residential and you would expect them to be at work at 9:40 am. But you did force me into “Business Class” service since I host some web sites, and this outage did impact me. 9:40 am is pretty much prime-time for businesses.

I also understand that it’s difficult to separate business customers from residential customers in a mainly residential area. But there are quite a few small businesses in the area you serve, and it would surprise me if some of them don’t have your service and if they were not also impacted by this outage.

Service interrupting maintenance should always be scheduled for off-hours, typically around 2:00 am. Nobody likes to do work at 2:00 am, but as an IT professional I can’t count the number of times I’ve been up swapping hardware or performing software upgrades in the early morning hours. It comes with the profession.

Additionally, no matter when you are going to perform service-interrupting maintenance you should have a method of notifying your customers. Mailing list servers are easy to setup and run, and I’d rather have you over-communicate to me instead of none at all.

Up until now I’ve been very happy with the USI Fiber service. It’s fast, it has low latency, and until today it just worked. I was happy to recommend it to my friends and brag about the price and the speed.

Today I’m disappointed.

I’m hoping that you will forward this email to someone who is in position to make some better policy decisions about maintenance in the future.

At the least you should setup a notification email list that your customers can subscribe to.

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