BigPond still plagued with performance issues

Despite its claims to the contrary, a software glitch is still leaving Telstra BigPond customers without seamless Internet services and e-mail.

On Friday PC World reported that a software bug had caused problems with the delivery and receipt of e-mails for BigPond customers. But Telstra says there is no longer a problem, and the glitch that was affecting e-mails has been repaired.

In the past weeks Telstra BigPond has been affected by several technical issues in its mail service. The company recently purchased faulty software from a third party supplier. Although not saying what that problem was specifically, Telstra spokesperson Kerrina Lawrence said the bug "artificially increased the load" on the e-mail platform which lead to the decrease in speed from incoming/outgoing mail along with timeout errors.

In fixing the problem BigPond was faced with a conundrum. Shutting down the mail servers and repairing the glitch meant people would have been completely offline for a period of time. "This is not the preferred option when you have 30 million e-mails passing through your network each day."

The alternative was to create a test bed and try and to replicate the issue - which is what BigPond did. Although Lawrence said the tests proved successful ("the bug did not present itself in testing") and that normal e-mail services should have returned, customers still appear to be without e-mails.

"Everyone I talk to that has a BigPond account has exactly the same problem as I do," said Peter, a current account holder based in Sydney.

He said he was not receiving e-mails all that frequently. "I got an e-mail today that was sent to me a week ago." He also complained that although some e-mails that were sent to him once, they were actually delivered multiple times in his inbox.

Another customer who uses Telstra Webmail said since Telstra updated its software, Web pages have been slow to load. "Last night I could not even get to the Telstra Homepage site," the customer, who is based in Queensland, said. "I phoned Telstra and their phone support indicated they could not access the homepage either and did not know what was wrong or when the service would be restored."

Coupled with the bug, Telstra also experienced a problem with its mail stores last Thursday. Five of the company's 30 mail stores went down between 7pm and midnight on Thursday 9 October, said Lawrence. However, that problem was resolved and there should be no ill effects to customers as a result, she said.

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Howard Dahdah

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