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Study: ISP performance improves

Reliability and Web performance among Internet providers have stabilized after improvements to network infrastructures, a new study shows.

Dial-up reliability and Web performance among Internet service providers have stabilized this year after improvements to network infrastructures, a new study shows.

IBM and Erol's topped a list of 23 Internet service providers as the most reliable ISPs in the first three months of 1998, the report by Inverse Network Technology showed. The study measured reliability as the likelihood of a connection on the first call.

IBM, which has ranked high among ISPs offering reliable first connections in other industry studies, also was in the running for being the best Internet performer after logging on. IBM was rated closely behind leaders Pacific Bell, and Sprint Internet Passport in download time and reliability, the study showed.

"Based on need for business- or consumer-oriented service, users seeking to select the best ISP may have to decide whether reliable Internet access or fast browsing time is more important," said Inverse Network Technology president Michael Watters in a statement.

Although most call failure rates among most ISPs declined during both work hours and evening hours, America Online showed a slight failure rate increase to 19.2 percent in March from 16.3 percent in January and 16.1 in February.

Still, that pales in comparison to the 80.2 percent failure rate AOL showed January 1997 after the online service was overburdened with demand for its flat-rate pricing plan. AOL has said it spent $700 million during the past year to build up its network and has added 1,000 customer service representatives.

In recent months, AOL's evening call failures have sharply declined. But the online heavyweight continues to hover above the industry failure average because of heavy usage.

The study also showed that the average percentage of email delivered within five minutes has declined, reflecting a number of outages suffered during the three-month period surveyed.