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ConstantineM

join:2011-09-02
San Jose, CA
reply to Telco

the cloud

said by Telco:

Telecommunications networks are not some data network. Telecommunications networks are not the same as some Facebook or the next pyramid scheme dot.com shell company out there. POTS is still dead in vasts sections of NYC, even when one of the largest telecommunications companies on the planet is working on it.

Except that telco networks are in fact data network. Take a look at any tutorial on how a PSTN to VoIP system works. The call gets to the CO, then it gets to the internet usually right from the CO. Noone here is complaining about COs being down (that's completely understandable). In fact, it's pretty clear that most COs outside of NY/NJ are not down at all. And anything other than the CO part of VoIP can, in fact, be hosted from the cloud (as some insiders here clearly indicate); so, it's entirely CallCentric's decision to decide to not provide any service during a hurricane, whereas much smaller companies with smaller budgets can easily afford to provide such services.


UHF
All static, all day, Forever
Premium,MVM
join:2002-05-24
Reviews:
·Mediacom
·Callcentric
·Dish Network
said by ConstantineM:

Except that telco networks are in fact data network. Take a look at any tutorial on how a PSTN to VoIP system works. The call gets to the CO, then it gets to the internet usually right from the CO.

But you or I don't know where the conversion from TDM to VOIP is taking place. At the switch the DID terminates at? At CallCentrics switch? Somewhere in between? We don't know. So we can't argue that it was easy to re-route because we don't know that. Only Callcentric does.

I was actually thinking about this last night before they came back up, and I decided my biggest, and probably only legitimate complaint (although I had lots of complaints initially!) is that they could have sent a mass email before powering down informing the users of what was happening. But hindsight is always 20/20, and I'm sure they were panicking over the situation and wanted to preserve the integrity of their systems so did a clean shutdown right away.


ploogman

@verizon.net
reply to ConstantineM
From what I understand, CallCentric does not use Tier 4 Data Centers or any data center. They have their systems in their offices with whatever internet connectivity they have as well.

They should either using cloud or hosting or colocation services
within multiple (at least 2) Tier 4 Data Centers. T4 Data Centers have extensive power backup, generators, physical security, some are underground and protected, and they typically have 20-30 disparate internet connections to various top tier internet carriers.

That would also give CC the ability to scale up massively if necessary to withstand attacks instead of leaving everyone without service during attacks. And for storms, this would have been a lot better. Sure, reaching a call that terminates in NY/NJ might have been hard, but it would not have totally taken out CallCentric's system entirely for users all over the US and overseas. Really bad planning in my opinion. And they carry and charge for 911 service too!

I do not know a lot about voip.ms, but they claim to host service in multiple cities so users can switch on the fly to another location. Of course, they probably have some kind of centralized system, and I don't know where that is, or whether it needs to be operational, but overall, the topology of voip.ms seems better at least from where I am sitting.

Maybe CC can be more transparent and discuss their operations. I fear their systems and NOC is just in their office building which is certainly not a T4 data center. And, I believe the most secure T4 data centers are not in NYC.

This is not an issue of cost by the way, just planning. Using real data centers would not be a big cost issue for CC and they could even use hosting to get rid of reliance on their own hardware.

Hope the CC staff all made it through the storm Ok. They have been so wonderful and I hope they can make some changes and keep it going. Worst case scenario planning is needed though.

ConstantineM

join:2011-09-02
San Jose, CA
reply to UHF
said by UHF:

said by ConstantineM:

Except that telco networks are in fact data network. Take a look at any tutorial on how a PSTN to VoIP system works. The call gets to the CO, then it gets to the internet usually right from the CO.

But you or I don't know where the conversion from TDM to VOIP is taking place. At the switch the DID terminates at? At CallCentrics switch? Somewhere in between? We don't know. So we can't argue that it was easy to re-route because we don't know that. Only Callcentric does.

No, we actually know -- reportedly, all their TDM-to-VoIP conversions that actually take place at CallCentric's office are currently down (e.g. the free New York numbers). (BTW, my bro's Google Voice 347 number is no longer down, yet my CallCentric's 845 is; however, I'm not blaming CC for 845 being down, that's what comes with the number being in NY.) All non-NY and non-NJ numbers that are up, are most certainly converted to VoIP somewhere else other than CallCentric. So, it's pretty clear that this whole thing could have been avoided with quite little effort, just some good preparation.


