A headsup re Verizon Wireless paging

Michael R. Wayne wayne at staff.msen.com
Mon Dec 22 18:08:18 UTC 2003

  If you use Verizon Wireless pagers (pagers with an @myairmail.com
  email address) to monitor your network, your alerts may be blocked
  without notice.

The saga:

We use multiple paging companies for our pagers, under the theory
that redundancy is a "good thing".  Last week, our people who carry
pagers from Verizon Wireless realized that they were not getting
pages from our Netsaint monitoring system, although they were
getting other pages and people carrying pagers from other paging
companies were getting Netsaint pages.

After a bit of testing, we discovered that email to pagers from
   [email protected]<our monitoring system>
was not getting through but email to pagers from any other username
on that machine seemed to go through fine.

So one of my people contacted their tech support Friday morning.
After 7.5 hours of being told:
   1) The problem is that you are not running a web server on that
      machine. (Actually we are but it's firewalled and why should
      they care?)
   2) The problem is that DNS is broken for that address.  (It's not,
      plus why do pages for other users go through?)
   3) The problem is that our server is not actually sending the
      messages to Verizon wireless (we sent them the sendmail logs
      to prove that the messages were accepted).
   4) The problem must be something else at our end.
   5) The problem is that you are using email to deliver the page,
      can't you use a modem?
   6) Assorted other excuses which we neglected to note.
someone FINALLY admitted that pages from the netsaint address were
being filtered.

The guy who eventually admitted this basically told the gal who
had been working on this all day:
   "We did this to protect our network, no, you cannot speak to
   anyone else about it, we may just leave it in forever and we're
   not going to do anything about it."
And hung up on her.  He must have been pretty rude (which I why I
omit his name) because after dealing with this all day she was
frustrated to the point that she was in tears.

So, I sent her home and picked up the fight. I eventually, reached
the same person who admitted that they were filtering email from that 
address because of a problem with one customer earlier in the month
so they discarded messages to ALL customers if the address contained 
netsaint.  His stand:
- Verizon Wireless did this to protect their network.
- They occasionally install such filters for an indeterminate amount
  of time.
- No notice is given to customers of such a filter.  When I asked
  about it he seemed to feel that there was no way to inform
  customers.  I figure it would take about an hour to develop a
  script with a simple database of pager destinations that paged
  once to inform customers that a word was suppressed.
- No notice is given to their tech support people that such a filter
  has been put in place.
- No notice is given to their resellers, so if a customer calls to 
  inquire, the reseller has no clue that it's going on.
- There is no clear process for a customer to determine that such a
  filter has been installed.
- He had to obtain permission from "the field" as to whether or not
  the block could be removed.
- He pretty much ignored my question as to why they blocked all
  customers rather than just the one in question.
But he promised to contact me before leaving for the day.

I started hacking a filter to simply substitute another address
for netsaint and, in the process, discovered that what was actually
going on was that any page that contains the word netsaint anywhere
in the header or in the message was being discared without notice.

I did get a call back as promised.  I mentioned that they were not
filtering on address but the entire messaged and got an:
  "Oh, I knew that" (would have been nice of him to TELL me).
He claimed that the block would be removed either later Friday
night, Saturday morning at the latest.  Pages were still being
blocked Friday night and Saturday morning but a test page sent this
morning worked OK.

/\/\ \/\/

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