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Internet upgrade problems
perplex Blackfoot Telephone

Blame laid on modem vendor,
software 'fix' is in the mail!


Seeley Swan Pathfinder
April 1, 1999
by Gary Noland
For the Pathfinder

One lady is ready to call her state representative to see what can be done to get her internet connection working again.

Another lady took her computer to Internet Connect Service (ICS), the local internet service provider in partnership with Blackfoot Telephone, where it worked perfectly.

And another lady is totally confused by a series of dropped connections, spotty connections if at all, and browser-generated server error messages that make no sense to her. Another user, with two incoming telephone lines, switched from one to the other and finally made a connection after two days of fruitless effort on the original line.

Others spent days trying to convince tech support at ICS that nothing was wrong with their personal equipment, and that the problem must be with Blackfoot Telephone since all these problems popped up after a major upgrade on March 17.

The problem?

No one has really wanted to say until Tuesday morning when Earl Owens, Blackfoot Telephone manager, laid blame on the new modems Blackfoot installed on Wednesday, March 17, in a $115,000 upgrade of their system to the new v.90 standard for high speed modem connection.

He is hoping a software "fix" will be available Wednesday, Mar. 31, two weeks after the initial upgrade.

Owens said there were literally "hundreds" of variables that needed to be checked out before the problem could be isolated. Some of those variables includes checking out an individual user's modem's brand and speed, length of telephone lines, connection settings, and on and on.

Further, only one in 100 internet users were having problems, according to Owens who acknowledged that there may be more but that they haven't called in to complain.

In a telephone interview with the Pathfinder Tuesday noon, and in a news release emailed in response to questions from the Pathfinder, Owens said the modem supplier, Livingston Port Master 3 (PM3) was one of the top vendors in the country and was carefully selected from three leading contenders.

Since the problems began surfacing, Blackfoot Telephone has been in touch with Livingston who finally admitted to "...a modem compatability issue with a new chip set used in the PM3s," Owens said.

"After hundreds of man-hours of investigation and testing, the problems have been isolated to the new PM3s," Owens said.

"Livingston had admitted they have identified a problem with the PM3 and have sent a software fix for the problem to Blackfoot Telephone. It is currently planned to install and test the software by Wednesday, March 30," Owens said.

For many who thought they might have problems with their computers and modems, Owens said that "...when we make changes, it should not effect them, and if there is an effect, then the problem is ours."

Owens said Blackfoot Telephone has reactivated some of the older equipment which has enabled most people to reactivate their internet connections with a different telephone number (677-3189) rather than the normal local access number, 677-2002.

After the software "fix" on Wednesday, Mar. 31, people may be able to return to the old number, but should wait for Blackfoot to okay them switching back.

Owens encouraged any internet customers experiencing "...speed decreases or connection problems since March 17..." to contact the Help Desk at 1-800-649-4108.

"It is important that we know who is having PM3 related problems so we can get them solved," he added.

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