Utopia!

Greg and Jill Jepperson gregjill at gmail.com
Thu Dec 22 10:12:12 MST 2005


I have had phone and internet through MStar/Utopia for about a month
now.  The internet has been pretty good.  Occasionally I get some
latency connecting to sites but it is plenty fast once connected.  The
phone service is decent.  On Sunday and part of Monday the phone was
completely unusable due to issues with the network.  That was by far
the most significant outage I have had.  If you don't have a cell
phone or something else to fall back on I don't recommend the phone
service.

Below are a couple of the emails they sent explaining the outages:

From: MSTARmetro <customerservice at mstarmetro.net>
Reply-To: customerservice at mstarmetro.net
Date: Dec 19, 2005 1:11 PM
Subject: Important Network Change

Dear MSTARmetro Customer,

When UTOPIA originally designed the network, we selected an approach
that would allow the greatest flexibility for peer-to-peer connections
among all MSTARmetro data customers. However, this choice in design
has also allowed malicious traffic to bottleneck the network—which has
had an adverse effect on quality of service for all customers.

In monitoring the network over the past week we have seen a marked
increase in these aberrant traffic patterns resulting in a significant
outage on Sunday. Deeper examination confirms that these traffic
surges are not from legitimate use but rather are generated by
viruses, trojan horses, or worms on infected computers attached to the
fiber network. These traffic "spikes" and "floods" lead to service
quality issues that you may have experienced as erratic Internet
connections and poorer quality video and voice services. We have
identified the connections where the problems originated and will
alert the owners to check and clean their systems, but meanwhile other
users are affected.

Please note that even when you have firewall and anti-virus software
protecting your computer, a virus on some one else's computer can
generate tens of millions of malicious packets an hour that can still
bog down the network for everyone.

In order to ensure stable services, we will be turning off the ability
to self initiate peer-to-peer services with other UTOPIA customers.
Very few users will be affected by this. Moreover, this change will
NOT adversely affect:

                + email,
                + Internet access,
                + VPN connections over the Internet,
                + Internet gaming, or similar type services or connections,
                + Peer-to-peer services across the Internet (i.e.,
Kazaa, Limewire),
                + Voice services, and
                + Video services.

This change will restrict peer-to-peer traffic between MSTARMETRO
customers on the UTOPIA network. If you are conducting legitimate
business with such a peer-to-peer connection, please send an email to
peertopeer at mstarmetro.net and someone will contact you for assistance
in re-configuring your settings.

Again, turning off the current peer-to-peer features will prevent the
malicious traffic from being broadcast or surging across every network
connection and affecting all other customers. Going forward, we will
work with UTOPIA to re-enable peer-to-peer services in a more managed
fashion that will mitigate the effects of malicious traffic.


From: MSTARmetro <customerservice at mstarmetro.net>
Reply-To: customerservice at mstarmetro.net
Date: Dec 21, 2005 9:26 PM
Subject: Message from MSTAR's CEO

Dear Valued Customer,

As we settle into this holiday season and look forward to a New Year,
I want to take a moment and introduce myself as well as provide an
update on current and upcoming MSTARmetro products and services. First
off, my name is Ben Gould and I have recently joined MSTARmetro as
president and CEO. I am delighted to be part of the MSTARmetro family
and am committed to providing each and every customer the best
Internet, Telephone and Television experience possible. While our team
is working to continually develop products and services that balance
innovation and value with superior service, I recognize that we have
to provide immediate improvements to the MSTARmetro services all of us
use every day. To those ends, I have outlined our plans for the near
future as follows:

Service Outages and Improving Network Performance

As you know from the email we sent out Monday, in monitoring the
network over the past week we have seen a marked increase in these
aberrant traffic patterns including a significant outage on Sunday.
Deeper examination confirms that these traffic surges are not from
legitimate use but are generated by viruses, trojans, or worms on
infected computers attached to the fiber network. These traffic
"spikes" and "floods" lead to service quality issues that you may have
experienced as erratic internet connections and poorer quality video
and voice services. Over the past week we have been working with
UTOPIA to enhance network security. A number of changes to better
protect the network and users were implemented Monday, which we
believe will minimize the occurrence of similar outages in the future.

