Tech Industry

Customers cry foul after Sprint sells Web business

Sprint announces that it has sold its DellHost Web-hosting business, prompting some of its now-former customers to complain that they weren't notified as soon as they should've been.

Sprint announced Monday that it has sold its DellHost Web-hosting business, prompting some of its now-former customers to complain that they weren't notified as soon as they should've been.

Sprint, which purchased the business from computer maker Dell back in fall 2001, sold it to VeriCenter, according to a memo sent to DellHost customers Monday.

"As part of a recent refocusing of its business, Sprint has committed to exit the datacenter hosting business. As a result, Sprint will no longer continue to offer or operate the DellHost portfolio of services," the memo said.

The switch left some customers feeling a bit miffed, with several complaining they were only notified of the change Monday, even though the transaction was completed Saturday.

A representative for Sprint said that when a deal is under discussion, customers cannot be notified until it has been concluded.

Web hosting provides a way for small and medium-size businesses to create a Web presence without having to monitor its operation. Web page storage and ever-changing bandwidth demands are handled by an outside company, such as DellHost.

The Sprint memo read: "Sprint has been successful in finding a provider committed to delivering high-quality managed hosting services. Effective (Dec. 20), your hosting services will be provided by VeriCenter. You can expect separate communications from VeriCenter in the coming days with more details on their services."

Jared Davis, owner of DellHost customer Davis Programming, said he sent an e-mail to DellHost's customer support department in June and was assured he would not be affected by any plans on the part of Sprint to exit the Web hosting business.

"DellHost is not affected by this. It was a different part of Sprint," read an e-mail Davis forwarded to CNET News.com, saying he received it from Sprint's customer support department.

Davis, who signed up for DellHost in March, said he used the service to run an order services programming test.

"I was using DellHost as a test site, but if I was using it to run my bread and butter, I would be more concerned with the shift," Davis said.

Sprint has maintained a constant stream of communication with its DellHost customers, said a Sprint representative, adding that Sprint couldn't comment on what impressions customers may have had of those communications.

When it acquired the business, Sprint entered into a seven-year licensing agreement to use the DellHost name. A spokesman for Dell said VeriCenter will not be using the DellHost name.

Dell initially launched its Web hosting business in early 2000. But the service failed to catch on and Dell sold to Sprint.

Sprint, like a number of other telecommunications companies this year, decided to exit the business. AT&T, however, announced in June a new set of service plans to capture potential defectors from the other carriers.

Sprint declined to discuss the terms of the deal. VeriCenter did not return phone calls seeking comment.

According to the memo, DellHost customers will maintain their existing DNS and IP configurations and no servers or network environments will be moved. Customers will also maintain the same terms and conditions in their contracts as they had with Sprint.