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Crashing And Burning In The DSL World

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the like-the-fru-its-of-the-de-vee-il dept.

The Almighty Buck 117

Aarthek writes: "As I was doing my usually daily browse I came across this story from PCWorld. After my experiences with PhoenixDSL being transfered to Telocity, and Telocity not delivering the service. I've been wondering how much longer companys like Rhythms can stay 'in the game.'" The article has a brief postmortem on DSL providers who have already dissolved and paints no rosy picture for the survivors. Low margins, high barriers -- sounds like another case of DSL Woes.

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Re:Build your own DSL links. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#257804)

The reason that PacBell started shipping USB modems has nothing to do with Windows-centricity. It's due to the fact that having technicians open the case to install a $10 ethernet card is time consuming and error prone.

Now if the PC industry would collectively get off it's ass and start treating ethernet as an essential motherboard component (as in they same way they treat serial ports), the providers would happily ship ethernet modems.

dslreports ... word of mouth.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#257805)

look, it's usually not the technology at during
the last mile, it's the ISP's peering arangements and isp's customer service.

Everyone with broadband should file a report with
www.dslreports.com so that others can weed out
the good from the bad.


your list of 5 (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#257807)

I had similar complaints w/ cable internet provider (Adelphia) and switched to DSL (Cornerstone - cstone.net). I now have great service and they provide excellent support, but because of what I hear about the rest of the resellers I worry about for them and my fast line.

Re:It's the Baby Bells stupid (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#257808)

It's all well and good to asy that big business is squashing the little guy. In many cases it's true. However, the "little guy" can also self-destruct based on its own idiocy.
No argument there - but the BBs make it hard for new companies to become profitable in a reasonable amount of time - a local ISP has considered providing DSL over Bellsouth's lines - until he found out it was going to cost him $35 per customer (leaving $5-15 a month for him depending on if he wants to compete with Bellsouth's "$39.99 a month" advertised rate or their "real" $49.99 rate - the $39 is only for certain customers on certain calling plans). In addition they dictated some very expensive equipment he must install and he must lease a new, very expensive, line back to their office. On top of all this Bellsouth has a reputation of servicing 2nd party providers last, if at all (there was a company in another fairly large city nearby that pulled out not too long ago - Bellsouth was taking 4-5 times as long to service customers who bought their internet access from this company as they did those who bought their access from bellsouth.net - even though both customers were paying Bellsouth for the lines. In addition, they had customers who were being told that "DSL service isn't available in your area" when it actually was - but Bellsouth wouldn't do the install unless they bought their internet access from Bellsouth). The BBs are a monopoly in their market - and they are going to stay that way unless there's some enforcement of the laws on the books. "Equal and fair access" isn't supposed to mean "we'll sell access at a price so jacked up that there's no way in hell you'll be able to make a profit".

Re:not all dsl was made alike (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#257809)

I am very disappointed with Verizon as a DSL providor. Their normal telephone services are fine

Oh, good God, no. Their phone people overbilled me $300 in two months. I've been trying for six months to get those charges dropped. Every month I get the bill (and overdue notices and threats that they'll shut off my long-distance service) and I call to complain. I am assured each time that "this time it's fixed." Wait 30 days, repeat.

I would rather use a 2400-baud modem than buy DSL from Verizon, given my experiences with their billing center thus far. If there were a CLEC in town from which I could buy phone service, I'd switch in a heartbeat.

Verizon is incompetent, unhelpful, and soulless. Even their telephone division.

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (2)

abischof (255) | more than 12 years ago | (#257810)

Please email me your url. Thanks :).

Alex Bischoff

There's always cable modems (2)

heroine (1220) | more than 12 years ago | (#257811)

I've never been much of a DSL fan as most slashdotters. It seems to be most popular for technical reasons other than bandwidth, like security and implementation. Cable modems while earning the despise of computer scientists have worked perfectly for me. I usually get 400 kbytes/sec downstream and 16 kbytes/sec upstream and 200kbytes/sec downstream on a bad day. It may not be the best theoretical design but it works. Unfortunately most of the digital cable buildouts of the 90's have been terminated in lieu of wireless networks. Guess the 48kbyte/sec worshippers will get their award and we'll have only screenshots of 400kbytes/sec downloads in 30 years.

Re:well gee (4)

singularity (2031) | more than 12 years ago | (#257813)

I just submitted the article to the Slashdot queue:

1) The bill is HR 1542
2) http://www.newnetworks.com/TauzinDingellisevil.htm is a site for good (biased) information.

My local ISP... (5)

singularity (2031) | more than 12 years ago | (#257814)

My local ISP, IgLou.com, has been battling BellSouth (our local Baby Bell) for several years over DSL access. It seems that the ISP (local to a few local major cities) is actually winning a few small battles.

http://www.iglou.com/dsl/victory/ is their press release concerning their victory in courth, requiring that BellSouth provide DSL access to local ISPs for the same amout that it changes its largest cutomser, Bellsouth.net.

I keep waiting for IgLou to offer DSL for reasonable rates.

Slashdotters across the country should be informed of , with its inclusion of a bill by y Representative Billy Tauzin (R-LA) allowing BabyBells to prevent local ISPs from accessing their DSL lines.

Perhaps I should have submitted this as a full story...

Re:It's the Baby Bells stupid (1)

Petra (3428) | more than 12 years ago | (#257815)

Ya know stupid people piss me off.

Texas broke off as a province from mexico, in the 1840's true. However they never seceded from the us. in fact we asked to join the union. get your facts strait, just because the mason dixon line was above TX doesn't mean that all the states south of it seceded.

Not that the troll is any better

Ahem! (2)

Zigurd (3528) | more than 12 years ago | (#257816)

The "ILEC" would be the I-for-incumbent - the one alreay there. A CLEC (C-for-competitive) would be up and coming.

And it won't be the long distance bundle that will make these guys money - that's just a start. If they can figure out how to use voice over DSL (VoDSL) to provide local service to small business and high end residential customers, then they will be in good shape. Long distance prices have gone way down since AT&T was broken up, but local costs have gone up in nominal terms and have just about kept pace with inflation. That's where the money is.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#257819)

I personally don't give a flying rats ass what the problem is within the company. What I want is better fucking service. I am not paying $33/mo for DSL and getting shit service.

When I call, email, etc I *expect* results. There is absolutely NO reason that I should have to put up w/the problems that we do. This poor ping response shit has been going on since the end of January (as have my calls). They don't do shit.

If Verizon wants to continue to compete in the market, they better do some work to improve, NOW.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#257820)

RR will be in our area once my contract w/Verizon runs out. I would rather that aggrivation than the poor service.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (5)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#257821)

too bad that the weak providors (such as Verizon) are doing the best. They are probably doing better b/c they don't have to pay people to give good support and they oversell their bandwith to the point of being crazy.

I am very disappointed with Verizon as a DSL providor. Their normal telephone services are fine and their tech support is also fine.. When you get to the DSL operations they lack in many areas:

1. knowledge
2. telling the truth
3. customer first
4. calling back
5. caring that their service blows

I have used DSL under epix.net in PA and have never had a problem. They are very helpful (even w/Linux and in fact have some Linux gurus on staff that are willing to help).

