Spam crunch delays Allstream e-mail

Allstream Inc. – the former AT&T Canada Inc. – has had some problems with its Internet access services in the last few weeks, but the company says the problems were not related to its transition from the

domain to e-mail addresses ending in

Two unrelated problems, involving a mail server and an authentication server, have delayed e-mails and prevented some customers getting access to the Internet at different times in recent weeks, company spokeswoman May Chong said. “”We had just communicated to users about the migration and then these incidents occurred,”” she said, but she denied that the migration to new addresses had any bearing on the problems.

Chong said a problem with a mail server caused delays in the delivery of e-mail, and these delays were made worse by a high volume of spam coming through the server. The lag time averaged 30 to 60 minutes, Chong said. received one report of mail being delayed for days, and messages addressed to getting through faster than those addressed to Chong did not deny delays of a couple of days might have occurred but said most mail was not delayed that long. “”That is the extreme,”” she said.

Toronto computer consultant Richard Morochove, president of Morochove & Associates Inc., said he has heard a growing number of complaints recently from e-mail users about delivery delays that he believes are caused by increased volumes of spam clogging up Internet service providers’ (ISPs) mail servers.

Spam is causing increasing problems not just because of growing volumes of incoming spam but because of viruses that cause their victims’ computers to send out spam, Morochove said. Some ISPs have resorted to cutting off service temporarily to people whose virus-infected computers are generating large volumes of mail, he added.

Chong said the other problem affecting Allstream’s service involved an authentication server – a machine whose job is to check the user IDs and passwords of subscribers trying to log on to the Internet. One server failed on two separate occasions, Chong said, with the result that some Allstream customers were unable to get Internet connections. Because the ISP uses multiple authentication servers, not all customers were affected, she said.

Although the same authentication server failed twice, Chong said, the system itself was not found to be faulty and is now back in service and working properly. “”It wasn’t a clunker in any way.””

Chong said she could not provide details on the exact times or durations of the outages. Information about the problems was made available to customers through Allstream’s interactive voice response telephone-support lines when they occurred, she said.

Allstream – which changed its name in mid-June – told its customers in mid-November that their e-mail addresses would be changing from its old domain to That changeover is still in progress, Chong said, and is going smoothly.

In early December, the company announced a high availability Internet access service, designed for business customers, that it claimed will ensure uninterrupted Internet access by using a secondary Internet connection that is automatically put into service if the primary connection fails.

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Grant Buckler
Grant Buckler
Freelance journalist specializing in information technology, telecommunications, energy & clean tech. Theatre-lover & trainee hobby farmer.

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