Originally created 09/12/98

Internet troubles hampering access to Starr report



Julie Jones clicked onto the Internet at 2:30 p.m., saw that Kenneth Starr's report was online and clicked away.

Nothing happened.

"It's just jammed," said Pat Brucker, information specialist in the Augusta Technical Institute library. "I was thinking the whole thing would blow up."

Congress posted Kenneth Starr's report Friday afternoon. Ms. Brucker repeatedly went to Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet at thomas.loc.gov and it said it was there. But click, and it said, Sorry, try later.

Mark Stone, vice president of Augusta Net Internet Access tried five different mirror sites the government posted and still couldn't reach it. Too many people were trying, which slowed down the process, he said.

"They was getting like 300,000 hits a minute," said Andrea McMillan, an Augusta nurse who also tried to read the report Friday afternoon but couldn't get it to come up.

Another reason the Internet moved slowly was that a train derailment in Rutledge, Ga., near Atlanta sliced into a large WorldCom long-distance fiber optic line. The train was traveling from Atlanta to Augusta.

Internet service providers and their customers across the Southeast were cut off from the Web for most of the day.

Although it was not BellSouth's line, local office manager Merle Temple said he received calls as far away as Miami.

"No day is a good day for this to happen, but from an Internet perspective, it was a particularly bad day to happen," Mr. Temple said.

The accident, coupled with the curious Americans rushing to read the dirt, and you've got gridlock on the information superhighway.

"If you went to CNN.com at 3:30, it didn't load, there were some broken links," said Mike McLeod, new media director for @ugusta, The Augusta Chronicle Online, at www.augustachronicle.com.

If you want to get the report faster (with fewer people competing against you to see it) the report was posted at 3:45 p.m. on the @ugusta web page.

Click on it and it comes right up, Mr. McLeod said. You can find it in a number of other non-news sites, such as yahoo.com and lycos.com.

In the first few hours the report was posted to @ugusta, it was accessed more than 1,000 times, Mr. McLeod said, easily making it one of the most popular sections of Web site.

An online poll about the report gathered more than 300 responses, and prompted 45 visitors to e-mail in their views on the report.