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Dangers in the DSL World

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the cue-jaws-theme dept.

The Internet 210

shanec writes "As a former NorthPoint subscriber, eagerly awaiting the conversion to Rhythms, this article about the potential of Rhythms, and Covad going down also scares the #$^* out of me!" I think the article is a little inflamatory, but it does underscore a disturbing situation.

cancel ×

210 comments

be afraid. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#316351)

The best way to define .NET is to think about what .NET is going to do. Microsoft believes a silent shift to distributed computing is happening. Over the last couple of years, people have been laying fat pipes to the point where bandwidth is a lot less limited than it has been in the past. Combined with the Moore's Law effect where the processing power doubles every eighteen months and the prices are halved, you now have the option to do really distributed computing for the first time: because bandwidth is less expensive, you can do the processing wherever it is most optimal.

There are lots of examples of such distributed applications today. Napster is an application that uses a rich client talking to a directory service in the cloud, and uses all of the participating computers on the network as servers. Another example of a distributed application is instant messaging, where you have a rich client that talks to a buddy list in the cloud and communicates with other rich clients - Instant Messenger and Windows - in the network.

So .NET is aimed at accelerating this next generation of distributed computing.

(snipped from the Microsoft .Net homepage at http://www.microsoft.com/net/defining.asp [microsoft.com] )

Re:The free market will find the equilibrium. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#316352)

Here's another idea. If DSL providers actually policed their network, and culled all the script kiddies, nukers, DVD-downloaders, DDoSsers

... Napster users, Gnutella users, people running HTTP servers, people running SSH servers, people downloading pr0n...

Re:The reason DSL failed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#316353)

Ehh, close enough.

Re:Companies to busy to handle existing customers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#316354)

Needless to say, I ordered a T1 a few days ago. It might cost me 3x - 4x more per month, but I know my connection won't suck and it won't go down. I'll also be able to get more than a /29 with out begging and screaming!

Since when are T1's immune from going down? The place I used to work at had a T1 from Harvardnet that went down frequently (maybe once every other month which is frequently compared with my Speakeasy DSL line at home). In fact, the last time it went down Harvardnet refused to fix it and said that a new T1 line would need to be installed. They said it would only take a month for this to happen whereas it usually takes them 6 months, which was supposed to somehow make us feel better about our service being cut off after having been loyal customers for several years.

The reason DSL failed (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#316357)

Porn.

All succesful technologies make initial revenues from the sex industry. It happened with VHS, it happened with Pay internet, it happened with the printing press, even the telegraph. The need for sex has meant that people will spend a lot on this

But DSL is aimed at the typical consumer - the family man with 2.6 children. He isn't going to pay a lot for a service like that.

Until DSL is used primarily for this purpose it will make a loss. I guarentee

The Real Issues (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#316358)

The reason why DSL and Cable Companys are going out of business so quickly is the factthat they cant cope with the traffic costs of the users. I think the real issue here is the stranglehold on bandwidth price that the major telco's hold as well as the tight restrictions which governments place on communications startups by charging crazy prices for frequencies and skyspace for sattelites (note: the 3G bandwidth prices).

Some of the blame also falls onto users who like to sap the system for everything they can get. I myself cost my ISP about $600 a month in data while i only pay $40. They have to rely on users who only use the service for picking up email and doing a bit of browsing every so often.

Whether its good or bad, technology like P2P and Napster is quickly turning most home users into a bandwidth abusers. However I see this as the providers fault for not having stricter rules. Its fairly clear that we *need* more bandwidth, faster and cheaper access as we become more reliant on multi-media intensive applications.

This is all good if governments and major Telco's would play the game too.

Flames totally welcome, please reply with your economical analyses on this problem :)

Re:Why don't they charge enough money to support i (2)

Masem (1171) | more than 13 years ago | (#316360)

Surprisingly, it's not that they don't charge enough to cover costs (Which is what they actually charge the ISP to cover operating experience, leasing the copper from the baby bells, and making the small profit); it's that with all the smaller ISPs going out of business, disappear, or otherwise being deliquent in their payments that is hurting the DSL line people, rather than the actual consumers. Rhythms, which might run their own ISP business but are primarily into the line operations, rarely deal directly with the consumer save at install time; I, for example, cannot call up Rhythms for support if I know it's a line problem, I have to place the ticket through my ISP (it's part of the AUP).

While I worry, I'm not too concerned... (2)

Masem (1171) | more than 13 years ago | (#316361)

Unlike Northpoint, which served customers over a large number of different ISPs (which themselves had different DSL providers depending on region), a majority of Rhythms users are with Telocity, and a majority of Telocity's users are on Rhythms network. If Rhythms should have to sell out, I would suspect that Telocity would be there immediately to buy them out, possibly getting other ISPs invovled to help out.

Re:The Real Issues (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 13 years ago | (#316367)

Can you explain how you came up with $600 a month in costs for your ISP? That sounds a bit high. Could you break down these figures?

Consolidation (2)

yendor (4311) | more than 13 years ago | (#316371)

They call it consolidation if the smaller are gobbled up by the larger ones.
This doesn't seem to be one of those.

Just hope AOL doesn't buy them!

// yendor

--
It could be coffe.... or it could just be some warm brown liquid containing lots of caffeen.

A large part of the problem (3)

jht (5006) | more than 13 years ago | (#316375)

A large part of the problem is the structure that DSL is sold under. The DSL infrastructure CLECs all have to lease their unbundled copper from the ILEC, who is generally also in the DSL business as well and has a financial incentive to make the process as difficult as possible (eliminating the competition). Then the CLEC doesn't (except for Covad's Covad.net) even sell directly to the consumer - all they get to take is a middleman's bite without the retail markup. That retail markup, un turn, is very low because the ILEC is competing with a lower cost basis and driving the price down.

Business-grade DSL (SDSL with speeds of 768K and up) could theoretically be sold at higher margins than consumer-grade DSL, since business DSL is a market the ILEC's are avoiding (they don't want to cannibalize the lucrative T-1 business). This would give the DSL CLECs a chance to make some actual profit per line - but the catch is that they all built out their networks in the pre-2000 funding market and need a higher volume than just small business DSL can readily provide. So they all have been trying to land consumers for the cash flow (though the margins are nonexistent), only to lose money on every one (but they make it up in VOLUME!).

Covad may have a shot at survival just because they'll probably be the last national-scale DSL CLEC standing. A few smaller, regional-scale companies may be able to find niches as well, though it failed miserably for Vitts up here in New England. And through smart business (and/or deep pockets) some ISP's that offer DSL may be able to make a living - Telocity and Speakeasy have a pretty good chance (deep pockets for Telocity, and conservative growth plans at Speakeasy), as do companies like XO that have DSL as a single offering out of many.

There are companies that can make a profit with DSL, but they can't do it by going up against the ILEC. ILECs are on a completely different scale, with comparatively unlimited funds to write off while they crush you.

My own high-speed odyssey began with Flashcom/NorthPoint in mid 1999, and I stayed with them until it was obvious that Flashcom was on the way down (I had pretty good service and the price was decent). I switched to XO (for the deep pockets - Craig McCaw is their sugar daddy), and they provisioned a 768K SDSL line (for a little less than Flashcom was charging for 200K). It was also with NorthPoint, though - the Verizon merger fell through while the install was under way, ironically. I had no problems until NorthPoint went dark last Thursday evening, and XO announced they were getting out of the Home Office business.

So last Friday morning I called AT&T Broadband to see about cable - I live in Salem MA where cable Internet has only been available for about a month. They had a better price, free installation, and could come install this past Monday, which they did. So I simply moved my DNS to Zoneedit (which supports DDNS), and was back on the Net before my inbound mail from the weekend timed out and bounced. AT&T Roadrunner (my service) has no particular restriction on what I do with my line or if I run servers - the only restrictions are that I not run any commercial services with my servers and that I not do anything illegal. No problem. They also block the NetBIOS ports by default, though you can have them unblocked if you really want. And they don't "support" NAT routers, but they don't restrict their use. In fact, when I read the MAC address to the fellow registering my router, he asked me which model router I had and how I liked it (he recognized the vendor ID). He also set up a host mapping for me as well.

What this implies is that ultimately the more "progressive" cable ISP's (like RoadRunner) will get a lot of the business that would otherwise have gone to DSL providers when you have a choice as consumers become more informed (gradually) and home networking becomes more popular. Where there are no choices, you'll have to settle for an @Home-type ISP or whatever the market brings you, which is a pity. Your only other choice will be DSL from the ILEC unless you're a mid-sized business and therefore have SDSL for around $200 and up from a niche CLEC as an option.

Or dialup. Isn't that encouraging?

- -Josh Turiel

If this happens to me (1)

alsta (9424) | more than 13 years ago | (#316379)

I use Speakeasy today and I am very happy with what they have done for me so far. I am unliekly to switch unless something severe happens. But Speakeasy serves through Covad, so I am thinking that the possibility is there...

