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Suddenlink customers experience several outages

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Suddenlink Communications system-wide email crash that began on Thursday has been fixed, according to Michael Kelemen, Suddenlink's director of government relations.

The company also had a total service outage for a short time in Charleston last week that affected 2,100 customers. It was caused by a copper theft.

Customers who tried to access their Suddenlink email late Thursday and on Friday got an empty email page template. Later in the day a message appeared that said the company was aware of the problem and a vendor was working to fix it.

Television station WITN in Washington, N.C., reported Friday that Suddenlink's entire email system had crashed. The station quoted Pete Abel, Suddenlink's senior vice president for corporate communications, as saying the email outage did not affect the company's Internet service.

Email service was restored on Saturday, WITN reported. But the station said customers lost any previously saved emails, contacts, or calendar items. Suddenlink told the station it was working on fixing that problem.

Meanwhile, numerous posts on Twitter said email service to Suddenlink business accounts was still partially out Monday morning.

On Monday afternoon Kelemen said, "all customers should now have the ability to send and receive email through Suddenlink's email service, and the vast majority should have full service, including access to all mail, folders, contacts, and settings. We will continue working until the remainder of customers have full email service restored."

An apparently unrelated outage occurred Thursday when about 2,100 Charleston customers lost all Suddenlink service.

That incident was the direct result of a copper theft at Appalachian Power's Chesterfield Avenue substation, Keleman said.

Because of the copper theft, Appalachian Power was forced to shut down the substation, knocking out power to 2,900 customers on Thursday morning.

One Suddenlink customer said she never lost power Thursday morning but experienced an interruption of Suddenlink services. Kelemen said, "The cable service at the neighborhood in question is fed from a different power source, and this power source was affected by the copper theft."

The length of time Suddenlink customers were affected ranged from four to six hours, he said.

Suddenlink offers television, Internet, phone, security and other services to more than 220,000 residential households and 9,500 businesses in West Virginia, making it the largest cable broadband company in the state.

Suddenlink has been in the news recently because of an increase in rates and a change in ownership.

On Sunday the company raised rates by an average of 3.26 percent. In a letter to Charleston Mayor Danny Jones last month, the company blamed the increase on the rising costs of TV programming, equipment, insurance and other expenses.

"Programming expenses represent an 8.5 percent increase annually in costs, with sports programming being the most expensive services we carry," Kelemen said Nov. 14 following a hearing by Charleston City Council's Committee on Cable Television.

Although news of the rate increase came out at the hearing, the reason for the hearing was Suddenlink's request for approval of a change in ownership. The city, which approved the deal, had a say in the matter because it has a franchise agreement with Suddenlink.

On Nov. 20 Cequel Communications Holdings, which does business as Suddenlink, announced that the previously announced sale of Suddenlink had been completed.

BC Partners, a company headquartered in Britain, and the Canada Pension Plan's CPP Investment Board, in partnership with Suddenlink's management team, bought Suddenlink for $6.6 billion.

Kelemen told the City Council committee last month that "the management of the company won't change, the name of the company won't change, and there will be no change in the way we operate. So from a customer and employee standpoint it will be a seamless transaction."

Kelemen also told the committee that the rate increase would have happened whether or not the company was changing hands.

Attorney Robert Rodecker, who was hired by the city as a special counsel in the matter, told committee members that rates were outside the scope of issues they could consider.

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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