Truckstop.net customers lose Wi-Fi service in dispute with Sprint

| Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Wi-Fi service at more than 500 truck stops across the United States served by Truckstop.net has been halted, the company announced Nov. 30.

The locations include all the Petro locations that carried the service.

The outage began when Truckstop.net sued Overland Park, KS-based Sprint, which installed and configured the service’s equipment. A statement from Truckstop.net said the company filed suit Nov. 15 in U.S. District Court in Idaho, claiming that its customers were suffering service outages caused by Sprint equipment. The problems reportedly affected “thousands” of customers who used the wireless Internet-access service.

Debra Peterson, communications manager at Sprint’s Overland Park, KS, headquarters, said that when the suit was filed Nov. 15, the judge required Truckstop.net to post a $67,500 bond and ordered Sprint to continue the service.

During a second hearing Nov. 19, the judge increased the size of the bond. Truckstop.net did not post the amount by Nov. 22 as required, effectively ending the injunction, so Sprint cut off service Nov. 23, she said.

According to the news release from Truckstop.net, the Internet service provider had worked with Sprint for five months to find the source of the problem, but that the telecommunications company had not corrected them.

However, Peterson said her company conducted tests but was not able to replicate the problems described by Truckstop.net officials.

“We believe the services performed to the contractual agreement,” Peterson said.

“I just believe that we’ve met the requirements of our agreement with Truckstop.net to provide equipment and services, and we should be paid for what is due to us. I think that’s our bottom line.”

Some truck stops have kept the Wi-Fi service active by hooking up the equipment to another Internet circuit. A TruckStop.net official said his company would offer that alternative service at no charge while the company works to fix the original problem.

“We regret the inconvenience this causes to our customers and problems for our partner locations,” Allan Meiusi, COO of Truckstop.net, said in a statement. “Many of our customers have been very understanding throughout this last week offering pictures of sites with installation issues and reporting outages at sites, and we thank them for being our eyes in the field.”

Peterson said that she did not know whether her company would offer individual truckers an alternative form of wireless access. Two trucking companies that were affected have contacted Sprint, and will be provided service at their facilities T1 lines. The company also offers its PCS Connection Card wireless access service, which Peterson said is faster than some dialup services.

Truckstop.net is providing a list of the hot spots that are still operating on its Web site, www.truckstop.net. Most of the locations are outlets of Love’s, Pilot or Rip Griffin. Truckstop.net also has a section of the site that describes how to receive a refund for service.

Other companies that offer Truckstop.net Wi-Fi service include AmBest, Sapp Brothers, PTP Stop and the Iowa 80 group.

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
mark_reddig@landlinemag.com

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