If things go south, I'll buy a T1. I am too used to good connectivity with SDSL and I refuse to use cable. I can get a decent T1 provisioning with an 8 IP subnet for $500.00/mo. I would most likely miss Speakeasy's excellent support. Such as how fast they are with making reverse DNS reflect my announcing DNS.

But there are alternatives and T1's aren't so expensive anymore that an average guy like myself can't have one.

Alex

$90/Month? (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 13 years ago | (#316382)

That's extremely expensive for a consumer level account. Also, at least in my area, you'll only get an RADSL line sharing connection from SpeakEasy for that price, which means slow upload speed and the connection drops out when my wife uses the speaker phone. Not a great deal IMHO.

Re:Northpoint, Covad, and other CLECs providing DS (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#316384)

And why in the world would an ILEC want to undercut their profitable T-1 etc. business by offering DSL? Never mind anti-competetive practices, the new FCC will be just fine looking the other way while "the market" shuts a huge number of us out of broadband (god knows I don't want to have to get a cable modem, the service here sucks from what my neighbors tell me).

Why DSL is important, and cable modems are not (5)

Outland Traveller (12138) | more than 13 years ago | (#316387)

As someone who was affected by the northpoint fiasco and recently re-signed with another DSL company despite the lower costs of cable solutions, I think I can shed some light on the subject.

DSL is a tremendously important technology because it brings you greater than T1 performance (both download AND upload) at a fraction of the cost of a T1. This scares the sh*t out of incumbant telecoms- They have ZERO reason to spend money buying DSL equipment only so that they can make less money on data services.

Local and national telecoms have, as far as I can see, done everything in their power to prevent DSL technology from taking hold. When independent startup (rhythms, northpoint, covad, etc) companies attempt to go around the stalling telecoms and provide the DSL service that customers demand, their job is made as difficult as possible due the local telco's control of CO's.

At the same time that the incumbant telcos are sabotaging independent efforts to offer DSL service, they are telling their current and potential T1 customers how unreliable and poor DSL solutions are (First hand experience here). It's a brazen display of market power that should give anyone pause. There's a reason why AT&T on one hand declined to smoothly transition Northpoint's business DSL clients, and on the other hand sent out letters to @work businesses offering to "upgrade" them to a T1. AT&T sends the message of their own making loud an clear- DSL is "unstable", buy our expensive T1's like everyone else. It's a total racket.

The only vision that incumbant telcos have for DSL is in a crippled ADSL form. Unsurprisingly, this is very similar to their vision for cable modems.

ADSL, and asymetric cable modems, *by design* turn a generic internet connection into a consumer-only connection. Don't let the marketing fool you- This isn't a feature. Your ability to publish information is strongly and arbitrarily curtailed.

Ever notice how you can pay more money for faster download speeds with cable modems, but your upstream stream is always the same? Haven't you ever wondered why *no* decent upstream bandwidth is advertised by cable companies? Most cable and ADSL providers even go further than this and explicitly forbid "servers" in their terms and conditions. Why is this? Certainly it's not a question of bandwidth, since they are handing bandwidth out left and right (so long as it's downstream).

This effort to "consumerify" as many internet services as possible has far reaching affects besides simply protecting the inflated revenues of T1 sales. It effectively takes away your press. The harder Time Warner makes it for people to self-publish on the internet, the less competition will exist for their own offerings.

I'm not saying that everyone would want to publish information on the internet, or that people who really want to publish on the internet won't be able to, but the "war on upstream bandwidth" does weigh the dice in the favour of media and telco interests.

People don't demand one-way bandwidth- A feature that would truly be in the customer's interest would be a protocol where you could dynamically configure upstream and downstream bandwidth from a fixed pool. I find it highly suspicious that *no* cable company or telco-operated DSL service provides even an option for increased upstream bandwidth. It's certainly not a question of demand.

Anyway, I've ranted long enough on this, and it's just going to be marked flamebait anyway. But I'm voting with my wallet, and I'm giving money to companies who are stepping up and offering SDSL because because I believe that it's important, and I'm not going to sell out to AT&T or Verizon or roadrunner or @home, who are manipulating the low end of the bandwidth market to turn us all into happy little consumers.

-DM

It's about terms of service, not technology (2)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#316391)

It's sad to see cable vs DSL degrade into a rather stupid bragging match about bandwidth per dollar. I don't see it as being about technology, it's all about terms of service. I seldom hear about a cablemodem provider that's static-IP and server friendly. Most are cold at best, and openly hostile at worst (DHCP-delivered RFC1918 addresses, NAT, port scanning, "registered" MAC addresses and so on).

DSL on the other hand, generally has easy (albeit often more expensive) access to static IPs and I have yet to hear of a DSL provider with "no services" rules. Basically it's IP dialtone that you can do with what you like.

Generally speaking, the DSL providers are interested in providing common-carrier style communications connectivity while the cable people seem more oriented towards their traditional business model -- providing a one-way conduit of entertainment. If the cable model fits you, then use it, but I suspect that most people with more than a web-centric interest in computers/internet would prefer a service that wasn't as rigid and one-dimensional as cablemodem seems to be.

I don't have a gripe with the technology. Based upon what I've read, cablemodem users generally enjoy higher bandwidth than DSL and without as many of the tech limitations. If cablemodem could deliver the *service* I get from DSL -- static IP, no server limits, reverse DNS for my IPs -- at the usual cable bandwidths, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat.

Re:Speakeasy (3)

Surak (18578) | more than 13 years ago | (#316398)

Speakeasy, and other companies like it, like my service provider, Telocity, do not actually provide the DSL service. Speakeasy goes through Covad, Telocity through Rythms. Basically, all the DSL service is provided by only a handful of companies. We had NorthPoint until recently, now there's only Covad and Rythms, not counting the ILECs (Ameritech, Verizon, whatever)...

If Rythms and Covad fold, my only alternative would be to go through Ameritech. Cable modems just started being available in my area, by I don't like the idea of being behind a router with 30 of my closest neighbors.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (3)

Surak (18578) | more than 13 years ago | (#316399)

When it comes to running servers/services, I called and asked, and after I explained what they were to the lady, she told me they had NO policy regarding anything like that, so go ahead. She may not have had any idea what she was talking about, but she did tell me it was OK

Dude, if she doesn't even know what you're talking about, the likelihood that she actually knows what the policy is in the first place is pretty slim. I checked with MediaONE, Time Warner and ComCast, all have policies against running any sort of server.

The main problem with sharing bandwidth, though, is that everyone in your neighborhood is behind a router with you... There's no security. Services and protocols that are normally not accessible via the Internet because they aren't routeable (Netbios, for one) are available to everyone in your neighborhood. This is particularly a problem if you run Windows and do not use a firewall (90+% of all cablemodem subscribers run Windows and have no firewall)

I've also heard that with some cablemodem services, they put you behind NAT and don't give you a real IP. I don't know which ones do that, or really if they do that, but that's what a guy who used to install for Comcast told me they did.

Take heed UK DSL subscribers.. (1)

pHaze (19163) | more than 13 years ago | (#316400)

I just got off the phone with my DSL provider. We signed up for DSL about 3 months ago in the knowledge that we're going to change addresses soon but wanted it bad so we didn't mind paying the £260 ($350) installation fee again. Well apparently DSL installations are non-transferable (to a different address) so if we want to move we'll have to get two DSL contracts (one of which we wont be using anymore), and at £100 ($160) per month that's gonna hurt a little. My ISP says that's not their policy, but British Telecom. And since all ADSL ISPs are BT resellers in this country, that kinda narrows our options a little.
Interesting that they dont mention this at all in my contract. I'm chatting to a lawyer later today, but since BT has a virtual monopoly in this country, they can pull stuff like this and get away with it. How comfortable for them to be guaranteed a subscriber for a year on each exchange that gets upgraded.

This is why I opted for... (1)

emc (19333) | more than 13 years ago | (#316402)

Pacific Bell.

I know that they are probably not the most popular in the minds of most consumers, but their corporate infrastructure and commitment to consumers give great strength and credability to their DSL operations.

Re:Quit complaining (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#316404)

> You think it sucks your DSL went out, be thankful you still have electricity after the Texas buddies of George Bush try to rape you on your utility bills....

FWIW, the University of Texas sent out an energy conservation memo to its employees about a month ago, asking people to turn of lights and shut down computers because their power generation people were projecting that energy costs were going to run 30-40 million $$$ over budget in the coming year.

When I heard about it I just assumed that was an odd instance of badly mis-guessing the budget... until one of said employees told me about the insert in her electric bill a couple of weeks later, explaining that utility deregulation was about to start phasing in in Texas.

