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More problems for IBM email

Glitches that have occasionally shut down IBM Internet Connection email crop up again.

IBM's (IBM) Net access service is on the fritz again.

At 7 p.m. today, some users of the IBM Internet Connection service, a $19.95-a-month unlimited access service, were unable to receive email, according to a notice posted on the service's network status page. It was not clear when the problems would be repaired.

This is not the first time IBM's Internet service has experienced email problems. The service has been suffering from recurring glitches since October that have temporarily prevented users from accessing their mailboxes.

Yesterday, company spokeswoman Linda Wizner said email problems earlier this week were caused by the installation of software upgrades to IBM's email servers. Wizner was unable to say how many users were affected by the email outage, but she did say the problem was cleared up by yesterday afternoon.

However, IBM's network status page was reporting more problems today.

"We are currently experiencing problems with our mail system," the page said. "Some users (pop01.ny.us.ibm.net) will not be able to receive their mail at this time. Any mail sent to these users will be held until the problem is resolved and then placed in their mailboxes for retrieval. This page will be updated when the status changes. Thank you for your patience."

Usenet newsgroups devoted to IBM Internet Connection contained more than a dozen postings complaining about email problems with the service. Some said they have been experiencing problems with the email service for as long as three weeks.

"The Web network status page said this morning that no problems existed," wrote one subscriber in the ibmnet.general newsgroup. "Yet the POP1 [email server] problems haven't changed for me in the last three weeks. I have to log on again and again, and once out of every five to six [times] I can get my mail!"

"It's inexcusable that any ISP can't deliver basic email service," another subscriber wrote in an email to CNET. "But it's a downright disgrace when a big, supposedly solid company like IBM fails with basic service. IBM needs to realize that there are professionals like me who need and rely on email as part of our business."

More and more ISPs, including AT&T and America Online, are struggling with technical glitches brought on by a tremendous growth in customers. IBM's problems are particularly ironic since Big Blue is one of the earliest builders of the Internet. The company supplied some of the hardware and networking expertise for the construction of NSFNET, a predecessor to the Internet run by the National Science Foundation.

Previously, IBM has said that it has been working on its email servers since October in an effort to work out the kinks. The company does not disclose how many subscribers there are to the service. IBM has admitted that its Internet service experienced a surge in growth after it announced a $19.95 unlimited pricing scheme last July.