Frame relay delays create nightmare for two Mass. firms

By Michael Martin, Network World |  Networking

Imagine being responsible for a global frame relay network that's crucial to your company's sales and support operations. Now imagine your company decides to move to new headquarters, not too far away, within the same state. You call your frame relay provider's sales representative, arrange for a line into the new building and go back to work. Now imagine a few months later, with the move complete, you find out your frame line won't be going in for almost another year.

Ryan Buckley, manager of network services for industrial automation software manufacturer Intellution of Foxborough, Mass., doesn't have to imagine this nightmare scenario -- he's living it, thanks to a shortage of fiber routes between some Verizon central offices in Massachusetts.

And he's not alone. At least one other business in the Boston area is experiencing a months-long wait for frame relay provisioning, and an AT&T spokesman says several AT&T Massachusetts customers have had trouble getting timely service from Verizon.

The problem, according to Verizon, which provisions frame relay circuits in Massachusetts, is a fiber shortage -- specifically intercentral office fiber routes. Although John Johnson, a Verizon spokesman, says the provider does capacity planning to try to prevent lengthy provisioning delays, in at least two cases the company has been caught off-guard. Johnson adds that while the two cases are anomalies, other companies could experience similar delays.

Buckley's nightmare began earlier this year when Intellution decided to move its headquarters from Newton, Mass., to Foxborough. Buckley prepared for the move well in advance. In May he called WorldCom, which handles the frame relay network for Intellution's headquarters and its sales offices in Europe and Asia, and told his sales representative to order a frame relay circuit for the Foxborough building for August.

Buckley says his sales representative waited until the beginning of the summer to place the order with the local frame relay provider, Verizon, because there was so much lead time. While WorldCom manages the frame relay network, it must deal with local providers in locations where it has no last-mile connections itself.

In Massachusetts, the last-mile provider is Verizon.

Then, after the Verizon strike in the summer, Buckley called WorldCom again to delay the frame relay provisioning because Intellution had decided to push its move back 30 days as a result of the strike.

Buckley says he was given an installation date of Sept. 15. This was later set back to Oct. 12. Then on Oct. 7, when he hadn't heard from Verizon about arrangements for the installation, Buckley called WorldCom and was told he would not be able to get a frame relay line until July 2001.

Buckley feels the extended waiting period is unacceptable.

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