MRcheap

@sbcglobal.net
reply to UHF
Callcentric never even refunded me for the amount of days their service was out. I don't care that the charge is negligible. For personal unlimited incoming number and 911 service they charge something just below $8. My service was out for at least 9 days. 2 dollars is still 2 dollars. It seems callcentric believes they are entitled to keeping the money without providing services just because the amount is minimal. That's like going to to a fast food restaurant and getting a sandwich that's been quarter of the way eaten and getting the explanation that a quarter of a sandwich isn't worth that much.

Iscream
Premium
join:2009-02-17
New York, NY
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
Thanks for rising this point.

Throughout its more than 11 year business history and 8 years in serving retail (end customers) Callcentric has NEVER had charged any, even smallest amount, in an unfair manner. Any requests for refund were always and still are handled with 100% precision. In most cases - even contradicting our own Terms&Conditions policies - Callcentric returns 100% money back AFTER a customer has already spent some, large or even ALL amount from their account - just to save time on talking to fraudsters and those who want take an advantage of credit card transaction system.

It doesn't matter - $2 or $2000 - Callcentric always returned 100%.

On another hand - many aspects of billing systems are fully automated in order to save money and avoid time lost on manually performing transactions - therefore systems do whatever they are programmed for while customers are entitled to open trouble-tickets when/if something goes wrong.

And on totally another hand (or shall I say - foot? ) - all Callcentric personnel [during October - since DDOS started and until now] had been overwhelmed serving ongoing technical issues related to DDOS and customers' settings related to that while it had been communicated to ALL customers [not once] that appropriate financial arrangements will be made and fair credits will be issued.

And on another foot - the outage itself lasted TWO days due to the hurricane. All other days, due to DDOS attack - it was a major impact on Callcentric employees and systems, but NOT for customers who could/was_able_to modify their settings and keep using our service without any issue. Or, in case of severe limitations - at least, a customer might configure an unconditional call forwarding and keep enjoying PSTN-like quality of Callcentric services. To say the truth - a waste majority of our customers, until the hurricane, HAD NOT EVEN noticed that Callcentric experienced anything unusual.

Have you at least ever asked about a refund? - you're welcome!

Thanks you. More updates to follow up later.


MrCheap

@sbcglobal.net
That's amusing because the first thing callcentric did once they went back online was drop my phone number and 911 service for being 2 days late on my payment. Whoops, sorry I forgot to refill my account for a service that was rarely reliable in the past month. So essentially you dropped my number and cancelled my service after I had non-existent 911 service for the better part of a month and an unreliable and mostly unusable service for the good portion of the previous month. The more amusing part of it is that once I realized I was late and wanted to make a payment, your website was gone for 3 days. But the second you went back online you sent me an email saying you had dropped my service.

I do have an open ticket that hasn't been answered. But it's nice to see you guys active on these boards on a Saturday. Though, I wish you answered trouble tickets instead.

ConstantineM

join:2011-09-02
San Jose, CA
reply to Iscream

still not an email nor a press release from CallCentric

said by Iscream:

And on another foot - the outage itself lasted TWO days due to the hurricane. All other days, due to DDOS attack - it was a major impact on Callcentric employees and systems, but NOT for customers who could/was_able_to modify their settings and keep using our service without any issue. Or, in case of severe limitations - at least, a customer might configure an unconditional call forwarding and keep enjoying PSTN-like quality of Callcentric services. To say the truth - a waste majority of our customers, until the hurricane, HAD NOT EVEN noticed that Callcentric experienced anything unusual.

Before the tropical cyclone, I have only noticed that it took slightly longer time to register with a SIP server. I use OnSIP throughout my phones, since CallCentric doesn't support multiple SIP registrations. I can understand that it's always difficult to fight a DDoS attack, and the DDoS never really affected my experience with CC. Infrequent outgoing international calls worked as usual; incoming calls were seemingly unaffected.