When you call in for customer service I don't expect to wait on hold for 2 hours (until the portable phone dies), I don't expect to hear "yes, we know, there is nothing planned to fix that in the near future", I don't want to hear lies "oh, no technician would have told you that", and I don't want to hear excuses. I want the service that I am paying for.

It is a sad state of affairs that in a capitalist economy the best isn't winning...

Cable? (3)

JimRay (6620) | more than 12 years ago | (#257822)

So is cable really the only viable alternative? AS a telocity DSL subscriber, I've been pretty happy with my service. But it seems to me that Cable provides a superior infrastructure to copper wiring. Until fiber runs to my home, is cable the way to go? Does anyone out there love/loath their cable service. I'm reluctant to support the aol/timwarner behemoth, but it looks like other isp's are getting into the game (earthlink will soon be providing service to all timewarner customers).

It is not DSL woes, it is the phone co.'s killing (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 12 years ago | (#257823)

them to kill competition so they can corner the market and make it a cash cow. My DSL service has bee very reliable, it is the support co. that really SUCKS. Pac-Bell does not train their employees at all as near as I can tell. 6 service calls in 2 years and ONLY 1 of the techs knew anything at all. The only good part is the connect has been VERY reliable if thru-put has been spotty.

Re:It's the Baby Bells stupid (3)

DeadFish (11364) | more than 12 years ago | (#257824)

How, exactly, is it the fault of the Baby Bells and congress that these companies built their network out too thin to be profitable?

Is it the baby bells putting a hex on these companies that makes a business model of building out twenty hardly-used COs for every profitable one not a good plan?

It's all well and good to asy that big business is squashing the little guy. In many cases it's true. However, the "little guy" can also self-destruct based on its own idiocy.

It's profitability, stupid (5)

DeadFish (11364) | more than 12 years ago | (#257825)

His beef is with DSL providers that he says care more about their bottom line than they do about customers.

Y'know, if these companies were actually paying attention to the bottom line, they might not have built out their network too wide and thin to possibly be profitable, and wouldn't be having these problems now. If anything, they weren't paying *enough* attention to the bottom line before it bit them.

As for blaming the baby bells and such, they didn't make northpoint, covad and rhythms deploy stupidly. It's not the fault of the baby bells that their numbers didn't add up. Northpoint in particular was not only poorly planned, but wildly incompetent during their best days. While the major telcos might have concievably hastened its demise, they didn't make northpoint STUPID, northpoint did that on its own. I don't blame Verizon for not wanting to buy them out after taking a look at them.

The blame also would have to go on the shoulders of bone-headed investors. Laying out a wide-scale network like this would never be profitable in anything under six years at best. After it's all built out and the market rises to fill it, then yes it could concievably be profitable, but not before then. Anyone investing in such a venture should have bothered to make themselves aware of this.

Personally, I've got some lovely DSL which is currently doing fine, and not going anywhere. I get it from a local facilities-based ISP that only builds out COs if they believe the COs to be profitable. So while it's not as wide as the coverage offered by northpoint, rhythms, covad and the like, it's at least a sane business model for stability.

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (1)

jelle (14827) | more than 12 years ago | (#257827)

I must say I was surprised at the amounts mentioned here. I can see it must be pretty hard even with $49.95 montly.

I'm not sure about the situation in the US, but in Europe often when houses are built, only one telco is allowed (by the government) to install the local loop (last mile), which gives the exising single telco in the country a virtual monopoly.

So, with a government-supplied monopoly, they would try to squeeze out competition? That's just bad, plain bad.

(I'm not sure if they overcharge that much in Europe though, and there is healthy competition between multiple DSL providers (although the telco decides in which regions DSL is available, and users often do pptp (vpn) on the telco's network and are then routed to the DSL provider of their choice, so you're packets are on the telco network for longer than just the last mile))

Re:Definitely a problem (1)

jelle (14827) | more than 12 years ago | (#257828)

"everyone wanting the same streaming video at the same time"

You're overdoing it. That is broadcasting, multicasting is a lot more selective. It doesn't have to be everybody. _Any_ number of people greater than one behind the same backbone (or from the server upstream) router will do. Even if there is a unique stream for two netizens in a particular corner of the net, then traffic to those two netizens is reduced by 50%.

And with thousands of people hitting popular spots on the net simultaneously, there is a huge potential gain.

You may think, for example, that you're the only one browsing slashdot and watching live streaming lectures from your favorite scientist, but there may be somebody in your city doing the exact same thing. If there is only one, then mutlicasting helps.

Look at it from the other side: A web server is it's popular pages, images, or files at a high rate (N times per second). And that server has only one or two upstream providers. So the exact same data packets are sent upstream only split seconds after each other. Multicasting here would save a lot of bandwidth up to the routers where the streams must split, and all the way to the web reader if they are behind the same backbone router.

The web browsing user wouldn't even notice, and no server would ever have to send the same content more than a few times per second, no matter how many hits they get.

Ok, an example: You and somebody 2 blocks away are both browsing slashdot. All the other people are doing other unique stuff. So why send all those slashdot images twice? Now replace 'images' with any imaginable content.

Re:Definitely a problem (3)

jelle (14827) | more than 12 years ago | (#257831)

In many European countries, though the telephone networks where built when the telco's were government owned _AND_ subsidized. Henze, the public paid for the network, not the company that happened to be the result of privatization.

I don't think the last mile is 100% of the difficulty with DSL. The sheer volume of traffic on the backbones as a result of people being connected at megabit speeds gives a whole slew of new problems. Suddenly the best router you can buy simply can't handle the traffic anymore... what to do now?... It simply takes time to design a large high volume TCP/IP network.

I do wonder why it is then, that we don't see more multicasting of multimedia content. Multicasting saves a huge bundle on the backbones and keeps broadband users happy. Lack of innovation from the content providers? Broadband users are not waiting for more flash plugins or flickering ads on web pages, they want the real multimedia Internet experience that was promised in promotions of the 'information superhighway'. Why isn't there a big race going on between radio stations to open shop on the Internet with streaming MP3? And how about the same for TV stations (at 640kbit and up, video often looks pretty ok) Sure, there is some streaming going on, but it does not yet seem like a revolutionary thing for what we currently know as radio and TV...

The future is... ... hmm, wait... ... hmm, wait... ... first a lawsuit, then - we promise - we will innovate... ... ...

sigh. ;-(

Screwing customers == Capitalism? (2)

SimplyCosmic (15296) | more than 12 years ago | (#257832)

Maybe it's just me, but isn't it possible to actually provide the kind of service customers can reasonably expect, while still making the same kind of profit, let alone simply not taking every opportunity to screw the customers over?

What I mean by this, is that while you won't be able to rip every last cent out of a consumer, wouldn't it be possible to attract more customers with better overall service, leading to a larger net profit?