Prediction: Before this time next year, Texas will be in the news with energy problems just like California has been having: rolling blackouts, tax money poured into a black hole (aka investor owned utilities' bank acounts) to keep any lights on at all, and skyrocketing rates for consumers. Probably also the same scam where power companies fall down and bleed about how much money they're losing, while their parent companies score record profits.

Not sure GuuB (MHRIH) really has anything to do with it though; the California legislature passed their power deregulation bill with bipartisan contempt for the welfare of their citizens (touting the $28 billion bailout as a sure-fire path to a 10% rate reduction, yeah, sure).

--

Re:Covad? (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#316405)

> There is nothing in the article that even remotely points to Covad disappearing...

I don't know anything first hand, but I saw this on comp.lang.ada last week:
Subject: Re: oglada@niestu.com is dead
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2001 05:14:58 GMT
From: chipr@cuppie.niestu.com (Chip Richards)
...
In article ..., Louis Granger wrote:
>I have tried to send messages to oglada@niestu.com, and there are no
>answer from that server. Anyone from niestu.com knows what going on.

Yes. NiEstu got caught in the great Covad DSL purge of 2001. There are two things happening with regard to the OGLADA mailing list:

1. NiEstu has a new connection on order. It was supposed to be installed this week, but the provider is new to our area and is running a little behind. We're hopeful for next week.
...


--

two words -fixed ip (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 13 years ago | (#316407)

I hace a dsl line with a fixed ip address. Cable didn't offer that in my area. I could have used a dyn/dns program and provider to get to my server at home, but the fixed ip makes it easier.

Speakeasy is not a DSL provider (1)

Numeric (22250) | more than 13 years ago | (#316408)

Before this threads get out of hand. SpeakEasy is an ISP with DSL service. Their DSL is provided by Covad, so if Covad fails than SpeakEasy fails.

Re:be afraid. (1)

fitsy (22336) | more than 13 years ago | (#316409)

Yeah, that's micorsoft's plan allright, but it remains to be seen how well the market takes it up. I suppose the US will lead the way as fat pipes are more common there than anywhere else, but I just cannot see people relying on an internet connection to use basic stuff like a word processor, unless MS bribes competitors (cough...Corel...Cough) to produce .Net versions of their software and there really is no choice but to upgrade to .Net versions of everything.

Secondly, there is *deep* mistrust of MS, how they _ever_ gonna overcome that, I don't know.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (2)

kressb (28493) | more than 13 years ago | (#316411)

Well, here's my experiences:

Dude, if she doesn't even know what you're talking about, the likelihood that she actually knows what the policy is in the first place is pretty slim. I checked with MediaONE, Time Warner and ComCast, all have policies against running any sort of server.

My cable provider officially has policies against servers. In reality, they don't care. Although if any server started to pull a lot of bandwidth they'd probably care.

The main problem with sharing bandwidth, though, is that everyone in your neighborhood is behind a router with you.

Got news for you. At some point, you're always sharing bandwidth. There's a shared router somewhere. Cable just does it sooner. If the cable company is good about it, they will split nodes when they get congested. If not, they won't. But trust me, DSL companies can screw up DSL too.

There's no security. Services and protocols that are normally not accessible via the Internet because they aren't routeable (Netbios, for one) are available to everyone in your neighborhood.

Sorry, but this is just BS. Any cable company that has their hardware configured like this is run by a bunch of morons. Most sane companys configure the local switches to block broadcast and non IP traffic, which means I can't access my neighbors netbios shares anymore than you can.


I've also heard that with some cablemodem services, they put you behind NAT and don't give you a real IP.


Has nothing to do with cable. Around here at least, my cable service is a real IP and my DSL service is NAT.

In the end, it all depends on the company. If it's a good cable company, you won't have to put up with overcommited bandwidth or NAT BS, or whatever. If it's a bad one, you will.
Same with DSL.

Still better off with phoneCo's for dsl? (3)

uncleFester (29998) | more than 13 years ago | (#316413)

I don't know firsthand, so I may be talking out of my ass.. but reading the comp.dcom.*.dsl group up to last year, it seemed the safest bet for DSL service was the telco themselves. As soon as you add more layers of providors, you add more layers of woe: fingerpointing of who drops the ball, who should do what service, etc etc.

I'm currently cable modem, but the area I'm looking to buy a home is rural enough DSL will be my only real hope.* Given whatever options I have at the time, I'm betting I'll still stick with the local telco providor (BellSouth) and try to ride it out.

* sorry, I don't count satellite yet. Think it's still kinda impractical

Re:Good thing I've got cable (3)

ereuter (30764) | more than 13 years ago | (#316414)

I don't care how my service comes, but this is what I want:

(1) minimum 384 kbps, both ways, 24 hours per day

(2) static IP addresses with reverse DNS set to my domain name

(3) permission to run (low-volume) servers

I haven't found any cable provide that has that, but Speakeasy DSL and Telocity DSL do.

Re:This is why I opted for... (1)

em.a18 (31142) | more than 13 years ago | (#316415)

>but I did submit a complaint via the San Francisco/Oakland BBB. No response yet.

Don't even bother with the BBB. Go straight to the Public Utilities Commission.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (2)

bahwi (43111) | more than 13 years ago | (#316419)

Even DSL is going to be a shared node, depending on the ISP you get. Say they have 50 DSL customers and only a T-1 Uplink? At the price they are selling DSL some of the companies can't even afford that. It's shared, it's just a matter of where.

As far as servers go, who cares? AT&T has one server that scans for any unauthorized servers, and my portsentry firewalled that machine a long time ago. If they can't automatically test it, how will they know? And they do support Linux/Unix, although I am running FreeBSD without a hitch, and they understand that this stuff comes with servers already running.

I'm not familiar with other cable companies, but I know roadrunner in Houston does not require cable TV, and AT&T in Dallas/Ft. Worth does not require cable TV either. In fact, they will you give the local channels and the preview guide channel free with the cable service when they install it. They are two different companies too you must realize, if you call one to complain about the other, they transfer you or give you anothe 1-800 number to call.

DSL is not something as simple as sticking a DSLAM, and a DSLAM is actually a shared access node also. The phone wire itself must be update and in top condition, and IIRC DSLAMs can support about a T1 in total transfers at once, no matter how many people there are.

Well I agree on same-speed upload/downloads, but I've never had the need to upload anything large and as long as I can download at speeds much faster than my brother could on DSL at peak hours, I'm content. =)

Re:This is why I opted for... (2)

petros (47274) | more than 13 years ago | (#316423)

commitment to consumers

You're joking, right? PacBell Internet Services has, by far, the worst customer service I have ever experienced. I've been trying to get them to fix a problem with my connection (it goes down for hours every night), and not only has it not been fixed yet, but they won't even call me back even though I've asked them to every time. Their customer support people are generally not rude, but are clueless beyond belief and are unable to handle anything that falls outside their script.

I've given up on calling them about a week ago, but I did submit a complaint via the San Francisco/Oakland BBB. No response yet.

If you think that my terrible customer service experience is an isolated incident, I encourage you to take a look at the review at www.dslreports.com [dslreports.com] , and at their rating with the San Francisco/Oakland BBB [goldengatebbb.org] (they claim that this company has an unsatisfactory record, and a pattern of ignoring customer complaints).

Switch to a Tier 2 provider... (1)

ppetrakis (51087) | more than 13 years ago | (#316424)

Like for example Choice One Communications, www.choiceonecom.com . They are more expensive than most if you only join for a year but if you sign a 5 year contract the DSL prices are about the same as Covad. They also offer T's, telco local/longdistance, and colocation. If you want a net connection that you can count on never going away switch to ISDN. To avoid the ridiculous rates charged by the phone company find a ISP that support CSV. ONly 56K per channel but you avoid that stupid tarrif. Last I had ISDN like this I paid $80 a month which included the cost of the ISDN line from the local bell AND the ISP for 112K ISDN.

Peter
--
www.alphalinux.org

Re:Quit complaining (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 13 years ago | (#316426)

Anyone can make a prediction, would you be willing to make a bet? In cash?

Later,
ErikZ
eazolan@davesworld.net

Re:The free market will find the equilibrium. (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 13 years ago | (#316428)

A line can be drawn somewhere. The ISP's T&C could clearly set down what behaviour and so on is not allowed, *and actually monitor it*.
Obviously this would require some careful planning, but at least we've tabled the idea now.

I wonder if volume-based prepay would go down well..

Re:The free market will find the equilibrium. (3)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 13 years ago | (#316430)

Here's another idea. If DSL providers actually policed their network, and culled all the script kiddies, nukers, DVD-downloaders, DDoSsers etc., they could save themself one hell of a lot of money on bandwidth charges to their upstream provider.

Regarding your comment: people (around here anyway) are willing to pay more for good service, in the broadband department. My recommendation will also improve this service, by freeing up bandwidth.

