What’s happening @isn.net?

Read this important update to this post.

You may recall that when Kevin O’Brien and I talked about the sale of ISN to Eastlink back in January, Kevin suggested that ISN customers with “@isn.net” email addresses would be able to take them forward to Eastlink. I’ve talked with Kevin since, and he’s confirmed that this was his understanding at the time, based on conversations he’d had with Eastlink about this specific issue.

Over the years that ISN was an independent ISP, Kevin often needed to convince prospective customers that they weren’t taking a risk by moving to ISN, and one of the ways he did this was by reassuring them that, even if they left ISN, the company would forward their email for them. ISN didn’t have to do this — indeed locking customers into an email address is one of the tricks that many ISPs use to ensure they retain their customers. But Kevin’s sense of fairness trumped any business need to ensnare customers, and so the policy stood (I think if Kevin were writing this he might say something about “not wanting to have customers that didn’t want to be customers.”)

The sale to Eastlink went through, and the transition is now rolling out. And this week ISN customers got an email telling them, contrary to what they may have understood, their “@isn.net” email address is going to be deactivated and replaced with an “@eastlink.ca” address. As I understand it, the deadline for this is April 15, 2008.

There’s nothing on the new Eastlink-branded ISN home page about this.

This morning at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market I had conversations with two vendors, both longtime customers of ISN, who were up in arms about what to do about being forced to change their longstanding email addresses; one of them was in a situation where his ISN email address is one of the cornerstones of his business, and is printed on brochures and business cards and has been widely distributed for a long, long time.

While it may be unreasonable to expect Eastlink to keep the ISN domain alive forever, expecting customers, many of whom have had an “@isn.net” email address for more than 10 years, to change their address with 30 days notice is simply bad customer service. There’s no technical reason they need to do this: while it would make their transition more difficult technically, keeping the isn.net domain alive to receive and forward email is an essentially simple technical exercise, and something that Eastlink should, if only as a matter of common courtesy and a gesture of goodwill to the ISN customers they’re adopting, proceed with.

If you’re a former customer of ISN, and it’s going to cause you problems to give up your email address with such short notice, here’s what I recommend you do:

  1. Call Eastlink’s office in Charlottetown (367-2800) or Summerside (724-2800) and ask to speak to a Manager, and let them know that you think it’s unreasonable for them to ask you to change your email address with 30 days notice.
  2. Send an email to Eastlink expressing your displeasure: Mike Corkum is their “Director of Consumer Sales.”

In either case, you can let Eastlink know that, if you’re going to have to change your email address anyway, you might as well consider changing your Internet provide to Aliant while you’re at it.

You may also want to start the process of getting your own domain name for your email just to ensure you don’t get stung this way again. I’ve had a few questions about the specifics of this process, and I’m considering offering a brief lunchtime seminar next week for those interested in seeing the process walked through and getting any questions answered face to face; let me know if you’d be interested in this.

I have every confidence that, if they hear loud and clear from ISN customers, Eastlink will come to their senses and realize this is bad customer service and not a way to treat the devoted customers they’re inheriting.


DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on March 15, 2008 - 20:29 Permalink

OH NO! I have been an ISN customer for more than a decade, and received a personal message from Kevin saying that my address would not be changing. I have NOT received any messages from Eastlink (or anyone else) saying that my email address IS going away. I hope they contact us soon, and provide some type of transition support/forwarding, as I have MANY subscriptions, domain name registrations, PayPal accounts, banks accounts, etc. etc. to change. My last address change, from PEINet to ISN caused me months of grief, and the Internet has changed greatly since then, as I many things attached to my email address that did not exist way back then.

jypsy's picture
jypsy on March 15, 2008 - 20:56 Permalink

I also did not get any notice. Ironically, April 14th marks the day I signed on with isn, some 13? 14? years ago. What happens to webpages at www.isn.net….. ? I don’t even want to think about all the subscriptions, accounts, registrations etc I need to change.

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on March 16, 2008 - 00:53 Permalink

I sent off a Contact Form to Eastlink. I will let you know if I get anything back from them. Of prime concern for me is whether or not I will have to move the websites I have hosted there to a new url, or whether I have to take an even more extreme step and move to a new host. Let’s hope Eastlink don’t fill their web hosting accounts with bandwidth restrictions and silly rules like Island Tel/Aliant had (need to have every script approved before installing, etc.)

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 16, 2008 - 17:48 Permalink


It seems not everyone got the notice that their email would have to change. For example, my addresses (ko@, kob@, kobrien@, and kevin@) are all going to be removed as well — I received no email notice except those forwarded by former customers. Loosing those email addresses will be very very inconvenient and I stand, like many others, to loose thousands of dollars besides.

This, btw, was the *ONE* and only issue I brought up when negotiating the purchase which wasn’t directly related to financial technical details of the sale. The reassurances I was given were so convincing that I didn’t ask them to be embedded in the agreement itself.

Eastlink is a good company and has treated me very well over the years which I why this came as such a surprise to me. The negative fallout was predictable which adds to the surprise.