Just because a company can exploit you, doesn't mean that they should , even under capitalist theory.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (2)

willki (20190) | more than 12 years ago | (#257833)

I Think the best thing anybody can do to prepare for DSL or any other broadband is to check out <A HREF="http://www.dslreports.com">DSLReports< /a> and read about the providers available in your area, along with the good, the bad, and the horror stories about DSL. It's very helpful, and after you have your DSL service, you can run diagnostics on it, and see where it stacks up, so you can decide if you want to change services. It was a big help for me, because when I'm home form college, I've got the option of Either roadrunner or Comcast@home along with DSL from BellSouth, so I had to find out where i'd get the best bandwidth for my money. I hope this helps some people.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (1)

Zppr (22841) | more than 12 years ago | (#257834)

Some of Verizon's territory can switch to Worldcom... Check it out: http://www.mciworld.com/for_your_home/products_ser vices/local/index.shtml

Don't foget Fredonia!!! (1)

hemp (36945) | more than 12 years ago | (#257837)

Don't forget the Fredonia Revoltof 1826 - their flag consisted of argent (white) stripe above a gules (red) stripe, a motif which was later incorporated into the Lone Star Flag.

On the argent stripe are the words Independence, Liberty, Justice.

http://www.reisenett.no/ekstern.html?url=http:// ww w.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/texas/misc/fredonia. jpg

Long Term Customers? (2)

metacosm (45796) | more than 12 years ago | (#257838)

Some customers signed up for DSL and paid an upfront fee for a year of service, what has happened to these cusomters during the DSL slump? Did they get their mony back? Hung out to dry? I would love to hear how this is affecting individuals with either "1 year minimum" or "1 year prepaid" service. Anyone unlucky enough to sign up for a 2 or 3 year deal?

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (1)

cobar (57479) | more than 12 years ago | (#257840)

Yeah, I don't see what any real advantages Verizon has there. We outsource our news to Supernews and I haven't heard any complaints from customers. From my experience, it's not bad, pretty reliable when I've used it. However, I haven't done many binary downloads, I believe our cap is somewhere around 256kbits so it may not be what you need.

One main advantage that they have is 24 hour tech support. Right now, we don't, though we have considered it.

As far as the other services go, they're all pretty inexpensive so we do them inhouse. It's really not that hard to keep a system running if you know what you're doing. A couple FreeBSD servers running qmail and a Windows NT machine from before I got there. We have our outages when something breaks but generally things are pretty good.

One thing I like about our setup is we use NAT, which no one else seems to do. It's rather nice since we can allow people to have multiple computers connected without using lots of public ips. Of course, NAT has it's own disadvantages but we charge $5 per static ip so it's not too bad.

If you want, I'll email you our url (who knows, you may have already tried us). I not posting my email address or our info because I prefer not to find somebody at Verizon getting ticked off at my comments.

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (1)

cobar (57479) | more than 12 years ago | (#257841)

I'm not surprised at all. They'll do whatever they think they can get away with that will help them make money.

They're undercutting us by paying for Verizon the ISP's losses with Verizon the telco's profits. Since the ISP and telco are actually two separate companies on paper (Verizon Communications is a parent company of Verizon Internet Services), AFAIK they aren't supposed to share money back and forth. I have little legal knowledge, so I could be totally wrong on this and if I am my whole argument is meritless.

If I am correct, I have no way of knowing whether they are doing that, but if they aren't Verizon Internet can't be making any money. Bandwidth/admins/other costs aren't cheap enough they are able to make it on $7.50 net income. There's no way they could afford to do that for more than a few months.

I'm not suggesting they should offer us some advantage, but rather play by essentially the same rules that we have to. They charge everyone $32.50 as a "line charge", fine, then expect everyone to compete on the ISP charge portion. Don't send have the telco Verizon Internet a check every month to make up for losses.

One of the primary problems is that there is a flat rate for line charges. If Congress removed the tariff that dictates the $32.50 price, then broadband might be a lot cheaper right now. (Under the terms of the tariff, the price for ISPs with over 500,000 subscribers goes down - so it is possible that Verizon Internet is doing this, it's just damn hard to figure out what's going on).

Why small ISPs don't make it (5)

cobar (57479) | more than 12 years ago | (#257842)

I work as a sysadmin for a small isp in SoCal and one thing that's makes it really hard for us to get by is some of the ways in which GTE/Verizon and PacBell try and squeeze out the little guys.

For example, Verizon is dictated by law that they must charge $32.50 for the DSL line (not including ISP service). That was fine when they charged a total of $49.50 for a complete package. But in order to remove competitors, they have lowered their prices to $39.99, causing their ISP division to take a loss presumably, while they pay for it with profits from the telephone division. This makes quite hard for ISPs using Verizon to supply the physical link to make it on such a small margin.

PacBell used these tactics as well and has virtually eliminated all the competition in their areas. They set their price at $39.95 and once they had most of the market, they raised it back to $49.95. This only works when they have large cash reserves or can abuse their relationship with the telco to fund price cutting with the DSL line profits

Traditionally, Verizon offered free modems to all customers who signed up for a 1 year contract with any ISP. They've since stopped that offer as well and made it so that only their customers get the modem, while ours must pay $200. Gee, which company will the customers sign up with.

This sort of crap makes it really hard to make a profit or even stay in business. We've managed to stay alive, but a lot of other ISPs in our area have gone under. From what I've heard Verizon doesn't have particularly good service, they just win through anti-competive behavior and ISPs can't afford to sue and don't have the market share to make them compromise. Definitely bad for the consumer and us as well. Hopefully, Verizon will decide they have enough of the market and raise their prices back, allowing us to make a bit more money.

Re:The DSL Era Is Nearly Over (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 12 years ago | (#257843)

Back when I was with Charter Communications in metro Atlanta (about 2 years ago), I was the first in the neighborhood to sign up. I was getting 1.5/256 solid, with static IP. Within the space of 4 months, average bandwidth plummeted to about 30 kb/s, about 60% of what I got with dialup.

That persisted for several months until Charter added more connectivity between the headend and their provider.

Note that the degradation of bandwidth isn't limited to cable -- I've been with Telocity DSL for 14 months, and average bandwidth has decreased by something in the area of 50%, mostly due to saturation of Telocity's network and significant routing screwups on the part of Telocity and Level3, their backbone provider.

Re:yowza (1)

dhogaza (64507) | more than 12 years ago | (#257844)

Huh ... I live in Portland, too, and have had Qwest DSL for about two years. I had no problem signing up to use my ISP (Pacifier), just filled in the form on the web page.

Of course things may've changed in the past two years. They stopped handing out Cisco 675's like candy, that's for sure (a friend ended up by two, they couldn't figure out how to set up a return even though he called them about it).

I had some problems the first winter, but I'm 17500 yards from the CO and my decibel level had dropped far below their qualification cutoff. They upgraded equipment in the CO before the next winter came along and I've had no problems since. Been down once in the last 15 months or so, for a couple of hours.

For $29.95 a month and no need for a second phone line (I work out of my home) I'm not complaining. 640 kbs down and 256 kbs up, good enough for my needs.

not all dsl was made alike (5)

The-Pheon (65392) | more than 12 years ago | (#257846)

I recently (last week) was hit by the dsl bomb as well. Our company had a 1.2 sdsl from @link (atlinknetworks [dslnet.com] ) which stopped working last wednesday as can be seen on fuckedcompany [fuckedcompany.com] . Luckily with the help of nortel service was restored at least until May 31.

