PARKERSBURG - Recent interruptions in Suddenlink's email services has some folks seeing red.
Company officials say service has been restored for many of the reportedly 200,000 affected customers and they are working on remaining problems.
Reports began coming in late last week and into early Friday that the email service had been disrupted. A message later stated the company was aware of the problem and a vendor was trying to address it.
Service was restored, but customers were concerned when stored emails, contacts and calendars did not reappear.
According to company officials, Openwave is the vendor that enables the email service provided by Suddenlink.
"Early last Friday morning (Dec. 2) an extensive failure of hardware in Openwave's systems prevented our customers from using their email. Our technical leadership team started working immediately with Openwave's team on repair efforts," according to Jerry Kent, chairman and chief executive officer for Suddenlink.
Eight days after service was interrupted, Kent made the statements in an open letter to customers.
When it became clear the repairs could not be completed in a "timely manner," Kent said the company made the decision to "work with Openwave and other technology partners including Oracle and Symantec to switch our customers to a replacement email system. This decision restored customers' ability to send and receive email by late Friday afternoon."
"Around the same time, customers who store email, folders and contacts on either their computer or a local server had access to that material. We estimate they accounted for the vast majority, around 80 percent, of customers using our email service. The remainder, we do not store email, folders and contacts on their computer or a local service, could not access that material. Accordingly, we started working with our technology partners to move these remaining customers' archived material to the replacement system. Based on current information, we believe that substantially all material stored on the former Openwave system remains available on that system and can be moved to the replacement system," Kent said.
According to the CEO, the company is "working around the clock with our technology partners to speed up the process while also striving to maintain our customers' ability to send and receive email. This effort requires a delicate balance and constant attention, and we will not rest until it is completed."
The company spokesman said at this time Suddenlink cannot provide "a precise estimate of when archived material will be restored."
In the letter to customers, Kent also stated a review is being conducted, and the replacement system has "multiple, additional protections" built in, to help prevent the problem from reoccurring.
Some governmental entities use Suddenlink emails, but Wood County isn't one of them. The county has its own internal system.
But commission President Blair Couch said he and his family use Suddenlink email service.
"It started about a week ago. Our service has been restored. It was partially restored about two days ago," he said Friday. " We keep emails and have folders and use it for reference and calendars. I was concerned when the folders were gone. When it first went down, I looked online and saw the stories about the outages, which appeared to be systemwide. I'm glad they were able to recover the saved mail and folders. I can't imagine how many were affected. It was critical for me. I'm sure it was for a lot of other people as well," Couch said.
Couch said he was not contacted by the company, but heard secondhand the company was working to restore the system.
"Email accumulates rather rapidly, and it's helpful to be able to go back and access old emails. It's like a paper trail," he said, noting the outage emphasizes the need to back up or make hard copies of information that is needed to be saved and not completely rely on an online service.
Kent's letter also states customers can contact their local Suddenlink call center at the number listed on their bill to have appropriate credit issued to their account for the time they were without a "fully functioning email service."