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Telkom e-mail goes down

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Telkom, the country’s largest e-mail service provider, acknowledged this afternoon that its e-mail systems had crashed yesterday, and said that technicians had worked through the night to restore services. However, sporadic outages are still plaguing customers reports ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Telkom customers thought the Christmas weekend had come early when their e-mail stopped flowing late on Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday morning, however, it was obvious that something had gone wrong. Across the country, numerous services were unavailable, from e-mail sending and receiving to web site access and account management facilities.

Callers to thehelpdesk for Telkom’s ISP service, telkomsa.net, were first answered with a recorded message advising them that authentication servers were down. Once they reached a human, however, call centre operators took the default position of blaming customers or pretending there were no issues, until the problem was spelled out by callers.

When told there was a problem with e-mail, instead of immediately advising the caller that there was a system-wide issue, the operator asked one caller to explain the problem. The caller was then told, ‚You should have listened to message when you called in.‚ Only then did the operator confirm that the message meant that e-mail could not be sent or received. She also advised the caller that the call centre was ‚waiting to hear from administrators what they’re doing about it‚ .

No official confirmation came from Telkom until 3pm on Thursday afternoon, when they declared all systems up and running again ‚ and issued a rare apology.

The full text of the statement:

‚Telkom Internet services which had been experiencing temporary breakdowns which affected email traffic have now been restored. The cause of the breakdowns over the past two days was identified, faulty components were replaced and the service was restored at 23h30 on Wednesday night.

‚However, shortly after this fault was fixed, users started experiencing problems authenticating to Telkom Internet (www.telkomsa.net) for internet browsing and email, and users were unable to authenticate or access their email.

‚This was due to an unforeseen primary and secondary failure of a critical component of the ISP service. Technicians worked throughout Wednesday night to replace the faulty components and restored the service by midday on Thursday.

‚Email queues which have been building up due to the failure will reduce over the next few hours as emails are delivered.

‚Telkom apologises to customers for any inconvenience that the break in services may have caused.‚

Gadget understand that a total of 25 distinct services went down, including online registration management, mailbox activation, and a radius server.

Shortly after the statement was issued confirming all systems had been restored, however, Gadget still received reports that the smtp server, which allows subscribers to send e-mail from their Telkom accounts, was not functioning. One of Gadget’s own accounts that runs on telkomsa.net was also unable to send e-mail, and also generated smtp errors. A Telkom spokesman advised that they would look into the problem.

– Follow Arthur Goldstuck on Twittet on @art2gee

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