Internet supplier denies customer-retention ploy

Summary:The legal wrangle between ISP Biscit and network provider NetServices has escalated

... which it has partially blamed on the explosion in "free broadband" from the likes of TalkTalk and Orange.

Now that the bulk "cease order", sent to BT Wholesale by NetServices to fully disconnect those customers who did not wish to sign up with ezeeDSL, has gone through, Biscit is contacting the disconnected customers to offer them free reconnection to Biscit/V21, said Paterson.

Paterson said he was unaware of any improper link between NetServices and ezeeDSL. He did, however, say that he hoped the regulator Ofcom would "have the power going forward to make sure that consumers are not stranded in a similar way", and tentatively voiced his support for MAC regulation.

"If a customer wants to migrate away from us to some other [provider], there is an administrative cost involved. However, if Ofcom imposes upon the whole industry that there will be no charge for MAC codes, then so be it. If they can force companies such as NetServices to release MAC codes irrespective of commercial dispute, then great," said Paterson.

NetServices replied angrily to the allegations on Monday, claiming that Paterson's comments regarding bandwidth-measuring technology were "false and misleading".

"Consistent Radius accounting data was provided throughout the length of the contract," a NetServices statement read. "NetServices throughout the first half of 2006 constantly made reference to, and in fact assisted V21 in identifying their high-usage customers. The amount of bandwidth that was being used by V21 was significantly in excess of the level to which they were paying.

"The acknowledgement of the scale of the high bandwidth usage was eventually accepted by V21 in July 2006 when NetServices reluctantly traffic shaped V21's capacity to the 100MB of bandwidth set in the contract.  The resulting impact on V21's customers and support calls received by them forced them to acknowledge their excess usage."

The statement added that Paterson "elected to buy the company after due diligence and in the full knowledge that we expected to be paid for the debt. The delays in raising the invoice include a number of issues surrounding the difficulties V21 was facing and their technical ability to interpret the data on their systems."

As well as describing "outstanding bills for tails and central pipe rentals" as amounting to "significantly more than this burst bandwidth invoice", NetServices claimed Biscit had not honoured an agreement to repay £50k per week and had been "unwilling or unable to provide any financial information to support an application for further credit".

NetServices also denied any special relationship with ezeeDSL, saying they were used "purely as a result of their previous track record in this field".

Topics: Networking


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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