Unlike the woes i have heard from many other dsl users, @link actually had an incredible amount of reliability (one 15 minute outage in 2 years!) and great tech support. It is sad to see even the good providers crash and burn before they can get off the ground.

The DSL Era Is Nearly Over (4)

bruns (75399) | more than 12 years ago | (#257848)

As the topic says, the DSL era is over. Its an illfated technology that isn't going to last. Primary reason for this is because of the big Bells, like Verizon, who want to control the DSL market.

The only companies that are going to survive are the ones who not only do DSL, but also Ts, dialups, webhosting, etc (ie: have some other source of profit).

Now cable, thats a totally different story. I thought Cable would be the one to go under, but its a superior technology and seems to scale very well to a large amount of customers. Why spend 100+ a month to get 1mbit when you can get 3+ mbit for 40 bucks a month?

Though I can only see cable working really well in a consumer environment. DSL is better suited for businesses and offers more functionality (everything a T1 offers but with reduced stability).

But then again, look how many providers are going under today in general. Maybe T1s aren't so safe anymore.

Re:Cable? (1)

pupstah (78267) | more than 12 years ago | (#257849)

I've had Telocity for quite some time now, and have no complaints about it. I know in other markets, and even across town, other customers have had both similar and different experiences. If I had to do it over, i'd pick telocity again. Static IP, freedom to run any OS and and service as I please, I can't go wrong. Speed and uptime haven't been problems for me either. It's unfortunate that we can't expect a certain level of service from a company, nationwide. But for now, we must spend the extra time to order, wait, test and switch/spend if needed. I've found the same true of most cable modem services too. I guess we'll al just wait for fiber, but you know there will be problems there too. Sad.

-- pupkick

Re:not all dsl was made alike (5)

d0d63 (81791) | more than 12 years ago | (#257850)

I used to get 24x7 ISDN service from Bell Atlantic which cost about $275 per month. After my CAIS/Covad DSL line came up (97 days late because BA failed to configure the first switch from the CO to my house correctly) I killed the ISDN line. The next month the bill arrived and since I'd cancelled service on the billing date I paid it. The month after, I got another bill and called to complain; they said "ignore it", so I did.

The month after that I got another bill which included late payment fees for the preceeding month. I called to complain; they said "ignore it", so I did.

The month after that I got another bill which included late payment fees for the preceeding months. I called to complain; they said "ignore it", so I sent a letter to the President of Bell Atlantic asking what the hell was going on. I got no response.

The month after that I got another bill which included late payment fees for the preceeding months. I called to complain; they said "ignore it". I bitched without success, escalated the call to the highest level I could to no avail other than "ignore it". So I wrote a letter to the State Corporation Commission explaining that I felt I was being singled out for bad service (remember 97 day delay plus dumbass charges) because I was going with another provider.

Within three days some suckup from BA was on the phone to me apologizing out her ass.

The point here is this: Complain to the bureaucrats. That's what they're there for. These PITA .gov employees don't have to work only against you, they can also work against those who are screwing with you. Use them.

Wireless "DSL" (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#257851)

There's an interesting company in my area.


They don't have to bend over and take it up the ass from the telcos like the DSL providers do. If covad crashes and burns, I'll have to see if they can hook me up to speakeasy.

Re:Cable? (2)

frankie (91710) | more than 12 years ago | (#257853)

Until fiber runs to my home, is cable the way to go?

Short answer: yes, if you can live with (or sneak around) the restrictions.

Long answer: I use Comcast@Home, and in general I'm satisfied. It downloads faster than my office network, tech support is reasonably intelligent, willing to admit when fuckups are their fault, and telephone hold times are short. Setup was easy.

Now the down sides: upload is only a little faster than POTS [acronymfinder.com] . Service goes down about once a month for several hours. The included web space [home.net] is dog slow. They want to charge extra if you have multiple computers -- using a router with NAT is grounds for cutoff. You aren't allowed to run a server of any kind or access VPNs -- you're supposed to buy the identical but higher priced Comcast@Work for that.

still looking for a new DSL provider... (2)

jeffsenter (95083) | more than 12 years ago | (#257854)

ispmenu.com [ispmenu.com] allows you to check and compare business and residential DSL services available at your address/phone. [/plug] There are still options other than the BabyBells out there.

Re:Screwing customers == Capitalism? (2)

marx (113442) | more than 12 years ago | (#257856)

Just because a company can exploit you, doesn't mean that they should, even under capitalist theory.

It doesn't really matter what companies should and should not do. Say we have two companies A and B. A plays nice, while B plays not so nice. If B becomes more profitable as a consequence of this, it will attract the investors, and eventually A will die. Just think, you have $1000 to invest in stocks. You can choose between A, which is expected to grow 10%, or B, which is expected to grow 100%, which do you choose? It's very simple. This is why pure capitalism doesn't work so well in practice, not only are the dirty companies more successful, but not being dirty means you don't survive, so the dreams of all those honest, hard-working, companies fighting to improve the life of consumers is just bogus. Also, just like humans, companies can change the rules, so if a company can become profitable by lobbying for law changes, then B wins and A loses again, but in addition, we have crappier laws.

It's the Baby Bells stupid (2)

Kwelstr (114389) | more than 12 years ago | (#257858)

DSL companies cannot survive thanks to Congress, that gave the Baby Bells a virtual monopoly and it's not enforcing the laws for equal access.

While the most influencial companies keep getting bigger and killing off the competition with the support of OUR elected officials, we, the users are the ones paying the price.

Re:yowza (4)

rhizome (115711) | more than 12 years ago | (#257859)

> Does the word "duh" mean anything to you? Welcome to capitalism, Mr. Nathans. It seems the only thing one can do is to do the same old capitalistic thing: vote with your dollars. The ILEC-DSL companies are fooling everyone into catering to the lowest common denominator but those who buy into the bargain-hunter trap are going to get bargain-quality. Not only that, but they're also taking away market-share from the independent providers. Certainly the financial profile of the readers here is such that they could pay higher prices for the same bandwidth, so instead of railing against the system we all could pay what we already know the value of these services is. The suspicion (with some evidence, natch) is that the prices will go up anyway once the competition is eliminated, so putting yourself ahead of the game by paying those prices to an independent provider can help their margins and stave off the big guys. Will it work? I don't know, but just going straight to the big guys so you can pay as little as possible is going to get you what you're paying for: as little as possible.

Managing expansion and the new economy (3)

Kagato (116051) | more than 12 years ago | (#257860)

Basically, it's not that every one of these DLECs and CLECs were dumb, but they didn't see see the dot com downturn. It's natural for there to be some weeding out of the sick and the lame in this type of venture. However, investors are scared off from these ventures at the moment. For various reasons, some good, some bad. Given a couple more years of a good stock market two or three DSL provides would have emerged.

The plus side of all of this is it hits MSN right were it hurts. Those who have seen MSNs latest deal with QWEST for residential DSL can see they are scambling for a good broad band solution. And with QWEST they only get 14 solid states.

The down side is it gives AOL a natural advantage being relating to Time Warner. Really I don't want to see either company do well because my opinion is they both just plain suck.