Jonathan's picture
Jonathan on March 16, 2008 - 20:07 Permalink

What’s the big deal?
Life changes, people change, names, passwords, and other stuff changes.
If we did not want this to happen, Kevin O’Brien should not have sold his company to Aliant.
He did.
Those people who have to change their business cards should blame O’Brien for selling his company. Not Aliant, for making a reasonable business decision.
Unless, of course, there is some sort of contract signed between the two that said this would not happen. Which, I’m guessing, there isn’t.
Life goes on.
Shit happens.
The people at the Farmer’s Market will get over it, I imagine.
There’s a lot worse stuff happening out there.
How about that jump in home heating oil by 9.8 cents per litre?

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 16, 2008 - 21:20 Permalink

Johnathan, if you knew something of what actually took place you couldn’t write such a letter. Call me some time and I’ll be happy to explain — 626-5995. And yes, there’s plenty worse going on in the world — which includes, in part, potentially hurtful, and intentionally incindary, statements made in public by people who possess no knowledge of what they are talking about, to say nothing of malicious indifference and… what are the other six deadly sins?

jypsy's picture
jypsy on March 17, 2008 - 00:11 Permalink

Could you forward me one of those notices that were forwarded to you?

Jonathan's picture
Jonathan on March 17, 2008 - 00:12 Permalink

Ah ,Kevin, I didn’t write a letter.

I wrote an “opinion” which constitued my “thoughts” on a public internet website. They are not “intentionally incindary”, nor libellous, nor are they even fainlty inflammatory.
If they are hurtful, let me say now, I am sorry I hurt your feelings, which apparently are very sensitive.

I don’t want to call you. Why the heck should I?

It’s clear to me: You sold ISN to Aliant. You didn’t put a clause in the agreement of sale that said Aliant had to honor isn domain names.

What’s to discuss?

You believed something that was said to you, but was not in writing?

If that is the case, welcome to the Real World.

Nathan's picture
Nathan on March 17, 2008 - 02:33 Permalink

Jonathan, your opinions would be slightly more meaningful if you actually knew the company that ISN was sold to (hint: it’s not Aliant).

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 17, 2008 - 11:41 Permalink

It matters only that I give it,

No concern if it’s true

My opinions are my life

As soon as I give them too you

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on March 17, 2008 - 14:10 Permalink

Here’s what I got back from Eastlink. Looks like our email addresses are going away on April 15! (nice of them not to tell us!) Apparently the Contact address can’t forward messages to billing, so I don’t know what is happening there!

- Derek

Hello Derek,

We do not have control of the ISN email addresses that are on a
different server. The addresses will need to be changed to eastlink addresses by April 15th when ISN shuts down their email server. As for the billing this is only a tech support email and you may want to contact our customer service for any information on billing.

If you require any further assistance, feel free to contact one of our
Technical Service Representatives at the number below.

Thank You,
Eastlink Technical Support

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 17, 2008 - 14:45 Permalink

If this, “…when ISN shuts down their email server…” is actually the words used, and if they represent an official position, then someone is playing games. There is no ISN other than themselves.

But, trying to get staff and contract staff to accurately represent what you’re doing can be impossible (depending on the degree of accuracy requried). This (erroneous) comment could easily fall into that category. Anyway, I’m off to Hfx somtime this week and will see if there is a way out of all this for everyone. The people I’ve dealt with (in Hfx) are ultimately reasonable and I hope that includes some flexibility.

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on March 17, 2008 - 18:12 Permalink

Just got the following IMPORTANT email. It’s very clear that our emails will stop working less than a month from now.
I don’t even want to think of the dire consequences they are planning for our webspace.

IMPORTANT email address conversion

On January 31, 2008, EastLink became your Internet service provider as a
result of our purchase of Island Services Network (ISN). EastLink has
been proudly serving Maritimers for more than 35 years. During this
time, we have grown to become the largest privately held communications
and entertainment company in Canada and have more than 800 employees
located in offices throughout Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

EastLink will be converting all customer email addresses from the
existing ISN email address to new EastLink addresses throughout March
and early April. This change is necessary to provide the full range of
features and benefits provided with EastLink’s email service including
expanded virus protection and spam filtering.

Please call us at 1-888-345-1111 to select your new EastLink email
address. It is imperative that this occur before April 15th, 2008, the
date which ISN email addresses will no longer operate. If you have
already changed your email address, please disregard this message.

Our Technical Support Representatives will be happy to assist you in
setting up your new EastLink email address and updating your email
client. Throughout this time, you will continue to receive email at your
current ISN address, however, please note as of April 15th, 2008 emails
sent to your old ISN email address will be returned to sender as
undeliverable. We understand that changing your email address is
inconvenient, however it is a necessary step in providing you with the
reliability and performance that has made EastLink’s Internet service
one of the best in North America.

Please note that customers who utilize personal webspace will also need
to transfer it to EastLink by April 15th, 2008. This can be arranged on
the same call.

