Southwestern Bell South Tulsa Customers See Slower Computer Connection

Tuesday, November 16th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Traveling along the information superhighway is slow going these days for hundreds, maybe thousands of Southwestern Bell customers in South Tulsa. The company tells the News on Six that it’s a problem that has no solution.

The leaves aren't the only things falling in Chimney Hills Estates these days. Michelle Simmons' modem speed is on the slide, too. "I'm connected at 26.4, 40% of what I'm used to," she said. The change happened suddenly a few weeks back. And it didn't take long for the stock day trader to notice. “Two seconds and you would see that the trade was executed,” said Simmons. “Right now, you wait a minute and in day trading, you cannot wait a minute."

It took Cage several weeks and numerous phone calls before the phone company fessed up to what happened. To keep up with rising demand for phone service in growing areas such as south Tulsa, Southwestern Bell quietly started installing new equipment allowing several phone lines to use the same copper wire.

In written statement, Southwestern Bell said the new system, called pair-gains, "offer modem speeds that are less than landlines connected directly to a central office."
The company "cannot guarantee data speeds" over their voice communication network.
Southwestern Bell won't say how many customers or neighborhoods might be affected or for how long, just that until it builds up its data network and removes the pair gains, the slowdown will stay.

Simmons says it took her quite a few phone calls to get that simple explanation. She still doesn't have a solution from the company. "They didn't ever tell me it was their problem," she explained.

A Southwestern Bell spokeswoman says it's simply not feasible to notify all of the customers who might be affected. And until the company builds up its data network and removes the pair gains, the slow down will remain. "If I could get any kind of feed from somebody other than using a Southwestern Bell line, I would do it,” said Simmons. “There is no other choice."

Now there’s a day trader in town who's thinking of trading her address and moving to a part of Tulsa where all lanes of the information superhighway are open and clear. Simmons also e-mailed the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Her neighborhood association plans to ask the commission for help and to look deeper into the problem. Simmons says her slow connection has cost her at least $600 in trades just for Tuesday morning.