So:
1) remove lamers
2) actually charge a price that reflects the service's worth, not cut-price crap.

Re:It has been clear for some time... (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 13 years ago | (#316431)

that the only safe recommendation my company can make to our clients is to go with Pac Bell DSL. Whatever else you can say about it, they are extremely likely to be around a year from now.

Is that when they'll finally get the line installed?

What does it mean for DSL providers that... (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 13 years ago | (#316432)

At least in California, they're on notice now that they have to give 30 days of warning before shutting down (as Northpoint was told by the PUC after shutdowns had occurred).

At the point that they only have enough money + accounts receivable within that 30 days, are they technically bankrupt? Or only when the sale of their assets (presumably delayed a month too) will result in less than the cost of maintaining this public obligation, plus what the DSL provider owes creditors? IANAL so's I'se askin'.

Re:Quit complaining (1)

Sokie (60732) | more than 13 years ago | (#316433)

California's power deregulation was flawed from the get go. While the wholesale power markets were pretty much completely deregulated, the retail markets remained pretty much locked up. So it's pretty simple really, power producers hiked up the rates they charged the power companies. (As far as I can tell, they did this just because they could and it would make them more money.)

The power companies were not allowed to pass this increase along to consumers, so yes, the power companies actually did start bleeding money. These companies went from having AAA credit ratings before deregulation, to not being able to pawn their firstborn for cash.

What I've heard is that it is not really a power production shortage in CA, it's that the power companies can't afford to buy any power from the producers. That's what the State was considering buying power directly from the producers and then basically giving it to the power companies.

If I were Texas, or one of the other states currently with deregulation plans, I'd make sure to think things through thoroughly (how'd you like that alliteration?) and maybe even check them over with an economics professor to make sure I didn't bankrupt my utilities.

Deregulation isn't bad...pseudo-deregulation is bad.

Porn (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 13 years ago | (#316434)

it downloads pretty quickly over a DSL connection.

Not that I'd know personally. Maybe someone should start bundling DSL with a subscription to a porn site.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (2)

e. boaz (67350) | more than 13 years ago | (#316436)

Neverrtfm> For that matter, can anyone help my clueless self with an idea why ppl would choose a DSL company(esp. one that has to go through another layer of ISP) over cable?

Well, here the only cable modem provider that is available in my area is Time Warner's Road Runner service. Ever since I moved to my new residence, the service has been horrible. I have seen latencies of >4000ms in the evenings, with some timeouts as well. My wife plays an MMORPG, because of this and packet-loss (stand back! I've got traceroute and I know how to use it!) she sees 16 - 30 second delays during game play. I've seen downloads (my house friends house, 200 feet apart) range in speeds from 30kb/sec at the best (we have upload rate restrictions) to 30bytes/sec.

Cable modem is horrible once you get enough subscribers hooked up to the system (IMOE, in my own experience.) Even more outrageous, we were told this area was only at 60% capacity. Heavens help us when it reaches 90%.

Lastly, RR does *not* offer static IP's because they do not want people running servers. RR also runs weekly scans of their network, to catch the poeple who run servers and boot them from the network.

So tell me why I shouldn't want DSL service from someone like Speakeasy who doesn't care if I run servers and will even give me SLA with a specified CIR?

If you don't own the wire, you're screwed (2)

iceT (68610) | more than 13 years ago | (#316437)

It is rapidly appearing that, if you don't own the wire all the way to the end-point, you can't survive. If you own the wire (cable, or copper), you can leverage the cost of that connection over the OTHER service(s) you provide (or you've already bore the burden of that physical media cost, therefore you only need to fund the new service, and not the service and the wire).

In DSL land, the ILECs, CLECs, and ISP's all have to have a markup, AND it has to fit within the 'Yeah,I'll pay that much per month' dollar amount; usually $40-$50/mo. At $13-$16 per user, per month, per service provider, that's not a lot of room for making money.

It's the same for phone-line based ISPs. Most of the mom-and-pop ISPs are toast, cause they can't compete with the AT&T $7/month for unlimited internet access AND $.07/minute long distance. They just don't have the leverage from other ventures.

Re:Quit complaining (1)

mrseth (69273) | more than 13 years ago | (#316438)

I don't know about that. So far, everything I use that has been deregulated now costs me much more. Congress deregulated the banks, now I pay to use an ATM. They deregulated the cable companies and my bill just about doubled for the same sevice over a very short period of time. So if the CA power companies were "properly" deregulated, I have no doubt that the normal residential customer would be taking in the rear with no lube. Of course I notice before these sorts of deregulation occur, that you see ads on TV and in your bill about "how competition through deregulation will cut costs to you..." Of course these ads are paid for by the regulated entity, so I am skeptical. I am really sure that these corporations are just feeling all warm and fuzzy inside and want to help out us poor customers out of the goodness of their heart instead of gouging the shit out of us so the CEO can buy a new fucking Mercedes SUV (the dumbest thing I've ever seen) to waste valuable resources and impress his friends. Well, like I said, cable is deregulated...want to take a guess at how many cable companies I have to choose from? One.

Sorry for the rant:)

Re:Quit complaining (1)

mrseth (69273) | more than 13 years ago | (#316439)

The sad thing is that the eco-nuts (I am one I might add) won't let anyone build nuclear power plants. This is one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy available with our present technology. I think it is a good short term solution until fuel cell, or better yet fusion technology comes to fruition.

Don't forget DSL.net (3)

pavo (70713) | more than 13 years ago | (#316441)

There are 3 companies (not Bells) that have their OWN dsl equipment. Covad and Rythms have been mentioned, but don't forget about DSL.net. Unlike Speakeasy or Telocity, DSL.net is a DSL provider AND an ISP. I have a 1.5Mb SDSL line from them in Connecticut and have never had a problem with it (over a year now). They DO have a service level agreement that specifies exactly what I'll get and what they'll do. For markets that they don't have their own DSL equipment they partner with Covad. And I sleep easy, DSL.net has one of the best balance sheets of anyone in the industry. They had some lay-offs last year, but now they look good (look at their SEC filings online).

This is one of the reasons... (2)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 13 years ago | (#316442)

This is one of the reasons I'm planning on switching to a regional ISP...

I've been using USIT.NET, which got bought by ONEMAIN and then became part of EARTHLINK.

For this reason I plan on switching to a different ISP, one that is based here in Tennessee and doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. (I know people who work for them and the company seems very solid, even if relatively small.)

My logic behind switching to these guys (ISDN.NET) is that by getting DSL through them (along with web hosting services and a few other things) I'm supporting a competitor of Bellsouth.Net.

Even though Bellsouth is just reselling their lines to ISDN.NET, I like knowing that I didn't choose Bellsouth.NET directly. It's almost the only way I can stick my middle finger up to them.

I would've already dropped USIT/EARTHLINK if it weren't for the fact that I won't be able to get the DSL line until JUNE!

"Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"

Regarding Covad/Rhythms... (1)

zerodvyd (73333) | more than 13 years ago | (#316445)

I work for a company that had been reselling a company's DSL solutions. That company was actually reselling for Rhythms. Rhythms for now, seems to be stable. There had been rumors of them terminating all East Coast operations, but I do know that they are watching their earnings like a hawk. We service a few (now former) NorthPoint customers. They only got switched to Rhythms because the afore mentioned reseller had been reselling NorthPoint for a while. They experienced 2 days of downtime. the dsl circuits were already at the site and live, it was a misconfiguration on a router that caused the problem.

We had a Rhythms DSL connection at one of our offices, and we received a termination notice (hmm). The date the plug was to be pulled has come and gone, as far as I know we're still up with it.

as an aside, my home dsl connection is through the local RBOC (SNET), so I just have to deal with their service and support as opposed to companies that haven't been around for as long a time.

just my $0.02
zerodvyd

Re:Good thing I've got cable (1)

Kishar (83244) | more than 13 years ago | (#316446)

For what it's worth, my "business class" cable connection (at home) runs about $90, and I have no restrictions on what servers I run. The 800kbps to 1Mbps up isn't bad, but I sometimes wish it matched my average of 4Mbps down.
Oh, and they'd be happy to hook up a non-CATV customer, for $10/mo extra (for residential accounts, business accounts incur no fee.)
--

Re:The Real Issues (1)

Kishar (83244) | more than 13 years ago | (#316447)

I'll take a stab at it.
Joe T-1 pays in the neighborhood of $1000/mo.
That's about $670/Mbps

Billy's Big Company has 8 of the suckers, so he pays less. Perhaps $800/mo ea.
That's about $530/Mbps

Ralph's T-3 Cafe has a pretty good deal at #21,400
That's about $475/Mbps

See where I'm going with this?
Even the big buyers of lots of bandwidth pay big dollars. If my circuit is consistantly 3Mbps down, and I *use* it, I'm getting at least $600 "worth" of bandwidth for my $100/mo.
--

Companies to busy to handle existing customers... (1)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 13 years ago | (#316457)

Our office has DSL through a Covad & Northpoint reseller. Our access tanked two days before the Northpoint network was shut off. Getting to technical support when everything is FINE is just about impossible - with Northpoint dead it's totally impossible!

