Verizon Fails to Increase Speed

Verizon, the Internet provider for St. Mary’s and the entire University of Maryland system, failed to double the speed of the college’s Internet despite hardware upgrades that could deliver Internet speeds nearly 20 times faster than current speeds.

Last February, St. Mary’s Technological Services requested that the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS), the organization that provides Internet to all Maryland public schools, increase the school’s current 45 MB/s (megabytes/second) Internet connection to 100 MB/s.

UMATS Chief Network Technology Officer, Norwin Malmberg, put in the request to Verizon.

After several missed deadlines Verizon installed the correct equipment on both ends last October. However, according to Malmberg, “we plugged everything in and it didn’t work.” Malmberg was told by Verizon that there was no connection between Hyattsville, UMATS’ central location, and Lexington Park.

Verizon then put in a work order to install a Transport Land Service (TLS) to support a 100 MB/s connection between Hyattsville and Lexington Park, which should have been installed with the other equipment.

According to Malmberg, the TLS could not be completed before the beginning of the Spring 2011 semester. Verizon would also install a temporary Ethernet Private Line (EPL) while the TLS was being installed.

“[The] EPL line is more expensive, more than twice the price,” said Malmberg. “But we have to live with it,” he added, while Verizon installs the TLS line.

In e-mails given to The Point News on the condition of anonymity, UMATS and SMCM were told on Jan. 6 that “all of the pre-work has been completed. However, [Verizon is] working through some contractual issue.”

Weeks later, on Jan. 25, a Verizon representative said in an e-mail, “I uncovered that the engineering work order that we completed back in December was for OC48 and not EPL.”

The OC48 line provides 2100 MB/s of capacity between Hyattsville and Lexington Park. According to Malmberg, Verizon is unlikely to use the increased capacity for St. Mary’s. “They will take the capacity and chop it up for other uses,” he said.

St. Mary’s Director of Campus Technology Support Services, George Waggoner, said, “they could have a [Vice President] say, ‘give them the connection and we will eat the money’.”

“The problem is not technical,” said Malmberg. “[I have] no idea what the timeline is for the orginal service we ordered,” he said. Malmberg and Waggoner also do not know when the EPL line promised in early January will be installed.

“When they have missed the deadline multiple times, you stop believing they will do it,” said Malmberg.

“Verizon should not give a date if they can’t deliver,” Waggoner added.

The cost of the Internet speed remains uncertain. In a rate sheet given to UMATS and SMCM last October, Verizon quoted the cost of upgrading from 45 MB/s to 100 MB/s as $104,640 per year.

However, in December the cost was quoted as $117,480 after UMATS requested that Verizon revise a three year contract they sent UMATS using terms and pricing from Verizon’s contract with the Federal Government.

In e-mails concerning the contract and quote, one official said, “Verizon folks tell me that they don’t have the necessary codes populated into their internal systems to allow them to order this using the state contact pricing and terms.”

Regardless of the price difference, Waggoner believes he can upgrade the speed not only to 100 MB/s but to 1,000 MB/s using $100,000 set aside to provide wireless service to residence halls.

“The SGA overwhelming said they would prefer faster Internet over wireless [service],” he said, “so it turns out once we get the line in, I have $100,000 to upgrade the speed.”

The additional $100,000 would more than cover 1,000 MB/s service quoted at $177,554 last October. Waggoner is unsure, however, if that rate sheet is still accurate.

Verizon officials did not respond before The Point News’ publication deadline.

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