Moreover, I also haven't noticed that my CallCentric line was completely down, until maybe after 5 hours that it has been down. (This might have been different, however; I might have actually had some important conversation scheduled to occur; and would have had to coordinate an alternative accommodations at the last minute.)

I still have not received any emails about the downtime incident, the only recent emails from CallCentric in my mailbox are about my credit card being billed.

I think it's rather pointless to be opening trouble tickets and asking for 50 cent refunds here (I'm on Personal Unlimited). I'm hopeful that CallCentric will give out all due refunds automatically, instead of expecting to get away with their lack of Business Continuity Planning, as madjeff See Profile explained earlier (»Re: CC Disaster). If refunds are issued, they should be issued to everyone.

Would it help if I open a trouble ticket, asking for refunds to be issued to everyone whose services were unduly affected due to CallCentric's lack of BCP?

Iscream
Premium
join:2009-02-17
New York, NY
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to MrCheap

Re: the cloud

Sir - I do respect your opinion and clearly understand your frustration.

Yes, we're active on all levels - in trouble-tickets and these boards because the quality of our support is one of our key selling points (on top of quality of our voice and service in general).

Unfortunately, due to matters much beyond our control, we're overloaded 10x compared to our normal levels of "overload" - we don't over-subscribe our tech. personnel while always accepting more engineers to our company. Just to compare - normally we have 1-2 pages of trouble-tickets' headers pending in queue - during last month until now - it averages at 20-24 pages. All our guys work almost without having private/family time last 4 weeks. We're trying to speed things up, but it may take about one week more to catch up. I'm not saying the above to get an excuse - just to show you the facts.

I'm sorry about _what_ happened to your account, but unfortunately there is nobody behind that "evil" thing... Simply our automated billing system, many years already, at 20th each month sends e-mail alerts to everybody that a billing period is about to begin at 27th and everybody should make sure that their account balance and/or credit card information is current and correct. At 27th each month's the system runs a first billing cycle trying to bill for all products and services while notifying customers whose accounts had not been charged, due to one or another reason - that they have until the end of the month to add missing information or funds to their accounts. The same cycle is attempted each day until last night of current month.

At first hour (GMT) of next month's first day - the system removes all canceled/unpaid products from customer records and issues monthly statements (or alerts about them) ready on customer's account.

Everything above is fully automated otherwise it would not be possible to provide the service at prices we do it.

Our WEB site as well as technical support guys have ready (as many like to say "canned") receipts of _what_ should be done to restore by an accident missed/lost service. No additional charges are applied in order to restore any products (there are automated setup charges which are [also always explained by our guys] refunded once the service/product were restored).

It's rather very simple process to restore your products (and I'm glad that you consider it - better angry than lost ) - may people on this forum may explain the procedure in details.

I'm apologizing again that, due to events above and beyond our control, the system was unavailable last two days for you (and many more other people, unfortunately!) to add funds/credit cards, etc.

Thank you very much.

P.S. I may bet that many people _here_ will confirm that our system was available and reliably providing service during most time when our customer's side SBC interface was under DDOS attack (b/w - that attack is still there - it resumed by end of Thursday and began fading again around noon time today - the behavior is as usual; but it [the attack] doesn't get anymore to levels of load posing threat to our established quality level due to many layers of mitigation procedures and algorithms established during last weeks are still being applied).

Many thanks to hardware and software vendors who quickly stud up to closely cooperate with us on fixing their firmwares (I'll write about this and other things later, in more details, when time permits).

Edit - fixed typos.

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
Reviews:
·callwithus
·voip.ms
reply to MRcheap
said by MRcheap :

Callcentric never even refunded me for the amount of days their service was out.

There was an old Carol Burnett comedy skit in which there is an airplane in distress, a takeoff on the "Airplane" movies. After much difficulty, the plane is finally landed safely.

But 3 seconds after landing, the runway is split apart by an earthquake....

CC is not yet done with the aftermath of the DDoS attack. Debriefing is coming. I have no idea what that will include, but like the guy in the Levitra commercials, it will come.

They really never had a chance to do it yet, with Sandy happening. The DDoS attack and Sandy were two big floods, back to back....