Online Shopping Takes Toll on ISPs

Increased holiday shopping and seasonal cold weather conspired to make getting online harder in November than at any time during the past six months, according to the latest report from Inverse Network Technology.

The company’s November report found that average call failure rates for major Internet service providers (ISPs) jumped in November, coming in higher than they have since April. The biggest month-to-month rise occurred during the evening (6 p.m. to midnight) period when consumers are most active on the Net. The percentage of failed call attempts rose nearly two percent, from 6.8 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November.

Despite these numbers, the industry has shown improvement over last year’s holiday crunch. It performed nearly 20 percent better in evening hour call failure rate than last year, when the November CFR was 10.5 percent.

Shopping is only part of the reason more people are dialing their ISPs this time of year, according to Mike Watters, Inverse President and CEO.

“This is the time of year when the number of dial-in access attempts normally shows an upswing due in part to climate changes — people are simply staying indoors more,” he said.

AT&T WorldNet Service, which had an evening-hour CFR of 1.6 percent, and Southwestern Bell Internet Services, with 1.8 percent, were the best performers this month. Six other ISPs — Cable & Wireless Internet, Pacific Bell Internet, IBM Global Network, Sprint Business, BellSouth.net, and Bell Atlantic.net — had rates of less than three percent. At the other end of the spectrum, Inverse found seven ISPs with evening-hour CFRs exceeding 10 percent, with the worst performer failing to complete 17.5 of every 100 calls.

Inverse’s Measurement Service measures ISP results in 42 metropolitan regions selected to represent a majority of the U.S. Internet community. Measurements are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a two-week period each month.

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