Verizon sues Covad
June 13, 2001 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Verizon sues Covad for creating thousands of false trouble tickets. So that's why my DSL took so long!
posted by josh (17 comments total)
I'm wondering why it took Verizon so long to catch on..?
posted by Dn at 10:06 AM on June 13, 2001

And I heard (no link) that Earthlink was suing Verizon. I feel like suing the whole lot of 'em as I wait for my DSL.
posted by caraig at 10:06 AM on June 13, 2001

Got a link to a page where we could read more on that? (Earthlink sueing V..)
posted by Dn at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2001

"The picture we have is of Covad installers being thrown into the field under-trained and under-equipped, while the company was over-promising customers delivery on a schedule it had no hope of meeting."

Boy, there couldn't be a more succinct description of my experience with Covad in two separate installations, both of them with Ameritech/SBC as the local line owner. Forunately for me, our contract is through XO Communications, which used to be Concentric Networks, and so I mostly didn't have to deal with Covad's fuck ups personally...
posted by m.polo at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2001

no wonder they never seem to have time to crack down on the spammers they host...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:22 AM on June 13, 2001

Covad is in terribly huge trouble. When I used to work at [insert big ISP here] Covad went from being the friendliest most helpful CLEC [competitive local exchange carrier, ie providing DSL but not a telco] to being absolute monsters. For the new lines we were putting in, the rule became you [the ISP] could open two trouble tickets with Covad for trouble on the line, and after that, the customer would have the option to pay for the work themselves or cancel the circuit. This was even in cases where the line was stolen by the telco, screwed up by Covad or otherwise messed up by people whose responsibilities should have been to fix it.

If you are not a telco [and even somewhat if you are] DSL is a cost nightmare. DSL circuits for us did not turn a profit until I think the 6th or 7th month after activation. But then it starts to pay off big. Covad has no direct contact with customers, so their nightmares became our nightmares. I finally quit because I could no longer deal with lying to customers and providing bad service so people other than me could hope to turn a profit. My honest opinion is that anything that requires the kind of company-cooperation and reliance on older hardware/infrastructure that DSL currently does is going to have a tough time being a profitable enterprise for anyone that doesn't already own the lines [like the telco]. It's grim as heck.
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2001

Covad Covad Covad. They've definetly had problems, with ILEC's being slow on delivering lines/co-locating-space, but they've got alot of problems of their own, not least of which is some of the ISPs they deal with. I tried for months to get DSL thru them, finally cancelling the order, and getting DSL from the local ILEC within 2 weeks. Then 2 weeks later, my DSL dies because Covad stole the line. After much investigation, turns out Earthlink had ordered the line from Covad on the day I first ordered DSL, but then cancelled it the same day. On the day I cancelled my request with Earthlink, they submitted the line-request to Covad again, but closed out the order in their own system. It's been two weeks, and looks like my best hope for getting DSL back, is to cancel my current land-line, and get a new one, and start the process all over again. Or maybe i'll just wait for AT&T to get around to wiring downtown Seattle for cable-modems (wretch).
posted by nomisxid at 10:50 AM on June 13, 2001

please help me understand this.

does the food chain go like this? verizon --> covad --> local ISP?

so covad was pretending that the top supplier had problems in order to cover up their own over-selling/under-staffing?

so, in this story, and verizon is a good guy, and covad is the bad guy, and the ISP and customers are just getting the short end of the stick? - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 11:00 AM on June 13, 2001

And meanwhile, everyone I know who has DSL procured directly through Verizon is singing the "My DSL (after waiting forever to get it installed and jumping through endless series of hoops to make it work) Sucks Blues." What's the answer - everybody get a T1?
posted by Dreama at 12:02 PM on June 13, 2001

rebecca: Verizon owns the wires between your house and their local "central office". Covad owns the big "DSLAM" boxes at the CO into which those wires run, which connect them to the network owned or leased by your ISP.

Verizon is required by law to let other companies use their wires to provide services to customers, but allowed by law to compete with those companies. So, they do as poor a job as they can get away with supporting their competitors in implementing new orders and resolving customer support issues.

Covad has apparently gotten so used to this, and so sick of it, that the corporate culture there is now to blame Verizon for every install problem. This is wrong and bad, but hardly undeserved and not totally unjustified — most of the potental problems with a DSL install are on the ILEC's side.

The ISPs and we customers are variously good and bad guys. Some of the ISPs (goodbye, Flashcom!) were run badly and never collected from their customers or paid Covad, so Covad can't afford to provide better service to its remaining customers. Some of us customers don't pay our bills on time, so the ISPs have trouble staying in business and paying Covad.

The potential good news is that the opportunistic and bad ISPs are being culled from the population and their customers are being picked up by ISPs that handle billing and collection well (hello,, so if Covad can stay in business long enough maybe these problems will be ameliorated.

But, the deep problem underlying the story to which this thread links isn't going away: Verizon and the other ILECs should be made to fold or divest their DSL businesses, and that will have to wait for another Justice Department.

(Wait, let me pimp Speakeasy some more: Static IPs! Free Linux shell account! As long as Covad's still around, they're my recommended ISP.)
posted by nicwolff at 12:31 PM on June 13, 2001

I worked at Covad. Based on my experience there, I can honestly say that Verizon/Bell Atlantic were the least cooperative of the ILECs to work with.