Now, in defense of Northpoints, Covads, etc, they burned huge ammounts of money up by co-locating in the ILEC's CO. I've worked for an ILEC, let me tell you, the ILEC screws up all the time. It's nothing devious, it's not like they are trying to screw NorthPoint or Covad. There are just too many issues: training, facilities, moral, etc, that play into things not getting to test and turn up when the CLEC asked for it.

And basically, because the CLEC is the one talking to the customer, they are the ones having to pay $$$ for customer satisfaction.

So, shame on the ILEC for being a dumb ass, but shame on the CLEC for not managing expantion better.

Re:Definitely a problem (2)

kilrogg (119108) | more than 12 years ago | (#257861)

Well, from the telco perspective, they invented a technology (DSL) that allows them to make additional profit from copper networks that *they* built at great expense over the last 80 years. The fact that 3rd parties can get a cut off this network is more of a regulatory miricle than anything else.

But during those 80 years the imcumbents had a government backed monopoly (at least here in canada, so it was a "Public" network. The recent shift in policy tried to undo this but seems to have failed. The consumers funded the creation of the monopoly network, so we should be able to have the choice of an alternate carrier.

I also think the last kilometre (or "mile") are now belongs to the customer (can anyone confirm?), the imcubents are supposed to allow free access to the lines for servicing. The CLECs can either re-route to their own facilities, or lease space from the ILECs at a "fair" rate.

well gee (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 12 years ago | (#257862)

how about giving us the number of the bill so we can complain specifically against it? pleeeeeeeeeeease?

ICQ 77863057

Re:yowza (1)

legLess (127550) | more than 12 years ago | (#257863)

Wow - you seem pretty sensitive about this, 'specially since it was sarcasm. But hey, I've got enough time to pester you.

Old, incredibly tired class-warfare bullshit.
  • Old = "started before I was born so I can't be bothered"
  • tired = "my attention span's too short"
  • bullshit = "I don't agree with you"

Preach your shit when you manage to come up with something that actually works better than capitalism.
  • Preach your shit = "I don't agree with you"
  • when you manage to come up with something that actually works better than capitalism = "if you can't single-handedly solve the most vexing problem in human history you're disqualified from commenting on it."
HTH :)

question: is control controlled by its need to control?
answer: yes

yowza (5)

legLess (127550) | more than 12 years ago | (#257864)

Ok, I even call myself a bleeding-heart liberal, but I try not to be a fool. Like this schmuck. From the story:
"DSL providers, the NorthPoints, the Covads, the Rhythms, they don't care about the customer. All they care about is the numbers on Wall Street," Nathans said.
Does the word "duh" mean anything to you? Welcome to capitalism, Mr. Nathans. Tomorrow, the shocking true story of corporate executives exploiting their workers to get filthy rich!

All sarcasm aside, there are some people laughing all the way to the bank here: the Baby Bells, the "last-mile" providers. In Portland it's QWest, and they don't exactly make it easy for little ISPs to sign up DSL customers. Especially since they have their own competing service, and a guaranteed revenue stream from existing customers to prop up any DSL losses.

question: is control controlled by its need to control?
answer: yes

Whee! (1)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 12 years ago | (#257865)

I don't know anything about DSL - I'm a cable kinda guy myself - but I just wanted to make a comment because the title of this article suspiciously resembles my slashdot user name. Imagine the improbabilities of that!

Fences? (2)

Dahan (130247) | more than 12 years ago | (#257866)

For a DSL provider to offer service, it must "collocate," or place its equipment near the networking gear of the local phone company at a central office service facility--a challenging venture.

"There are literally cyclone fences, with locks on them," said Steve Haggarty, vice president for local broadband services at Qwest.

Yeah, I bet that's why Northpoint went under... their techs kept getting arrested when the cops caught 'em cutting the locks and climbing the fence at night to install their DSLAMs.

Re:The DSL Era Is Nearly Over (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 12 years ago | (#257867)

Actually, I live on a block (well, when I am at home, not at college) that seems pretty saturated with cable modems (from AT&T @home). I guess I don't really know if that is the case, but service has been avaliable for a few years now, I know of at least 6 other people on my block who have service, and the technicians that came by when we accidently cut our cable line (gardening accident ;)) indiciated that there are quite a few users in my area (we started as the third household to get it). Overall, as much as I have heard horrible things about AT&T, I am really rather happy with it (happy enough to get cable service from @home at college as well). Just my 2 cents

Re:Definitely a problem (2)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 12 years ago | (#257868)

Multicasting saves a huge bundle on the backbones and keeps broadband users happy

How is multicasting the future? OK, the way I understand multicasting it is... suppose everyone in my area (could be a neighborhood, office building, etc) wants to watch the same streaming video over the 'net. Rather than all 100 of us streaming copies of the same exact data from the live rock concert in Uruguay (or whatever the video is), we use multicasting... so the provider streams only ONE copy of the data, and a switch way way way downstream multiplexes the data out to multiple users. Thus saving a ton of bandwidth and server resources.

Um, that sounds really good, but it kinda relies on everyone wanting the same streaming video at the same time. So in that case, how is watching the video over the 'net any cooler than watching it on TV? Part of the coolness of getting... well, anything off of the net is being able to get it when you want it. I'm not sure how multicasting could work without totally defeating the purpose of the 'net.

Probably the way to go is local, mirrored servers (with the mirroring transparent to the user), like Akamai is doing. Dunno if they're making any money or not, but this seems like the way to go as far as saving bandwidth, improving access time, and still retaining the "give me my data when I want it"-ness of the net.

If there's a place for multicasting, it's probably in the online gaming world, somewhere way down the road (since in this case everyone HAS to have the same data at the same time, in order to keep the game world consistent). Although... setting up game servers would then be quite a technical challenge... part of the success of online gaming is that anybody with a sweet connection can set up their own Quake/Tribes/Unreal server....

http://www.bootyproject.org [bootyproject.org]

Re:Definitely a problem (2)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 12 years ago | (#257869)

Ok, an example: You and somebody 2 blocks away are both browsing slashdot. All the other people are doing other unique stuff. So why send all those slashdot images twice? Now replace 'images' with any imaginable content.

But the odds of two people, even in a large area, requesting a piece of data at the exact same time are infinitely small. Sure, the same image might be requested a lot...say, several times per minute... maybe even many times a minute. And even if they were requested at the same time... at a low level, even the fastest routers process packets serially (they just do it very fast) so it still doesn't look simultaneous to the router from a programmer's perspective. So, we have two design possiblities for our MMR(tm) requesting the same piece of data twice to avoid wasting bandwidth....
  1. Cache data. Of course, for a cache to be useful, we'd have to cache a lot of data, and keep it for a while. Well... now we basically have a proxy server. As a web designer, lemme tell ya... they cause nothing but a pain in the ass. Proxy servers screw up the web servers' usage stat log (which is the basis by which many websites make money, through ad impressions) and the prozy server's cache often gets stale. A good example of proxy servers making everyone's life hell would be AOL's proxy servers. This raises issues similar to the reasons why Slashdot doesn't cache linked pages locally (see the FAQ)
  2. If you don't want to cache data, then I guess we have to cache requests. The MMR could hold onto each user's request for, say, X seconds and weed out the dupe requests. Problem is, unless you have an incredible number of simultaneous requests, the odds of a dupe request is incredibly tiny, mathematically speaking. Also, this would obviously add a disgusting amount of latency to the user's experience
So you can see, multicasting sounds good in theory but how can you make it work, practically? This is what I mean when I say it's only good for "live" content. It could be good for games. I guess it could be good for live webcasts too, but... like I say before, part of the coolness is getting stuff WHEN you want it. If you have to watch it at the same time as someone else then it's like TV.

