AT&T’s dial-up Internet access net stumbles

If you had trouble dialing into AT&T Corp.’s Internet network Tuesday you were not alone.

In fact, hundreds of thousands of AT&T users were not able to get into the network from 9:30 a.m. to mid-afternoon on Tuesday because AT&T’s authentication servers failed.

While AT&T says it had the problem fixed by 1:30 p.m., users reportedly could not access the network until an hour later. AT&T’s Rich Gretch, offer manager for the service provider’s business Internet service, says problems spanned beyond 1:30 p.m. because so many users were trying to access the network once it was up and running.

AT&T would not go into any details about exactly why its authentication servers failed. Since the servers were able to send messages to users asking them to try back later, the problem was more likely a software failure than a hardware failure.

The outage affected AT&T’s entire U.S. network. Essentially, no users were able to access AT&T’s network via dial-up connections for more than four hours.

AT&T points out that if users were logged on before the outage, they were able to maintain their connection. But AT&T has a standard inactivity time-out that bumps users off if they do not send or receive data for 35 minutes.

AT&T is conducting a “root cause analysis” and expects to have additional information about the outage and how to prevent it in the future by the end of the week.

AT&T is at