Additionally, we upgraded our core electronics in late November,
enabling us to continually enhance your MSTARmetro services. This was
the first of many steps we will be undertaking to improve your network
experience by providing superior connections to the Internet -
connections that can grow instantly as your use grows. While we
continually work to improve the overall network performance it is
still exciting to know that we offer the fastest Internet connections
in the nation at prices generally below other cable and DSL providers.

Phone Service

We are still working vigorously to address the quality of the phone
service. With the upgrade to our core electronics we resolved many of
the phone issues for many of our customers. However, there are still a
significant number of customers with serious phone quality issues. We
believe we are within two weeks of isolating the root cause of the
quality issues and I will keep you updated on those changes. I
apologize I can't give you more definitive specifics at this time but
I commit to keep you up to date on our progress.

In addition, we have ordered new telephone adapters that we will be
installing. This will improve your feature set. Free installation of
these adapters will begin after we isolate the remaining problems.

New Products and Product Enhancements

Throughout December and January the MSTARmetro team will be launching
several exciting products and services, including:

      Enhanced Caller ID - displaying both the name and number of the
caller. This long awaited upgrade will become active later in the
month of January.

      New User Guides - with complete instructions for MSTARmetro
Internet, Telephone and Television services. Topics include
programming your remote to setting up your e-mail, and more. Every
customer will receive a new user guide in the later part of January,
and the guides will be available on-line as well.

      Enhanced Telephone Feature Support. - To provide each MSTARmetro
phone customer with a feature-rich phone service, we will be
installing new external analog telephone adapters at no additional
cost. Existing customers will be contacted to schedule a free
installation throughout the month of January. New phone customers will
receive the same equipment at time of service installation.

      NO Monthly Charge to Access to Video on Demand (VOD) - As part
of your MSTARmetro video service, access to our Video on Demand (VOD)
catalog is becoming available at no extra monthly charge! To access
VOD simply press MENU on your remote control and navigate to the
on-screen "Rentals" icon. There you will find movies that you can rent
and other content that is free of charge.

      Continually Updated Local, Fun, and Family-friendly Video on
Demand Content - VOD content that will be added throughout the months
of December and January includes:
          o Free BYUTV programming such as the LDS First Presidency
Christmas Message - check weekly as programming choices will be added
frequently
          o Free Karaoke on demand
          o Newly-released and classic Hollywood movies. The newer
movies even allow you to watch the trailers before deciding to rent
it.- more than 80 titles that you can pause, fast forward, rewind and
re-watch as often as you wish during the rental period. Note: titles
and prices will vary so check back often
          o Trailers of movies currently playing in theaters
          o Kids programming on demand such as Mainstreet, Backyard
Safari, and Scholastic
          o HBO, Disney, ESPN, Discovery and other premium channel
content on demand

      Upgraded E-mail Services - enhanced web-based e-mail with
valuable features such as:
          o Simplified, customer-friendly interface
          o Spell checking, auto replies, an on-line address book, and more
          o Centralized and automated virus and spam elimination
tools. Note: as no single tool will completely eliminate all spam and
viruses, we strongly recommend that you have additional anti virus and
anti spam programs on your personal computer.
          o Additional email storage space
          o Email transition wizard to assist you in notifying all of
your contacts of your new MSTARmetro email address

Improving Customer Care

Finally, we are very aware of our shortcomings regarding the support
we provide to our customers. Up to this point we have been outsourcing
customer support which has not been successful. We are expanding our
staff and bringing the responsibility in-house. These improvements
will reduce the length of time you may spend on hold, ensure we
provide you with more accurate information, eliminate unreturned phone
calls, and will provide you a single point of contact for all of your
billing, service, and technical support questions. This transition
will begin on January 6th and will be completed by the end of that
month.

In the near future I will be detailing even more exciting services
including High Definition channels and Personal Digital Recorders
(DVRs).

All of us at MSTAR thank you for your patience and support. Further, I
encourage you to e-mail me directly anytime you have concerns.

Wishing you the very merriest holiday season,

Ben Gould
MSTARmetro
Ben.Gould at MSTARmetro.net


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