We've been down since two days before the turn down and we have never received a return call or email about our problem.

After much time on the phone I did manage to speak to a salesdroid who said that they were do busy dealing with NP customers (moving to new service, etc.) they had basically put everything else on hold. He wasn't able to even give me an ETA on getting a tech to email me to give me an ETA!

Needless to say, I ordered a T1 a few days ago. It might cost me 3x - 4x more per month, but I know my connection won't suck and it won't go down. I'll also be able to get more than a /29 with out begging and screaming!
-----

Re:Tech + Business = (2)

jacobcaz (91509) | more than 13 years ago | (#316458)

Is it even possible to run a technology based business anymore?

Sure! Look at the adult industry. Who do you think is making money, and has been making money all through this dot-com revolution and shake out?


-----

Re:Mindspring DSL (1)

aclute (94263) | more than 13 years ago | (#316461)

I'm confused? Are you upset because you mighy have to pay $70 a month for a DSL line? You realize that any fractional T is going to cost you at least $200 a month in local loop charges alone? I looked into getting a 512 connection (8 Channels), and it was $430 a month ($210 local loop; $220 pop) with a 3-year contract. Not cheap!

Re:Good thing I've got cable (1)

aclute (94263) | more than 13 years ago | (#316462)

Cable slows down when people watch TV.

Ha ha ha ha!

You're kidding, right? You don't really believe that, do you?

Rhythms (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 13 years ago | (#316465)

We were just talking about this this morning. Rhythms is down to 28 cents a share, from a 52-week high of around $35. On the plus side, buying $20 worth of stock now could make you a nice profit if it rebounds. On the minus side, all those North Point refugees are going to be reamed if it doesn't.

-Legion

Re: from the article...(a stupid question) (1)

Pogie (107471) | more than 13 years ago | (#316470)

It's not a stupid question. Here's my response, but if there are economists out there, they can give you a better (and probably more correct)answer:

Covad, Northpoint, Rythms, etc, are all service-based businesses with massive infrastructure costs. It costs a lot of money to install the bridges and switches in each ILEC CO so that they can hook up residences and businesses with DSL. While they do sell stock, they also built most of their infrastructure BEFORE the IPO's, using venture-capital (or other bond type) funding. Now, basically this means that they took out a bunch of loans, which they have to make regular payments on.

The problem with the stock dropping is that a public company (one that sells stock) is technically only worth as much as the value of it's issued shares. So when the stock price drops by 98%, the value of the company drops by 98%, at least on paper. Add to that the negative value of massive loans that need to be repaid, and suddenly (on paper) the company is worth less than zero. This doesn't mean the company's bankrupt, it just means that the paper value of the company is zero. If they keep making money hand over fist each month, and paying their creditors on time, etc, then eventually the company will climb out of debt and start accumulating non-market value, which presumably would get reflected in the stock price once shareholders start receiving dividends again.

The big whammy in this case is that the DSL providers are having problems getting their customers to fork over the cash. So even though the DSL provider is spending large amounts of cash on a monthly basis to maintain their infrastructure, lease space at the CO, pay the Electric comany, etc, their influx of cash from their customers isn't stable. So what does a company do when it's customers aren't paying but it has to pay the bills? It takes out a loan based upon the company's value, and pays it's bills.

But in the case of these DSL folks, their value is in the toliet. And while everyone wants to loan you money when you're trading at 50 bucks a share, nobody wants to loan you money two months later when the net worth of the company is somewhere around zero (on paper).

That's why they care about their stock price. This explanation may be plain wrong, so don't hang your hat on it, but it's how I think things work.

Ciao.

And Rhythms... (1)

Dr. Nonsense (116117) | more than 13 years ago | (#316473)

When Winfire.com/FreeDSL.com [winfire.com] recently decided to shut down just recently, letters were sent to current and almost-subscribers stating that one could switch over to Rhythms and that they had an exclusive agreement with Telocity.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (1)

The Madpostal Worker (122489) | more than 13 years ago | (#316474)

You still have that shared bandwidth problem at the DSLAM itself, phone companies often oversell the bandwidth _out_ of the CO.

/*
*Not a Sermon, Just a Thought
*/

Re:Why don't they charge enough money to support i (1)

Wolfstar (131012) | more than 13 years ago | (#316477)

Then you're making a mistake. Don't mean to be blunt and rude, but them's the breaks.

Your business class DSL comes with no uptime guarantees. Telcos purposely drag their feet when they have to dispatch on a DSL. Support varies from ISP to ISP badly enough. And worst of all, there is NOTHING ELSE with a lower priority than DSL when there's major storms/natural disaster outages. Priority goes like this:

1. Optical Backbone circuits - OC-192 to OC-3
2. T-6/T-3 lines
3. 911 Emergency Service
4. T-1 lines
5. Frame Relay
6. ISDN Lines
7. Voice/POTS lines
8. DSL

Further, you will get LESS bang for your buck at equivalent speeds, because - simply put - you've got a 10% overhead built-in, since most DSL Providers use ATM-based DSL setups. 5 out of every 53 bytes of data is header information that gets stripped out by the modem or router.

If you've got a business, and you need an internet connection, get a T-1. Or even a Frame Relay. Anything else and you might as well be gambling.

Re:Covad? (4)

Wolfstar (131012) | more than 13 years ago | (#316481)

The Great Covad DSL Purge of 2001 was actually the leftovers of 2000. This was not, will not be, and all-around has VERY little negative effect on Covad.

The only purges that Covad has been doing are those where they're pulling gear out of thoroughly unprofitable COs - because, for instance, there aren't enough subscribers to afford the cage (we're talking two or three people in the CO here) - and the shutdown of service to those ISPs that are unwilling or unable to pay their bills to Covad. If anything, this made them MORE reliable as a long-term prospect. They dropped their dead weight, and their customer service at it's worst was light-years better than Northpoint's average - and still a bit better than Northpoint at it's best.

If someone got caught in a purge, then they went with a dinky little ISP that didn't pay their bills and didn't let it be known that they were in danger of losing connectivity. These providers - ALL providers that sold Covad DSL for that matter - were notified of the impending shutdowns. Covad even had a project set up to help customers transfer to new ISPs. Speakeasy was one of them - and it's still going on. (Semi-Disclaimer: I work for RCN, but Speakeasy is my DSL Provider. There's reasons, but most of it boils down to cost.)

Rule Number One of DSL: If your business relies on it's net connection, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE DSL AS A PRIMARY CONNECTION! I cannot stress that enough! DSL has absolutely NO service agreements, beyond a guaranteed 80% of rated line-speed for "business" class SDSL circuits. DSL is great for the home, and good for a backup circuit, but don't think it's a T-1 for cheap.

Trust in the fact that, if ANYONE goes ANYWHERE anytime soon, it won't be Covad. They're running strong, they laid off a few people back about 6-8 months ago. After that, their support IMPROVED. They reorganized, and they're running better than ever. And their service is better, more reliable, and usually more intelligently-staffed than just about any of the local Telcos are. Do your homework on DSL, and you won't get burned.

Re:The free market will find the equilibrium. (4)

Wolfstar (131012) | more than 13 years ago | (#316482)

The problem isn't that DSL doesn't work. It's cut-rate pricing offered by myopic providers to feed myopic customers that leads to a sudden boom followed by a bust.

This isn't necessarily true. The local telcos are legally only able to charge a minimal fee to CLECs - Competitive Local Exchange Carriers, which is technically what a DSL provider is - of around $7 for the local loop. The DSL providers then turn around and sell access to their network for X number of dollars, plus a fee per circuit of - I THINK - around $40 per line. (This is what it was about a year ago; whether or not that's changed since then, I don't know.) On top of that, you get whatever else the ISP charges. The rates aren't cut that much really; you're looking at an over 300% profit on the loop charge alone, and I know that most DSL ISPs that are worth looking at twice are charging around $60 for a 608/128 line, $90 for 1536/384 lines, and around $50 for a 192k SDSL line, working up. (Highest I've seen is $450/month for a 1.5Mbit SDSL line with some real nice side perks.)

DSL is far from cut-rate; the companies involved just happened to jump in too early to gain the early ground on it. Support costs a lot for DSL, although that's changing with the new Rate Adaptive Error Correction software out there. My line had a hard short on it at one point about two months ago, that I found out about quite by accident. My DSL line was still up through it, and - having troubleshot for umpteen million DSL circuits - I know that a hard short on a SDSL line takes it down. (In case you're wondering, the reason it isn't applied is because it would break the guarantees of speed on an SDSL line. The error correction drops your speed to compensate for loss of signal strength.)

