Programming glitch stalls Internet service
A programming glitch in CenturyTel's office in San Marcos isolated several Port Aransas businesses from the worldwide web last week.
The lost access to e-mail and other Internet services was the result of an attempt by the company that provides communications, Internet services and entertainment to cut over to a higher Internet bandwidth for its Port Aransas customers.
The new equipment for the faster speed had been tested for a week by CenturyTel employees, but the problem surfaced when Port Aransas customers were switched over.
Although not every CenturyTel client was affected, the offices at the South Jetty lost the ability to send and receive e-mail between Monday, Nov. 17, and Tuesday, Nov. 18. A CenturyTel technician was dispatched to the office to switch the service back to the old system to allow for production on the previous edition of this newspaper.
Tracey Moses, spokeswoman for CenturyTel, said the company was attempting to cut over to new equipment to boost Internet from 6 mega- bytes per second to 10 megabytes per second.
"The whole glitch was caused by a programming error in our San Marcos office," Moses said.
The faster Digital Subscriber Line will now be offered to Port Aransas customers.
Mike Hall, a co-owner of the Family Center IGA Food Store, said the dropped service caused storewide problems, and management had to switch over to a satellite system.
Hall said he was unhappy that CenturyTel did not warn its customers before switching the service because his clerks were unable to process customer credit cards until the store installed the satellite.
"We paid a computer consultant to tell us what was wrong," Hall said.
"We do a lot of business online, and credit card sales are a huge percentage of our business. It is really important to us," Hall said.
He said a warning from CenturyTel would have saved a day and a half of trying to figure out what was wrong.
"I cost us quite a few dollars. We had a lot of frustration and a lot of customers waiting in line," Hall said.
Despite the glitch in service, Hall said the Family Center IGA is not going to give up on CenturyTel.
"They're still very important to us. It's amazing how dependent we've become on the Internet," he said.
Moses said residential customers who have trouble with CenturyTel's high speed Internet service should call 1-800-809-1410 to report it. For business clients, CenturyTel's help desk can be reached at 1-866-293-9170.
"They can report any kind of problem. It's our help desk for high speed Internet users," she said.