For any other type of content, it really doesn't work (well, I suppose AOL's proxy servers and other proxy servers "work" but they basically still suck).
http://www.bootyproject.org [bootyproject.org]

Yes, I have seen that with cable (1)

OpenGL (158318) | more than 12 years ago | (#257871)

I had ATT@Home last year. When I started with it it was very fast. Over the next several months the speed dropped, not to below dialup or anything like that, but it was obvious that the speed would do nothing but drop. That and the constant disruptions in service led me to get DSL. Technically, I get less bandwith than I did with cable, but the connection is rock solid, and I can run servers on it.

Re:Screwing customers == Capitalism? (1)

nycdewd (160297) | more than 12 years ago | (#257872)

i mean, come on... "should" they exploit the consumer? no... but it is all but apparent to even the most dull consumers that most of the time companies DO exploit you, they take the goddamn money and run... in the best of all possible worlds we'd all see the best companies rise to the top, it just so happens that there is no such thing as "the best of all possible worlds" and that is why, for example, a slimeball outfit like Microsoft rules the roost and Verizon gets larger every goddamn day

Re:The DSL Era Is Nearly Over (1)

nycdewd (160297) | more than 12 years ago | (#257873)

DSL era over? er, not! DSL will survive, and you contradict yourself in your post in that you say DSL is over then in the next sentence decry the fact that a behemoth like Verizon wants to control the DSL market... Why would Verizon bother to control a dying market? surely they are more savvy than that (as much as i despise them, i must give the goddamned devil his due). further, you go on to state that the only DSL providers that will survive are the ones with horizontally-integrated market penetration, so DSL era is dead eh? not a chance.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (1)

eltardo (160932) | more than 12 years ago | (#257874)

I can tell you this much since I work for Verizon, the biggest problem with their DSL is the lack of communication within the company. With all the regulations, lack of planning on Verizon's part to make sure regulations didn't get in the way and plain stupidity on managements part, it's made for a complete cluster-fuck since the merger between GTE and BA. Before that there weren't many problems that couldn't be fixed, the main deterrent was the gimp on the other end of the phone, now the biggest deterrent (besides the gimp and PPPOE) is the fact that there was so little planning done to make sure everything was going to be ok after the merger. They're just now starting to straighten things out so, if you have Verizon DSL there is some light at the end of the tunnel but don't put any money on everything being fine and dandy, this is Verizon we're speaking about. Something is bound to go wrong somewhere. Good Luck.

Word to the big bird.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (1)

eltardo (160932) | more than 12 years ago | (#257875)

If you want better service, go elsewhere, if you can. I can tell you now that it's not going to get better anytime soon. I get shitty service from the company and I'm an employee, I couldn't imagine putting up with the shit Verizon customers do.

At least you don't live in Ireland... (2)

jm91509 (161085) | more than 12 years ago | (#257876)

Sadly the best that we have over here is ISDN. Currently it is not possible to get any kind of unmetered access. *DSL or cable is in the distant future (6-12 months).

Its depressing to read of horror stories where ppl were forced to change providers and go down to 512KB cause a provider went bust.

At least you have adsl...


Re:Cable? (2)

IronChef (164482) | more than 12 years ago | (#257877)

I have @Home as well, and here in Seattle the terms of service are a little different. They explicity told me that they did not care about running multiple computers via NAT.

Cable broadband providers seem to have very different policies across their own networks. For example, in los angeles MediaOne cable can't provide you with a fixed IP or multiple email accounts -- which they can do in most other places. Go figure.

Re:Cable? (1)

Beowulfto (169354) | more than 12 years ago | (#257878)

I would say yes! If possible, go with a local company. I am sure that my situation is unique, but a local company has run cable around my whole area and is now providing telephone service, Cable modems, and digital cable TV. I am paying $100/month for everything. The service is pretty good, (they are busy laying new cable), and the speeds are incredible.

Re:I still don't get it (2)

Some Dumbass... (192298) | more than 12 years ago | (#257879)

ATT and it's siblings spent decades and billions of $$$ building their networks. Along comes DSL and some new start up's and now the Baby Bells are supposed to give up their networks to new competitors whose long term aim is to put them out of business. Does anybody here want to spend a few decades building a software or consulting business only to have to open it up to a new competitor?

Yeah! And for that matter, why should there be so many providers for long distance? We demand no choice, and we want it now! Let one company (per region) control all aspects of telecommunications! And while we're at it, let's allow those Baby Bells to battle each other over how to allow access to each other's networks. Don't let Bell South have access to Verizon's network! We want to be unable to call Atlanta from Los Angeles, and we want it now!

While we're on the subject, since the Internet developed out of ARPANET, the military should own the Internet, right? We want military control of the internet, and we want it now! (Or was the research which led to the Internet funded by taxpayer money and intended to benefit the average citizen?)

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 12 years ago | (#257880)

Are you somehow surprised at this? It is their network you are putting your customers on. Why should they just let you come in and undercut their offer when you are using their equipment and lines to do it?

Sure, they have a distinct advantage in the fact that they have cable running to every home. Sure, Congress made attempts to aid competition. However, you should not expect them to just hand you cake.

The dot com bust spread to hardware (5)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 12 years ago | (#257882)

This is just an extension of the idiocy seen in the dot-com 'new economy' spread to consumer services. They didn't know how to run a business, and didn't give a thought to figuring out how fast they could become profitable. Anyhow, their folly will be a boon to the companies that buy their equipment at dirt cheap prices (like AT&T), because you'll have blue chip companies that can not only take a loss, but know how to turn a profit, providing DSL service. Don't discount DSL just yet. Just think of these failed companies as the telecom version of pets.com.

Re:Definitely a problem (2)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#257883)

The reason (in the US at least) that the Bells are required to give line access to DSL providers is because of the prohibitively expensive "right of way" costs to actually build said competative network.

This certainly wouldn't "help" companies that are already burning cash too quickly.

DSL instead cable... (1)

TooTallFourThinking (206334) | more than 12 years ago | (#257884)

I choose DSL over cable modems was because I wanted a static IP address. When I was looking into DSL and cable last year, no cable companies in my area offered static IP addresses. Cable is cheap and fast but DSL had what I wanted.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and if any other technology is going to emerge.

