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E-mail overload sends 10,000 e-mails into oblivion

Thu, 03/21/2002 - 7:00pm
Sean Silcoff

Copyright 2002 National Post, All Rights Reserved

National Post (f/k/a The Financial Post)…03/22/2002

From LexisNexis

MONTREAL - Videotron Ltee, Quebec's largest cable company, says it will apologize to more than 300,000 of its Internet customers after losing an estimated 10,000 to 12,500 e-mails Tuesday night.

Videotron spokesman Jean-Paul Galarneau says the e-mails "went into the nothingness" when one of the company's servers crashed for about 30 minutes during peak traffic time, which is between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. "This is the first time we've lost e-mail like that," he said, noting Videotron typically handles up to 2.5-million e-mail messages per day. "We didn't receive many complaints."

That could be because the lost e-mails amount to less than one-half of one percent of the daily traffic. And most of them won't be missed: An estimated 50 percent to 60 percent of the transmissions sent to Videotron customers are junk e-mails.

Still, the marketing department "is working on a letter for an apology" which will be sent by early next week, Mr. Galarneau said.

The server crashed thanks to "too much e-mail at the same time," he said. "That's why we're rushing to get new equipment."

The company recently spent $500,000 on equipment that will double the capacity on its server system. But the upgrade won't happen for another two to three weeks. In the meantime, Videotron has added staff to monitor its bank of more than 10 servers. "It should not happen again," Mr. Galarneau said.

Rogers Communications Inc. experienced similar problems in September 2000 and January 2001, when customers of its Excite@Home service lost e-mail and Internet access. The service was provided by U.S.-based @Home Corp., which was plagued by chronic technical difficulties as customers signed up in unexpected droves. In October, @Home filed for bankruptcy protection and on Feb. 28, closed its doors. Rogers has since set up its own high-speed network.

Videotron's Internet customer base has grown steadily in recent months, adding up to 2,000 new subscribers per week. More than 80 percent of its clients subscribe to the high-speed service.

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