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ISP call failures becoming less common

People trying to get online are having a progressively easier time doing so, a new study has found.

People trying to get online are having a progressively easier time doing so, a new study has found.

Released today by measurement company Inverse Network Technologies, the study revealed that people dialing into their Internet service providers were more likely to get through than in previous years.

The Inverse study examined 1998 through October, and found that, while call rates varied from month to month, they improved overall for major Internet access providers.

"Average call failure rates for major Internet service providers during any given month in 1998 have been significantly better--at least 33 percent and in some cases nearly 60 percent--than the corresponding rates for 1997," according to Inverse.

Once plagued by high call failure rates, ISPs steadily have bolstered their services so that now, most people dialing into the Net can access their ISPs on the first try.

The issue of call failure rates gained prominence two years ago, when online leader America Online faced an uproar after it started offering unlimited access for a single rate. The shift brought customers to its service in droves, but the company was not prepared for the onslaught.

Since then, Internet service providers have emphasized service above all. AOL, for its part, dramatically built out its technology, adding thousands of modems.

"While there are still wide variations among individual ISPs, as a group they seem to have taken user access problems seriously and made significant infrastructure investments to address them," Inverse CEO Mike Watters said in a statement.

The greatest improvements were seen in the 6 p.m. to midnight time frame.

Top performers in October were: AT&T WorldNet; Cable & Wireless;; and Bell