Re:The DSL Era Is Nearly Over (2)

vistas (214241) | more than 12 years ago | (#257885)

The thing I always hear against cable is that, once everyone on your block (or in your apt. building) gets connected and starts using the thing, then your connection speeds are going to plummet. Has anyone with cable gotten to this point yet? For about five months now I've been enjoying a relatively stable 1.2mbps DSL line (down for a few minutes every few days). I dropped cable for DirecTV months ago cause I hated MediaOne about as much as you guys hate Microsoft. I had intended to go with DirecPC Dual or Starband or similar technology, but the DSL deal was too good to pass up, and besides, my apts have a 18"-only limit on satellite dishes.

Re:Definitely a problem (1)

Da Web Guru (215458) | more than 12 years ago | (#257886)

Multicasting here would save a lot of bandwidth up to the routers where the streams must split, and all the way to the web reader if they are behind the same backbone router.


Ok, an example: You and somebody 2 blocks away are both browsing slashdot. All the other people are doing other unique stuff. So why send all those slashdot images twice? Now replace 'images' with any imaginable content.

Okay... and you are assuming that me and my neighbor are using the same ISP... Try again. If I am using cable Internet, my neighbor has DSL with one provider, and my other neighbor as DSL with another provider, how is multicasting going to help? The closest place (in number of hops) that we are connected may be as far away as DC, LA, NY or Chicago. In most cases the streams will still have to split a good distance from the end users, which will not supply the enormous amount of relief you speak of. Internet topology oftentimes has little to do with physical geography.

I still don't get it (4)

alen (225700) | more than 12 years ago | (#257888)

ATT and it's siblings spent decades and billions of $$$ building their networks. Along comes DSL and some new start up's and now the Baby Bells are supposed to give up their networks to new competitors whose long term aim is to put them out of business. Does anybody here want to spend a few decades building a software or consulting business only to have to open it up to a new competitor? Besides, I think the current crop of DSL companies are doomed to failure. Their business plan pretty much revolves around whining and crying until the Baby Bells do what they say. I think the future competitors are the few telco's who have spent billions laying their own lines and are growing at a decent rate every year. The current crop thought they could get rich because they had a right to use the Baby Bells' lines and somehow most of those who could switch to DSL would. Kind of like the .com's.

Bottom Line on DSL Providing (4)

Fatal0E (230910) | more than 12 years ago | (#257889)

...thats what most of them are charging because they can't make money off it. I'm serious! I know a guy who works for a regional up-and-coming ilec. He told me that they don't sell dsl service alone, you have to also 'subscribe' to their highly competitive long distance service which happens to be the voip service which is on the same fddi ring as their as their internet service. I didn't even realize how easily they can be packaged together until he told me that. As a service it's bareable but in a package could sweeten a deal.

Re:Why small ISPs CAN make it (2)

disc-chord (232893) | more than 12 years ago | (#257890)

I work at a small ISP in New England and while things have no always been rosy, we are commited to our company and customers and we have faired far better than many larger DSL providers. Vitts has been given permission to close it's doors on May 9th. Why is Vitts, a large well funded company, going out of business while our un-funded little ISP is still going? Because we don't try to offer customers things we can't afford.

Please keep in mind this is apples and oranges to your situation in SoCal. We do not do consumer DSL, we focus entirely on business solutions.

We find that people understand that we can't give away $500 sDSL modems, and respect our honest approach. If we were giving away modems, we'd be out of business with Vitts by now. So while it is more costly to them to get set up with us, it is much nicer to have a fiscally responsable ISP and not one that is spending madly to get customers.

-shameless plug- www.rhinonetworks.com [rhinonetworks.com]

DISCLAIMER:I am just the art guy. My opinion, spelling or gramatical error(s)do not reflect those of the company management ;)

Re:Cable? (2)

spoocr (237489) | more than 12 years ago | (#257891)

I'm on cable, and love it. We recently moved, and don't get outages anymore (Something wrong with out old neighborhood hub), which is a huge plus. Speeds are really fast, even during peak times - I typically get about 100-120 kbps (That's bytes, not bits) downstream. I've maxed out at about 280 kbps. On peak times, I typically get about 80-100kbps, which is still plenty fast to play UT. Customer service (Cox@Home) sucks, but as long as you don't need anyone to tell you how to config your computer for DHCP, you're fine. I'd recommend it.

-- Chris

Re:Cable? (2)

spoocr (237489) | more than 12 years ago | (#257892)

Same restrictions apply here, but it's simple enough to get around them. I've set up one box as a proxy server/firewall for the rest of the network, and run 4 other computers with cable access through that. Sure, it's against the TOS, but how are they gonna know without actually physically being there? When they hafta come fix something, that second cable in the back of my proxy magically disappears. Bandwidth isn't much of an issue, either apparently. I pulled down 2 GB of Linux ISOs the other day, and it didn't seem to bother them one bit.

-- Chris

Broadband (5)

spoocr (237489) | more than 12 years ago | (#257893)

Seems like these DSL providers going out of business may be one of the forces driving the popularity of cable. People get hooked on broadband, then eventually switch to cable, as cable is typically run by companies that aren't going out of business soon, and there's no way that someone who's used broadband is going back to dialup.

I'm on Cox@Home, and while their customer service has a tendancy towards suckage, and we get a few hour outage every 4 months or so due to "hub upgrades", it's reliable and fast the rest of the time. I've looked into DSL, but there's really few reasons to switch at this point, seeing as we can be at least relatively sure of the cable service always being there. DSL may be faster during peak times or in neighborhoods where there's a large amount of cable users, but it's not as solid from a business standpoint.

Maybe if a few big companies (Like a Baby Bell?) were providing access, people'd be more inclined towards it.

-- Chris

Ah come on guys... (5)

litheum (242650) | more than 12 years ago | (#257894)

...just go to college, live in the dorm, and you don't have to worry about it anymore! I get ethernet, cable, telephone, utilities, maid, Lake Washington, the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and *food* for less than you cheeses pay to live in a box for a month.

I'm planning on staying in college for a while... there are a bunch of professional degrees, right? Collect 'em all!

Re:Broadband (1)

Newander (255463) | more than 12 years ago | (#257896)

Maybe if a few big companies (Like a Baby Bell?) were providing access, people'd be more inclined towards it.

Not sure about in your area, but here in the midwest Qwest(USWest) provides DSL in most areas.

Re:Cable? (1)

DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#257897)

I'm on something@home and I get pretty good upload (32k/s max). Since I moved in (4 months) I've uploaded 88,841,174,004 bytes from my ftp server on port 21... so you can do well sometimes...

Relying on your competitor = business suicide (1)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 12 years ago | (#257898)

OK, does anyone see a flawed business model here? All these DSL guys rely on the telco's last mile copper wire. Those very same telco's are also selling their own DSL. Do you think those telcos are going to make it easy??? That's like RedHat having to use Microsoft's CD pressing plant to distribute their product. Would anyone with half a brain start and operate a business like that? -ted

Doh! (1)

abumarie (306669) | more than 12 years ago | (#257900)

The business plans of most DSL services would rival Netpinace in their stupidity. They usually ran: 1) First buy bulk access from the telephone compnaies, 2) Have the telephone companies do the hardware install and local loop stuff and 3) Make lotsa money. Needless to say, there was not a lot of value add in this sort of biz plan and they set themselves up to be squeezed by the telcos from the getgo. Unless your DSL is run by your local telco, I am afraid the stars are not in your favor going forward.