I agree that DSL doesn't really work - currently - but I don't agree that it's because of cut-rate pricing. These companies are making up lost ground, but they're doing it slowly, because they can't afford to tinker with it to get it to work better.

Semi-useless factoid for the day. Copper-based T-1s are usually HDSL, which is the oldest of the DSL types. It's the repeaters and switching equipment - along with the cost of the loop and REALLY strict Service Level Agreements - that make all the difference in the world.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (4)

Wolfstar (131012) | more than 13 years ago | (#316483)

Sure, why not. I've been posting more tonight than I ever have since I first started reading Slashdot. =)

For starters, there's the old saw about the shared node. With DSL, you don't need to wonder what's going to happen to your bandwidth when the rest of the neighborhood wakes up and smells the fat pipe. Another big one is, 99% of the cable providers out there throw a fairly big stink when you try and run a server over a cablemodem - once they get around to noticing it. My DSL ISP - Speakeasy - has two restrictions: No porn websites, and no IRC Servers. (And even that they can overlook if it's a single-node server and not part of a network, I think.)

In addition to that, DSL is cheaper. How? What if I don't WANT cable TV? Most cable companies won't sell you cablemodem access without a TV subscription as well. (Rare, but true. One of my friends is stuck with this dilemma.) Also, DSL is available where many times cablemodem isn't. Reverse is also true, of course, but unlike cablemodem access, you don't need to upgrade the existing infrastructure to accomodate DSL. Just stick a DSLAM in a central office and start plugging in lines.

Lastly, very few cable companies want to give you the same bandwidth upstream as you have downstream, without paying a LOT of money for it. DSL is comparatively cheap for synchronous speeds.

Hope that answers some of your questions. Incidentally, line conditions for DSL and Cable both are much better than average in Seattle, since there isn't a couple hundred years of cruft in the way.

Why don't they charge enough money to support it? (2)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 13 years ago | (#316485)

We are about the only northpoint customer still alive.

Being that we're using them for business lines, I would GLADLY pay more money to have a stable service. I'm talking about SDSL not ADSL. ADSL is fine for the home user. Charge a bit more for SDSL and as long as it's bang for buck ratio is better than T1 I will buy it.

Re:This is one of the reasons... (2)

pjrc (134994) | more than 13 years ago | (#316486)

This is one of the reasons I'm planning on switching to a regional ISP...

Enjoy it while you can. Sure, getting good service from someone local, having a network admin who's actually in your state, not having all your calls go to a "call center", and lots of other nice advantage of a local ISP will likely be as hard to find as a locally owned video store, now that Blockbuster and Hollywood have bought them all up.

Re:The reason DSL failed (3)

pjrc (134994) | more than 13 years ago | (#316487)

I though the printing press got its start print the bible. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

It has been clear for some time... (1)

FriscoJohn (135372) | more than 13 years ago | (#316488)

that the only safe recommendation my company can make to our clients is to go with Pac Bell DSL. Whatever else you can say about it, they are extremely likely to be around a year from now.

Re:Take heed UK DSL subscribers.. (1)

TomV (138637) | more than 13 years ago | (#316489)

I understand your government-run healthcare system sucks as bad as your government-run telecom system. Is this true?

Thanks for your sincere concern, but actually, our government-run healthcare system works a whole lot better than our privately-run £1000/second-profitable telecom system. And a darned sight better than the privately-owned recurring lethal diaster that is all that's left of the railway we built with our taxes.

TomV

Speakeasy (3)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 13 years ago | (#316493)

As the other DSL providers go under I see the Speakeasy network grow. I had requests in for DSL from three providers for over a year, one folding, one just flat out ignoring all new requests and one not able to get the bell company around here to put in a line because you didn't go through the local bell company. I wonder how many of those smaller companies went under because of non-responsiveness of the bell companies?

Speakeasy took less than a month and service has been outstanding for the three months that I've had service.

DanH
Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]

Re:Pendulum swung the other way (3)

don_carnage (145494) | more than 13 years ago | (#316494)

Good point. I think a lot of investors are nervous about tech because of the downfall of the "dot-com" industry. (If I hear that buzz-word one more time...)

It won't be long before the companies that still exist as major internet players will be noticed again and everyone will be happy.

So...when can they install the fiber to my house?

--

Re:Speakeasy (1)

genka (148122) | more than 13 years ago | (#316495)

I don't like the idea of being behind a router with 30 of my closest neighbors.
30 neighbors is way too optimistic. In my area Comcast runs 2 Class C subnets iver the same cable. That is about 500 neighbors. Still, I get 1MBps downloads in the evening peak time.

Other DSL Providers (1)

LightningTH (151451) | more than 13 years ago | (#316496)

I have DSL thru SpeakEasy.net [speakeasy.net] . They are a very large provider and any person with DSL from an ISP that goes thru COVAD can swap over to them without any problems.

With the recent closing of a few DSL providers, they have taken in thousands of people. If your DSL provider is going under, i'd jump over to Speakeasy's website and give them a call or send them an email. What is even better is that they run linux systems and love setting up on linux systems (if someone needs help getting it setup). Their phone support is growing daily and aiming for a 5 min or less wait on hold and email support is sub-24 hour reply.

The free market will find the equilibrium. (2)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 13 years ago | (#316497)

The problem isn't that DSL doesn't work. It's cut-rate pricing offered by myopic providers to feed myopic customers that leads to a sudden boom followed by a bust.

Consolidation and streamlining will follow. The numerous competing technologies will eventually give way to a few popularly supported technology. (ADSL-G.lite and G.dmt standards.)

Unless alternative technologies offer clear cost/performance benefits, the standard will eventually be entrenched. Prices will go up for a while, but so will the quality-of-service. Eventually, improvements in the technology will stabilize the price, and the threat of new entrants will (hopefully) bring the prices down.

And, when the new technology is clearly superior, it then becomes the norm. The old (mature) technology dies away, or becomes relegated to lower price-points.

It was true for transportation -- steam-ships gave way to locomotives which gave way to airplanes. The pony express gave way to telegraphs which gave way to telephones. It was true for private communication networks with Telex giving way to early national private networks (Tymnet, EasyLink, and others that I don't even remember) which are giving way to the Internet.

In the long term, the free market will figure it out. In the meanwhile, sometimes, you're just stuck having bet on the losing technology.

Covad and capitalization (2)

Cannonball (168099) | more than 13 years ago | (#316501)

I recently called up my DSL provider (Covad vice Toad.net) and asked about the whole situation since Northpoint was going under, and the whole nine yards. I had assurances from our DSL coordinator that Covad would at minimum, be around until late 2002 and is expected a rosier financial situation in early 2002. Granted, I only have 2 months left in my current apartment and don't have too much to worry about, but it's not like they're packing it up just yet, folks. Let's not get too freaked out yet.

Re:The reason DSL failed (1)

fohat (168135) | more than 13 years ago | (#316502)

Nah, i use my DSL through Covad for Porn all the time. the family man probably does too... ;) -fohat

Re: from the article... (1)

CoreWalker (170935) | more than 13 years ago | (#316503)

Meanwhile, Covad has curtailed its expansion plans.
Share prices have already slid more than 98 percent for Covad and Rhythms... Covad shares closed Tuesday at $1-1/32, down 3/16, or 15.4 percent, after a 52-week high of $49.
Covad's bonds are now trading below 10 cents on the dollar...
Now, I don't know much about business, and I can't say this means that COVAD is disappearing, but there certainly is enough said in the article about COVAD. It looks like it's being lumped in with the rest of the DSL providers because it's having the same problems as the rest of the DSL providers.

Re:Speakeasy (1)

MoldyZero (177246) | more than 13 years ago | (#316504)

i agree, Speakeasy DSL is probably the best service out there... there site even shows how geeky they are and includes FUN stuff... such as their kontent.net, and they include quotes of the day... see any other provider... all it says is on a simple white backgrounded design "we are the best". the next month they are out of business...

----------------
I am Moldy.

