by Mike Burkett
roundup staff reporter
Customers of Goodnet, one of the Rim country's five Internet service providers, only know one thing for sure: Since Monday, they've been offline. They haven't been told why their connection to the World Wide Web has been pulled. They haven't been told for how long the disconnection will last. They have not received a notification of any sort.
"I tried to get online Monday and couldn't," said Payson's Guy Pittman, who until then used Goodnet as his home and business Internet service provider (ISP). "I called their technical support number, but after waiting for 90 minutes without anyone answering, I gave up."
Pittman's office is next door to the office at 107 W. Wade that's used by Goodnet to house its modems. He strolled over Monday and found, wedged in the office's front door, a notice from Arizona Public Service telling the occupants that their electrical service had been cut off until a delinquent $178.85 bill was paid.
That's as much information as the Roundup was able to gather after a full day of telephone calls and investigation into the fate of Goodnet.
Rumors, however, were in abundance. Various individuals said that they had heard Goodnet had been purchased by the national Internet service provider, Earthlink; that Earthlink was going to take over the company's local business; and that Earthlink was not going to take over the local business because Payson's population of Internet users is too small. A call to Carla Shaw of Earthlink's press relations department, however, promptly debunked all three of those stories.
"We have not purchased Goodnet, and we have never had any plans to enter the Payson market," Shaw said.
A call to Goodnet's tech support line earned the same result as Pittman's experience not to mention the experience shared by most people who try to contact an ISP tech-support line for any reason: no answer.
Goodnet's Web site, like those of most of those posted by ISPs, contained no business-office numbers.
But whoever it is that's been operating Goodnet locally is not only elusive but, based on their paper trail, non-existent.
According to Tessie Florez, deputy town clerk for the Town of Payson, there are no local business-operating licenses under the names of Goodnet or Winstar Broadband Services, the national Ohio-based company which owns Goodnet and which, according to its own Web site, is in the process of recovering from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and in the process of selling off its ISP holdings.
When Winstar public relations specialist Laura Klein was contacted for more information, however, she said she was unaware that Winstar owned Goodnet.
The Roundup then contacted Debbie Lowery, who, with her husband Bob, is the landlord of the building in which Goodnet has been operating.
"We just bought the building not too long ago," Lowery said, "and this is a little embarrassing to admit we have never had contact with the tenant. We were told by the previous owner that they were in the Valley, but we've never been give any verification of that. We have been attempting to contact them for months now, but have never received a response."
Goodnet's departure leaves four ISPs to take up the area's slack: Cybertrails (1-800-go-cyber, or www.cybertrails.com), The River (1-877-887-4837, or www.theriver.com), FutureOne (472-9001) and Dancris (www. dancris.com).