Details emerge in AOL-MSN outage

AOL Time Warner on Wednesday said full service had been temporarily restored for Road Runner and America Online subscribers locked out of Microsoft Web sites, as more details emerged about a glitch that inconvenienced millions of Web surfers for nearly two days. "In the interest of our mutual consumers, AOL has stepped forward and proactively restored network connectivity strictly on a short-term interim basis," AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said. "We will continue to work with Microsoft and other providers toward a long-term solution."

Connectivity issues between MSN and AOL surfaced Tuesday when some Road Runner users complained they could not access a number of Microsoft sites, such as Hotmail and MSN. A Road Runner representative said at that time the outage occurred when its technicians were updating routing tables and as Microsoft was doing routine maintenance. By Wednesday AOL confirmed that some of its members could not access MSN sites and that the problems were related.

Regardless of who is to blame, the problems between AOL and Microsoft were not entirely coincidental, according to sources familiar with the problem. A source close to Microsoft who asked to remain anonymous said the lockout stemmed from changes in a bandwidth "peering" agreement between America Online and Microsoft. Since the beginning of the Internet, service providers have piggybacked off each others' networks to deliver data more efficiently between end points. Companies, including AOL and Microsoft, have long established such peering relationships to efficiently route traffic.

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