Re:Tech + Business = (2)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 13 years ago | (#316507)

I think it is possible. The real problem is its improbable. There are at least two factors making it impossible to get anywhere with the DSL market. 1. The real promise of DSL is high quality, high speed internet connections, always on, always available. Unfortunately those that are rolling out DSL are not living up to the promise, in the way's that people expect. I have had both DSL and Cable Modem in the past year, actually I still do...infact my company has both, for different purposes. In general people expect DSL to live up to the promised speeds, with the reliability we expect from the Phone company(Say what you will, but I can remember at least 100 times the power has gone out at my house but the phone is still working, NO ONE lives up to the kind of service except the phone company). DSL is not POTS though, but we are told its a phone type tech so we expect that level of service from it. More so since its a phone tech for getting on the internet we expect it to cost the same as that 56K dialup we have been using for years. The more informed DSL might even recognize the technology shift, and resultant price increase for what it is(I do anyway) and expect to pay more for this kind of access, BUT not what the DSL companies want to charge, COVAD charging $359 for 1.5 Symetric is just way out of line.(I would pay up to $100, and think most others would too, $100 a month is well within the typical geek budget, $359 is alittle insane) Now hold on let me give you the reason I think this so, before you fly of the Flame handle at me. I have one of these $359 line from Covad, but I also have a AT&T/Mediaone(Whoever they are this week) cable modem at the same site(remember they are for different reasons, if your truely interested in the details I can fill them in later) for $39.99 a month a get 1.5 down, and a variable speed up which varies between 300-1.1 according to my monitors. The DSL is the rock soild connectivity to the site, the Cable modem serves other purposes really just an administrative connection that doesn't effect the datasteam of my customers. So basically what I can deduce from all this is a question of volume, and/or administrative costing being the problem. A good look at this reveals how to fit the situation. Any DSL company is reliant on the TELco(s) in the area to get that line to the users house/business(A fee that gets passed along to the customer, ever wonder why Verizon can give you virtually the same access as Covad at half the price, in the business market). Cable modem got around this it uses the Cable line thats been there for 20+ years now basically. They had to do some work on the backend, and on the poles to get Cable modem inplace, but it was almost seemless and required very little change in the last mile. DSL is all last mile. So this brings up the idea of volume. Draw your own conclusion here, but it seems to me that its alot easier for cable modem to scale up fast. DSL requires alot more changes to get up to that scale and costs alot more, all that cost has to be go someplace, the consumer. It doesn't have to though. Right now because DSL must pretty much be installed by the local Telco who if they are not your DSL provider are a competator with your DSL provider. This means higher costs all around. For install, for rackspace in the CO for DSlams, etc. How to fix this problem? The smae way the cable company did, they lay their own line(or at least contract for someone to do it), maintain their own facilities, and have their own backbone connections(more so with the Mediaone/AT&T merger, which BTW I think is a good thing, if they would take the cable modem networks to the next level, and offer enterprise level connections, which the technology is able to do, white papers on some of the cable modem models put them at 10 Symetric or higher) That leads to the other big problem for DSL not provided by the local telco(s) everyone around them competes with them. If they did the right thing and started building their own infrastructure, they would still have to buy bandwidth from somene who potentially competes with them either the DSL or Cable Modem market. How to solve this, take the backbone away from the big players, make it a common resource that all providers can get access to, for the same rates. And there you have it equal access for all, would make the maret flatten out, and then service would be king because everyone could fight fairly in the price war. DSL has way to many price barriers.

Re:Why don't they charge enough money to support i (1)

dohnut (189348) | more than 13 years ago | (#316510)


Right, and also, ADSL can and does support identical up and down speeds, up to 1 Mb/s. SDSL supports this up to 1.5 Mb/s. But with ADSL you can keep increasing the download speed while keeping the upload at 1 Mb/s. The download speed can reach 7+ Mb/s while SDSL is stuck at 1.5 Mb/s. And from what I've seen SDSL is much more expensive to set up.

I've got a "synchronous" ADSL line btw. 768 Kb/s up and down.

Value? (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 13 years ago | (#316511)

I think that this just means that the concept of "value" is pretty dodgy.

Tom.

Could be worse (1)

ZanshinWedge (193324) | more than 13 years ago | (#316513)

I heard from a friend (and I haven't confirmed this by the way) that someone (IIRC AT&T, might be wrong) bought a small DSL provider recently, except, they didn't take on any of their customers. Just dumped 'em, all. Wasn't worth all the support headaches to deal with them I guess. It's a cruel world.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (1)

dj28 (212815) | more than 13 years ago | (#316518)

Wrong. I have Comcast@Home right now and im not behind a NAT. I have a static IP. My speeds constantly hits 3mbps.

Re: from the article...(a stupid question) (1)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 13 years ago | (#316521)

Here's a dumb question (I don't know anything about economics and stuff):

Who cares what a company's stock is trading at? What does that have to do with the health of a company? It seems to me that stock price of a company simply reflects the opinion of the not-so-bright masses about that company.

It also seems to me that a company worrying about its stock price is like Ford worrying about how much used Explorers are selling for. What does it matter? Ford has already sold the automobile. Covad has already sold the stock! The only people who should care are used-car dealers. In the case of the stock market, the only people who should care are traders.

Can someone explain this to me?

Re:Good thing I've got cable (2)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 13 years ago | (#316522)

Services and protocols that are normally not accessible via the Internet because they aren't routeable (Netbios, for one) are available to everyone in your neighborhood.

NetBEUI may not be routeable, but NetBIOS most certainly is. How do you think programs like Winnuke work over the internet? Or Windows file sharing on an Intranet that has more than one subnet ?
---

Well not everyone can get cable (1)

TalShiar00 (238873) | more than 13 years ago | (#316527)

I can get cable while I am at school, i have it and love it. But when I go back home I am unable to get cable which leaves me with DSL. Right now cable is a much better choice. I had DSL at home untill northpoint died but now I need to find another DSL provider. If anyone has a good DSL provider in Sonoma County, Ca reply to this I need high spped once again.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (1)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 13 years ago | (#316528)

Right on Bro!
I've Had RoadRunner since October, have yet to have it come down, except when the power goes out.
I get about 300kbps download, Basically, when I'm downloading a CD or something, its the server, not me, thats going slower.

Re:Speakeasy (1)

LordArathres (244483) | more than 13 years ago | (#316529)

I agree. I am an ex flashcom customer, who nicely NEVER charged me for anything (THANK YOU!!!), and switched to speakeasy. The old modem still worked and everything is cool. Speakeasy lets you run any type of server you want including DNS servers and if you run a Game server you might be eligble for $10 discount. Havent tried that yet but I might when I get some time. Although pricey at $90 bucks a month, but the Terms of Service make up for it. I PRAY that Covad doesnt die which is the provider speakeasy is going through.

Arathres

That's what I did, went through frontier/global (1)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#316533)

crossing for my DSL.

It's all one provider (telephone and DSL), the tech help is knowledgeable enough, and GlobalCrossing is not about to go out of business.

Mindspring DSL (2)

Anml4ixoye (264762) | more than 13 years ago | (#316535)

I personally am fed up with all the DSL problems, to a degree. It is unfortunate that these companies could not sustain themselves, but even more so AFTER they introduced the concept of fast home access to the end-user.

I have been using Mindspring (Earthlink, whatever) for about three years as my dial-up service. When they released DSL about 8 months ago, I jumped on it, mainly because they offered free (DIY)installation, a free modem, and I could keep my existing email address, a big point for me.

Then it turned out, after I got everything, that I would have to use a completely different email address, and the only way I could keep my existing Email address was to pay an addition 19.95 a month, on top of the DSL fee. But, in reading the service agreement, I found out that they don't start billing you until the first time you logon with their username and password.

So I hooked it up, and logged it with my dial-up password. Worked like a charm. And I was only paying 19.95 a month (because technically I never 'activated' the service).

But alas, I got my bill last night and they finally caught on and charged me 49.95. So now it's time to think about a fractional T1 or somethig similar. I've had cable, and couldn't stand the service given by Time Warner, so that's out.

Oh how I miss the days of 2400...*sigh*

implosion explosion (3)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#316536)

"The difficulty of taking on equipment, other than what your own network is designed for, is severe. There's almost no market for an arbitrary piece of equipment."

Apparently this guy has never heard of eBay. This is as good of a time as any, for just one company to pick up the slack and firesale prices as well as customers of some of these companies. Sure the market is grim right now but as history shows it cannot stay there, and should a company jump up and purchase the equipment and accounts, they could actually make money.

First off with the economy in a slow downturn, you'd save a heck of a lot more money buying surplus stuff from companies like these, at the fraction of a cost. Secondly you'd already have accounts from them as well, the question is whether or not DSL is actually a dead technology, and the answer is no.

Given the monopolization of the Bells over phone lines, this is the only issue truly affecting these companies. If customers aren't paying, then its the company's own fault, not the Bells.

All you need is one company to face the facts, sure the market is bullish, which also means no one is going to be spending an arm and a leg buying newer equipment and technologies for a while, so why not capitalize on whats in front of them right now. DSL isn't going anywhere, even if AT&T isn't buying any new DSL assets, who the hell said they were the definitive *anything* of DSL to begin with? So I truly believe there is money to be made as long as the company believes in long term growth as opposed to short term profits, which is one of the biggest problems that lead to most of the Venture Capital firms demise in funding. Everyone thought about making the fastest dollar, and shitty technologies messed things up for a lot of good business ideas, and companies.

