ISP argument leaves 4,000 Australians without broadband

Customers suffer while companies bicker

Some 4,000 ISP customers in Australia were left broadband-less last week after a partnership between two telco providers turned nasty — and public.

The partnership turned sour on Wednesday night when AaNet/DataCo surprised fellow ISP Exetel and posted on its website that it had cancelled over 4,000 ADSL tail circuits that were used by Exetel ADSL customers for their ADSL services.

AaNet/DataCo claims it has not been paid by Exetel for its services.

The result was 400 Exetel subscribers instantly lost their broadband with another 4,000 Exetel ADSL users affected on Thursday.

In response Exetel spent most of Thursday resolving the issue and getting people reconnected.

"We have reached an interim agreement with Telstra whereby all of the circuits that are being cancelled by AaNet/DataCo will be reconnected by the end of today," wrote the Exetel Forum administrator on the Exetel forum site.

The problems started on Wednesday when AaNet wrote on its website: "It is widely known that AaNet Communications Pty Ltd. purchases Telstra ADSL tails on behalf of Exetel Pty Ltd. In turn this enabled Exetel to provide ADSL services to Exetel customers prior to Jan 28th. Today aaNet communications decided to sever that purchasing relationship with Exetel due to an unacceptable financial risk policy. Any arrangement between aaNet and Exetel ceases to exist from this point forward."

On its forum, Exetel said the AaNet/DataCo statement about Exetel's financial viability was "unsupported".

However, aaNet/DataCo's Lorraine Rose posted a copy on the AaNet/DataCo forum of a letter sent to Exetel of its agreement.

Part of it reads: "DataCo IT&T will order services for Exetel without prior payment to DataCo IT&T and Exetel promises to pay DataCo for those connections that result in an "actual service" within ten days of the initial order. In return Exetel agrees that the Customers that are in the Telstra billing system as DataCo customers, do genuinely and undisputedly belong to DataCo and cannot be churned or disconnected or sold by Exetel or any associate or representative of Exetel."

It then says: "In the event that Exetel is unable to meet its obligations to DataCo IT&T, DataCo reserves the right to immediately, sell, reroute and bill the said 'DataCo customers' as per this agreement."

In continuing in the theme of openness, a reader post on the Exetel forum site said: "I just think it's a shame that Exetel management/owners have pissed AaNet/DataCo management/owners off to this extent — be it financially or on a personal level."

Exetel's Forum moderator responded: "That never happened. The reverse happened and Exetel couldn't get away from the relationship fast enough to avoid this horrible situation.

"Exetel was meticulous and excessively well mannered in all of its dealings with DataCo/aaNet and went far beyond the bounds of any definition of reasonableness at every step of the way."

The moderator then claimed that aaNet/DataCo's Rose was eying the Exetel ADSL business but this was met with disapproval from the Exetel shareholders.

"Therefore she tried everything possible to make it impossible for Exetel to continue in business and when we avoided all of her nasty 'surprises' she just decided to do as miuch [sic] damage as she could out of spite and jealousy.

"f there's another explanation I would be glad to hear it."

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