Note: If you are an EastLink Business client, and currently use an ISN
email account, please call 1-877-813-1727 to select your new EastLink
address. If you have a business vanity email (i.e.
johnsmith@abccompany.com) no changes are required.

Thank you for your understanding during the transition to EastLink. We
look forward to providing you with the excellent service for which
EastLink is known.


Dan McKeen
co-CEO Lee Bragg

Riki's picture
Riki on March 18, 2008 - 00:56 Permalink

I know I’m not looking forward to any of this.. if I wanted and Eastlink address, I would have signed up for Eastlink 5 or 6 years ago.. something else I’m worried about, and I intend on calling CS tomorrow when I’m not working.. (I work for the company that does Eastlink tech support, I doubt they know much on this) and ask them about it… my webspace.. it’s personal webspace.. nothing special or fancy.. but the letter I received telling me my new account details said that I was only allotted 5mb of space, and I’m pretty sure that I use more than that..
Kevin, thanks for going to bat for us.. you’ve always been a pretty cool guy.. I’ve talked to you a couple of times when I was having modem troubles.. and you actually set up my very first internet connection for me, back in 1997..

Cody Swanson's picture
Cody Swanson on March 18, 2008 - 04:03 Permalink

Don’t be fooled for a second that Eastlink’s reason for not migrating users e-mail is anything technical. Eastlink runs Sun’s Java System Messaging Server which is completely capable of hosting the e-mail for many different domains. With minimal effort they could continue to host the mail for all ISN’s existing customer base using the old ISN.net domain. It would cost them an extra $20/year for the domain registration.

I have a feeling that the reason for the migration is about corporate brand or some kind of internal policy decision. Welcome to corporate indifference.

Paul Power's picture
Paul Power on March 18, 2008 - 16:05 Permalink

I live in England at the present time and to open my E-Mail at 6:00 a.m. GMT this morning and read the letter from EastLink was not a good way to start my day. I have been with ISN (Kevin) for many years and always appreciated his tremendous service. My address ‘penguin’ has become quite famous in both continents and yet suddenly I am told that this must change. The telephone numbers given in the E-Mail from EastLink are not toll-free from England and when you do get through all you get iare numerous menus, none of which seem to apply to E-Mails. I do not want to change my address and any assistance any other ISN users can give me, will be greatly appreciated. PENGUIN

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on March 18, 2008 - 16:48 Permalink

Maybe the listed domain owners, Kevin and Charles, could repossess their domain, and transfer it to someone who would setup a mail server. Since whois shows they are still the owners of the domain, and since Eastlink clearly has no interest in it, perhaps they should transfer it to someone who does!

Now that this website has saved Compass (but not the BOM clock), perhaps it is time for a “Save @isn.net” campaign!

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on March 18, 2008 - 18:08 Permalink

I have received an email saying that Eastlink has now delayed the closing down of our email addresses until the end of the year. This will be good news for tourism operators in particular, and will give all of us more time to switch over to a new email address.

There is still the issue of our web space — we all have to look at whether Eastlink will offer a comparable product at a comparable price to what we have now, or whether we should transfer our sites to a new host. There are many small businesses, special interest groups and non-profits hosted at ISN, many who paid little (or even nothing) for the service. It is doubtful that Eastlink’s pricing will be quite so lenient.

Jane Dunphy's picture
Jane Dunphy on March 18, 2008 - 18:14 Permalink

Well, Eastlink has ‘done the right thing’ Especially by PEI tourism operators with @isn.net addresses. I spent all morning on the phone — first half calling Eastlink and leaving a _very_ heated message, (thanks, Peter, for the phone number that worked!) then calling various folk in PEI Tourism (right up to Valerie Docherty’s office. The second half of the morning was spent receiving apologetic calls from various Eastlink officials and managers, telling me they were extending the validity of the @isn address. Very good news! Peter, I’m also taking your advice and changing my email address to link it to my B&B web address. Then ‘it’ can never happen to me again!

I may well stay with Eastlink until we get wireless highspeed here in Annandale…

Jane Dunphy,

PS: I’ve got no idea where my original post from last night got to — I can’t find it now.

Alex's picture
Alex on May 1, 2008 - 01:38 Permalink

I am a formar employee of EastLink, and am very keen as to the way the network works. There is no reason for this transisiton other then to brand you as EastLink customers and advertise from you.

I recently left the company due to the poor wages, and the inability to advance in the company if you are not in “The Good Ole Boys” club.

To give you an example of how this company treats employees, while in their employ they asked for people to help compile a team to assist Habitat For Humanity with 4 new homes being built in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. As an incentive, they offered 4 hours of paid time off from the company for doing it. I signed up, worked 16 hours (2 days) and took my 4 hours personal time. Keep in mind the additional 12 hours worked were on my own time, with no pay.

When I just received my pay stub tonight for my last pay from the company, they took back the 4 hours saying I never earned them as I have not accured the personal time this year.

Its $46 but its the principal. I highly suggest you change providers as you are in for more headaches if you stay. Go with Aliant if you can and even drop cable products from eastlink if you have them and get satellite.