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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Software Glitch Stings Beeline Subscribers

Vimpelcom's reputation for low-quality service was compounded last week when the oversubscribed company's Beeline network suffered two major crashes.

Vimpelcom's No. 3 switchboard, which services a third of the capital's Beeline subscribers and 20 percent of the Moscow region's, suffered a systems failure on its Alcatel-equipped center Thursday evening.

Subscribers in some parts of the city could not be reached from either mobile or landline telephones, while calls from mobiles could only reach landline phones.

Specialists from Alcatel and Vimpelcom loaded updated software into the system and got it fully operational by midnight, only to see it crash again at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

According to Vimpelcom's network development vice president, Sergei Avdeyev, the network was fully operational by 7.30 p.m.

"We have a serious night ahead of us, we have to modernize the software. A team of Alcatel specialists is working at the switchboard," Avdeyev said. Asked if the situation could repeat itself, he said Friday night's work would tell.

Alcatel's Moscow office confirmed there had been a software problem. "The reason for the problems has been found and the operation of the equipment is under control," said Alcatel Russia marketing manager Tina Butkhuzi.

"The technicians weren't expecting this kind of overload. Apparently they didn't believe marketers' optimistic subscriber growth forecasts," said Alexander Manin, commercial director of the Telecom Ekspert company. "Analysis of similar events with foreign operators has shown that the problem won't be solved instantly, it may take a few days."

The risk of such crashes is especially high when the number of subscribers approaches a network's maximum capacity.

Currently, Vimpelcom has just over 2.2 million GSM subscribers in the Moscow area and is nearing its 2.4 million limit.

In addition, the subscriber load is not always evenly dispersed, and if there is less than 30 percent free volume, a small problem can turn into a huge systems failure, as evidenced by last week's trouble.

"We are not happy with the quality [of service] we provide. We need to hasten the growth of our network volume immediately," said Avdeyev.