Now for those customers using the services such as Covad, or any other that may have gone under or are going under, I saw a judge forced a company to pick up the slack, and what I would do is re-check some of those legally bonding contracts you signed when you purchased the service, and make sure these companies no matter what hold up to their end of the bargain or refund the difference.

Ghost in the Shell [antioffline.com]

Re:Good thing I've got cable (1)

Neverrtfm (303783) | more than 13 years ago | (#316540)

Same here, the vast(90%+) majority of the time, my speed is limited much more by server speed than my connection speed. I found this out after bitterly complaining to MDM about dl speeds. They got back to me almost instantly, with a nice list of unaffiliated benchmark sites across the west coast that showed that my line speed was most definitely not the problem. I highly recommend MDM on the basis of near instant and dedicated customer service personnel. Price could be better(55$/month), but I'm not complainin'.

Re:Good thing I've got cable (2)

Neverrtfm (303783) | more than 13 years ago | (#316541)

That's true, it's not synchronous, I believe I get 256K upload speed, but if I'm wrong, it's higher. Also, they didn't even try to sell me cable TV(maybe because I told them, truthfully, that I don't own a TV, and have no intention of buying one).

When it comes to running servers/services, I called and asked, and after I explained what they were to the lady, she told me they had NO policy regarding anything like that, so go ahead. She may not have had any idea what she was talking about, but she did tell me it was OK.

And lucky me, I live in a poor-ass neighborhood, I'm convinced I'm one of about three people that can afford broadband here.

Good thing I've got cable (3)

Neverrtfm (303783) | more than 13 years ago | (#316542)

Hmmm, I've never been happier w/ my cable modem then immediately after reading this. I got upgraded to 1.5mbps a few weeks ago, from about 800kbps normally, and it's made a huge difference. /. loads in about 2-3 seconds, and everything else is fast too.

I wonder if the disintegrating DSL market has anything to do with the fact that(at least in Seattle area) cable service is better, cheaper, and faster? I've been much happier w/ my cable(Millenium Digital Media) than any of my buddies w/ DSL. For that matter, can anyone help my clueless self with an idea why ppl would choose a DSL company(esp. one that has to go through another layer of ISP) over cable? Not trying to be inflammatory, if anyone cares, just curious.

Covad? (1)

loggia (309962) | more than 13 years ago | (#316545)

There is nothing in the article that even remotely points to Covad disappearing except it sounded good to lump all the DSL companies together.

Ok, I have a question... (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 13 years ago | (#316546)

What the hell is a "T6" line? YOu're not the first person I've heard mention it, but I can find no information or references to their existance and I work in a position where I would think I'd have heard of this (Network Operations). I've checked Cisco, Foundry, AT&T and no such connection seems to exist. As I was always taught the T series lines corrispond to the digital signal spec, which is why they are also called DS lines. A DS0 is your basic phone circut and is 64kbps. A DS1 is a set of 24 of them, so 1.544mbps and is frequently sold over copper wire (a T1 line). A DS2 is 4 DS2 circuts or 6.312mbps. A DS3 is 7 DS2s or 44.736mbps, a circut this size is often sold on coax or fibre (T3). A DS4 is 4 DS3s or 178.944mbps.

Now to the best of my knowledge, the largest single line link you can buy on this technology is a DS-3. If you need more bandwidth than that you either get multiple DS-3 links or go with something like an OC-3. So, please enlighten me as to what a T-6 circut is, I'm rather curious.

Pendulum swung the other way (2)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 13 years ago | (#316547)

Current stock market is very scared of anything to do with online technology. The pendulum swung into irrational exuberance back in 99', and now it's swung far the other way to the extreme. Wait till the market wisens up and the economy picks up. There's definitely a bright future in DSL. If they die, I'll start one hehe.

---------
Did you just fart? Or do you always smell like that?

It's the bond prices, stupid (2)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 13 years ago | (#316548)

"Covad's bonds are now trading below 10 cents on the dollar, Rhythms' below 9 cents, and NorthPoint's at about 1.5 cents."

So the financial markets give covad and rythms less than a 10% chance of surviving long enough to pay their corporate debt. With all due respect to the covad and rythms fans (*cough*stockholders*cough*) this article doesn't put forth a radical viewpoint... as far as the bond market is concerned, it's not if but when.

ILEC pricing must have had a lot to due with their untimely demise. While the immediate problem these company face is insufficient capital to continue operating and no access to additional capital through the bond markets, who knows what the situation would be if these companies could have charged the 2x-3x their current prices for the last few years.

I'm not sure what the situation was in other parts of the country, but here in the Bay Area the cheapest i could order DSL for before PacBell entered the market was somewhere north of $200. Then PacBell started offering 1500/128 for $50. Within months, northpoint and covad were offering consumer packages below $100. Now, I don't know a lot about the economics of offering copper wire DSL service, but I do know something about ISP service, and the $10 portion of the PacBell bill dedicated to ISP charges was obviously below their cost. It wouldn't surprise me if the copper portion was also below cost (now $30/mo)... perhaps if amortized over 20 years it looks OK.

In my eyes this kind of pricing was always designed to drive the competing DSL providers out of business. And it seems like it's worked just fine. It wouldn't be too surprising to see ILEC's raise their prices for DSL service after the others go out of business. They will (rightly) be able to cite difficulties making these price points profitable, and the PUC will likely roll out the red carpet for them... Can you imagine the uproar there would be in california if the PUC stood their ground and PacBell (as the last remaining dsl provider) threatened to turn off DSL service? Surely they'd have to go along with whatever price hikes were suggested.

It strikes me that the ILEC's may be able to benefit again by this behavior by doing like AT&T and buying equipment for a couple pennies on the dollar from their bankrupt competitors. After all, they'll need the equipment, they'll have a lot more business soon.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Hey I'm with Rythms... (2)

StarPie (411994) | more than 13 years ago | (#316549)

...and so far everything is working gre^H^H^Hj4vgj4n#######

Covad Dead? (1)

MatthewNYC (413607) | more than 13 years ago | (#316550)

Covad will almost certainly follow Northpoint into oblivion (unless the resettling of NP's customers gives them an unexpected boost. They're in a terrible financial position. From what I've heard, that's the stock market's fault but maybe not in the way you'd expect.

Apparently, Covad's stock price and ability to secure more funding were based upon the number of businesses and residences it served. With that in mind, they built a network that spanned to the burbs and further. And it worked, they got a lot of funding, funding that wanted them to keep doing it. Now they're overstretched with an enormous debt. Recently, they shut down 150 COs. More will certainly follow and their $3 or so stock price won't draw a lot of investor interest. They're still in the hole and are working furiously to get their burn rate down before their operating capital dwindles down to nada.

The LECs really had their way with Covad. First, they played the traditional "F the CLEC" game. That was fun for a while (not to mention effective). But Covad kept selling circuits so the LECs had a sitdown and decided to kill them. And out they came with their ADSL product, at about $50 ... $100 or more less than Covad. And of course their product managed to get installed a tad more quickly than Covad's did.

Re:Why don't they charge enough money to support i (1)

Phasedshift (415064) | more than 13 years ago | (#316551)

Please keep in mind that while SDSL allows you to have the same speed up and down, ADSL and RADSL offer forward error correction, which SDSL does not. In a sense, ADSL and RADSL are more reliable then SDSL, when deployed properly.

Re:This is why I opted for... (1)

Phasedshift (415064) | more than 13 years ago | (#316552)

Ok, before you say this, and while I realize that the DSL division is different from their circuit repair division... Have you ever had too call in a downed T-1 to them? I have to work with them on a daily basis.... Let me just say, start beating your head on a rock now, because it will be more painfull talking to the reps/testers. (I realize, this is dependent on the person you get, but.. 9 times out of 10 is just scarey).

Northpoint, Covad, and other CLECs providing DSL. (2)

Phasedshift (415064) | more than 13 years ago | (#316553)

Lets face it, a CLEC providing DSL is not the best thing in the world. CLECs have to resell services they purchase from the ILEC, so the ILEC will always have the lowest cost. Having DSL through an ILEC (Verizon, Pacbell, etc), wouldn't be so bad, if they A. implimented a viable commercial DSL product (AFAIK the "commercial" Bell Atlantic DSL does not come with even *1* static IP, much less a block), and B. Stopped overselling bandwidth. Not to mention, all the other problems ILEC DSL have. If Verizon hired a reputable "consultant" to go over all of Verizon's DSL services (from provisioning to service, both technical and non technical aspects), made a list of what they need to improve, I think everyone would be happier. Well, at least until fiber to the home comes around.

Re:The free market will find the equilibrium. (1)

lobsterGun (415085) | more than 13 years ago | (#316554)

> steam-ships gave way to locomotives I think you misspelled 'locomotives' its actually spelled 'airplanes' Either that or you misspelled 'steam-ships' you may have meant to spell it 'canal-boats' WOW! My Jack-Assedness astounds even me!!!
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