Verizon/Bell Atlantic routinely were to have provided Covad DSL-ready lines running from the central office to the customer's premises on x date, but when Covad did expensive "truckrolls", sending technicians out to install the lines, invariably there would be something wrong with the connectivity... electronics on the line, or, often, no connectivity whatsoever.

For the Covad technicians, often, all that could be done in such a situation was to run a loop test, basically checking for connectivity and problems on the line. Often, these tests would be inconclusive... and, yes, when these tests were inconclusive and you were paying a lot of $$ to have technicians out in the field, I'm sure there was a tendency to say "Open a trouble ticket with the ILEC", and to have the technicians move on to the next install. Still, there was no advantage to Covad to open trouble tickets like these; if Covad was at fault, they would generally be billed several hundred dollars per ticket.

The real truth in the matter is that Bell Atlantic was intentionally uncooperative in providing DSL service to anyone through any other provider. This wasn't just a Covad issue... that is why Covad logged all these complaints and that is why Verizon was fined millions of dollars for non-compliance.

What you are seeing now is an organized effort by Verizon to hurt Covad, to prevent it from ever recovering, and to destroy choice... with Covad gone, the Telecommunications Act would become a giveaway to the phone companies, and the real right of customers to have any real competition would be dead... unless you really believe that ILECs are more likely to compete against each other rather than engage in "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" behavior. I wouldn't be surprised if other ILECs also jump into the act and start filing nuisance lawsuits now. Unfortunately, it just might work.
posted by markkraft at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2001

I'll second markkraft with my personal experience: on my second DSL install at home (I cancelled Verizon after discovering that they were running PPP over Ethernet) Covad came to complete the install only to find that Verizon had in fact not connected the line they were to use.

I'd also like to remind everyone that the guy who comes to your house just wants to get your DSL working; for that matter, the Verizon tech just wants to do his job, and the customer support person at your ISP just wants to help you. There are systematic problems with the market and these people deal with them all day every day and are more frustrated even than you and I — please be polite to them!
posted by nicwolff at 1:12 PM on June 13, 2001

I cancelled Verizon after discovering that they were running PPP over Ethernet

It's important to remember that there are two Verizons. The Verizon that used to be Bell Atlantic, and the Verizon that used to be GTE. They are supposedly one company now, but so far as I can tell, the various parts of the company are still running things the same way they did before they merged. I've had GTE-Verizon DSL for almost a year and have had no significant problems with it. The actual line was installed when they said it would be, the self-install kit with the modem arrived only a week later than expected (they were running a special for free installation and apparently ran short), and I've never used PPPoE. Overall I'm pretty happy with their service. Now if only it wasn't half the speed for the same price as my old cable modem setup back in Detroit.
posted by kindall at 2:26 PM on June 13, 2001

I'm not in Verizon's area, but Ameritech (SBC's). My experience with Covad (trying to provision for Speakeasy) was that Ameritech took nearly five and a half months to deliver a line, because their people never contacted me the days I stayed home to meet them. Meanwhile, Covad went through its paces like a champ, with technicians phoning me in advance, treating me like a customer (except that their dispatch was congenitally incapable of cancelling Covad visits in advance of the technician contacting me, even though for most of this there was nothing for them to do). Eventually, one day, Ameritech informed me that my loop had been installed, just like that. (So somehow they got in without my help, damned if I can figure how.) Only then did the real problem become apparent: I had crappy inside wiring, with no connection to the bingo box, and running a line outside on the wall would run me up to ten hours at $80/hour. I passed.

And with a downtown installation, Covad was also fine (provisioning for XO); it was a stupid union provision in the tenant lease that led to all sorts of fun negotiations that culminated in an Ameritech employee doing part of the wiring on his own time.

posted by dhartung at 3:54 PM on June 13, 2001

"The picture we have is of Covad installers being thrown into the field under-trained and under-equipped, while the company was over-promising customers delivery on a schedule it had no hope of meeting."

Frankly, my experience was exactly the opposite. The Covad installer who came to my house knew exactly what he was doing. In sharp contrast, Bell Atlantic/Verizon took three months to locate the gray box outside my home.

Three months.

The real truth in the matter is that Bell Atlantic was intentionally uncooperative in providing DSL service to anyone through any other provider... What you are seeing now is an organized effort by Verizon to hurt Covad, to prevent it from ever recovering, and to destroy choice.

Amen, brother. Sing it loud and proud.

in this story, and verizon is a good guy, and covad is the bad guy

Rebecca, in this story, yes, but in my exerience, and that of many others I've heard, exactly the opposite is true.
posted by mikewas at 5:35 AM on June 14, 2001

I worked for a medium sized ISP and dealt with both Covad and Verizon/Bell Atlantic in the early and middle days of DSL.

It started out with Covad as the nice guys, who would actually listen to complaints relayed by us fromt he consumer, but then they just stopped listening.

On the other hand Verizon never listened, and seemed to have an unofficial policy to make everything as stupid as possible. Small example: in 3 months, 6 different managers were in charge of our account, some at the same time!

Both companies are a joke, to me it seemed that at Verizon it was on purpose, while at Covad it was circumstantial.
posted by FPN at 6:19 AM on June 14, 2001

If any of you have any doubt that Verizon is a big, evil, corporate bully, then browse through DSL Reports and see if you too can identify the source of 99.9% of DSL hassles.
posted by whuppy at 6:53 AM on June 14, 2001

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