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Non-payment leads to internet outage

Residents of the Banhoek Valley were hit by a seven-day outage when the Openserve exchange which provides telephonic and internet services to the wider Kylemore area went down.

Attempts by residents to determine the cause was initially just classified as a network fault, logged on 5 December. Several users were merely told that there are no technicians available to attend to the problem and that no further information was available.

A local software engineer monitoring the situation was surprised when on Sunday morning the network fault was closed by Openserve at 04:00 despite this lack of available technicians. Less surprising was the fact that his internet was in fact still down.

Eikestadnuus started investigating the issue on 9 December and determined that the fault was due to a lack of power to the exchange. Further investigation indicated that power to the exchange was cut due to non-payment of the electricity bill for this exchange.

Eikestadnuus asked for comment on the issue but to date nobody from Openserve has responded. It was also learned that the outage due to non-payment was escalated by Openserve to a company called Excellerate. All these facts were confirmed by the Telkom call centre on Monday evening. Eikestadnuus is in possession of all the relevant job numbers and commentary on the relevant jobs.

On Tuesday morning Eikestadnuus contacted Excellerate and spoke to their Group Marketing Executive, Beverley Deans. She confirmed that payment- and strategic services had been outsourced to Excellerate by Openserve. Eikestadnuus provided her with the facts and questions regarding the problem. After initially promising to get back to Eikestadnuus with answers, Excellerate responded that although they had prepared detailed answers to all these questions they could not share this with the readers.

According to their service level agreement with Openserve they were not allowed to provide the newspaper with the press release until it was approved by Openserve. No-one from Openserve reacted to requests for comment.

Simultaneously, MyBroadband reported that several exchanges throughout South Africa had been affected by this outage. Yet, in a master class on being opaque no detailed information on the problem have been issued to users, no comment on who is responsible for damage suffered due to negligence have been given, and no assurance that measures are in place to prevent a recurrence has been given. On Thursday 12 December power was restored to the exchange.

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