Big vs Small (b/c of Big) (4)

Peridriga (308995) | more than 12 years ago | (#257901)

The future of DSL providers for end-users is going the same way as the Bell's... (obviously)
Any of these small DSL providers are getting their backbones from the Big companies that either
a) Supply the large DSL companies as well
b) Will offer their own DSL service in the future
So essentially once all of these companies reach a point where their debt load (Covad = $1.3billion in debt) is too much to deal with and will sell to a larger company... It's the same pattern over and over again... Eventually it will be to the point where the bells are currently at... Government forced deregulation, which in the end never works out in the way that it was supposed to and the big bell's will simply repurchase all of the little spawned companies and the cycle begins again....

--- My Karma is bigger than your...
------ This sentence no verb

Definitely a problem (5)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 12 years ago | (#257902)

Probably one of the biggest issues with DSL is that these companies can't establish their *own* networks. Instead, they have to rely on the bigger telcos to provide the connectivity, and of course that brings all kinds of charges plus the traditional waiting game.

At least that's the issue in Canada right now. There's a few DSL providers out there, but really Sympatico is just about the only viable one. Why? Because Bell Canada owns the network, and they own Sympatico. Other providers have to pay Bell fees to use the phone lines, to get everything set up, and finally they have to wait because Bell is the only company that can service the line if something goes wrong.

Looks like the cards are stacked. Margins are low because they have to compete with Sympatico, who uses the network already in place. Installation can take months because Bell puts priority on their customers over another provider's.

Personally, I'm using Cable (via Rogers@Home, though my usership was recently purchased from Shaw through a geographic trade in service areas). Even a bigger monopoly in this case - there is only one choice.

The third option, Look [www.look.ca] (I think they operate by Microwave or something, it's wireless) unfortunately isn't accepting any new customers until they sort their financial problems out.

Re:I still don't get it (3)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 12 years ago | (#257905)

ATT and it's siblings spent decades and billions of $$$ building their networks.

They spent decades as a government-sponsored monopoly. Government regulators defined their business plans and set their revenues to ensure a reasonable profit. They were not taking any risks building this infrastructure. They didn't "earn" the value of these assets the way a real entrepreneur would.

In a way, these phone companies don't deserve to own or control their infrastructure any more than anybody else, since they were only acting as agents implementing a government directed phone system.

Re:Cable? (3)

s20451 (410424) | more than 12 years ago | (#257906)

In Canada, the effectiveness of cable depends on the company providing it. The Rogers@Home [shoprogers.com] service is a mess, from all user accounts - slower than dialup at peak times. Other providers are doing reasonably well. Personally, I use the competing ADSL service, which I have found to be reliable.

My concern with cable is privacy. Essentially the network is structured as a LAN which you share, unsecured, with all your neighbors. Nobody has been talking about encryption or privacy for these systems, and it wouldn't be too hard in principle to spy on the packets flying through the system. The story goes that when the system was first introduced, if you were using Windows you could see all your neighbors' shared directories on your Network Neighborhood.

Re:It's the Baby Bells stupid (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 12 years ago | (#257907)

"However they never seceded from the us."

According to history, the Texas legislature put forward an ordinance of secession on 1 February 1861, where it passed by a vote of 166 to 8. It was then put before the voters, where it again won 46,153 to 14,747 on 23 February 1861. It became official in March of 1861, when they also opted to join the Confederacy.

This information is available here [utexas.edu] , where it is maintained by the Texas State Historical Association and hosted by the University of Texas.

"get your facts strait, just because the mason dixon line was above TX doesn't mean that all the states south of it seceded."

There were 3 states wholly below the Mason-Dixon line that did not secede. Kentucky essentially sat on the fence for several years, Maryland's legislature and the Port of Baltimore were essentially held hostage, and Kansas was admitted into the union as a free state 29 January 1861, just over a month after South Carolina left. None of these three was Texas.

"Ya know stupid people piss me off."

Need any help getting that foot out of your mouth? :)

Re:It's the Baby Bells stupid (5)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 12 years ago | (#257908)

Yes, I know I'm responding to a troll.

"For all I care Texas should secede already and make their own country."

IIRC, they tried that twice already. The first time was from Mexico in the 1840's (they succeeded), and the second was from the US in the 1860's (they failed).

"I imagine it will be an ARIAN nation of sorts"

That would be interesting to see, considering the way their former governor has a latina for a wife.

"and maybe we could even get rid of the asshole Bush that way too, as a bonus."

Oh, come now. It's also been the home of great Democrat presidents as well, like Johnson.

Re:The dot com bust spread to hardware (5)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 12 years ago | (#257909)

"They didn't know how to run a business, and didn't give a thought to figuring out how fast they could become profitable."

That may be part of the problem, but it wouldn't be quite as bad if they weren't dependent upon their competitors for part of their infrastructure. That right there is asking for trouble.

"companies that buy their equipment at dirt cheap prices (like AT&T)"

If my experiences with AT&T's WorldNet is indicative of what AT&T is doing with that cheap hardware, they aren't even getting what they paid for.

"chip companies that can not only take a loss, but know how to turn a profit"

Blue chips and other big names can make dumb business mistakes as easily as newcomers. AT&T originally scoffed at the internet. IBM let a third party write its operating system. Xerox let GUI and ethernet walk out the door. It all depends on who's in charge at that particular moment.

Some good, some bad (5)

glenebob (414078) | more than 12 years ago | (#257910)

DSL is a pain in the ass sometimes. It's a *real* pain in the ass when you live 4000 Ft too far from the home office to get it, and you have to pay twice as much for less than half the bandwidth by getting ISDN. Grrrrrr.

But back in January I moved and woohoo I got very close to the home office. Verizon is now providing me with cheap and very reliable 768/128K DSL. It was installed on time and everything has been peachy.

But, now I'm moving again. Just a few blocks. So I'm having my account moved to a different address and phone #, same modem, same ISP, etc. Simple. This time, however, I've been screwed. I got an original due-date for activation on 04/26. 04/27 rolled around and I called to verify the activation had been done. Turns out the 04/26 date was bogus, and they claim to have no way to find out who did the order. Now the due date is 05/15. The shutdown date for this (old) location is 05/01. That's a 10 *working* day down-time, and they claim that's the best they can do!! Ever!!!

So, until 05/15, I need to use a POTS modem. *sigh* So I call to have a second analog line installed. Guess what... Due date is 05/03. Huh? DSL doesn't require a tech to come to my house, the analog line does. Why the hell does it take so long to activate the DSL line?

I love the bang-for-the-buck factor of DSL, but why the hell does practically every other aspect of it have to blow chunks? It seems that the phone companies don't *really* want to provide it, because it's so cheap. So why the hell don't they just charge a little more and provide decent service?? I'd gladly pay a bit more for it, if I could avoid all the problems. That would also provide a bit more cash for R&D, so maybe they could finally extend the truely pathetic distance restrictions.

Yep... DSL is great, until you find out your one of the majority who can't get it, or get screwed by phone company incompetence, or both.
Damn it Jim, that's my sphincter, not a jelly donut!!!

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (1)

sheeler (416062) | more than 12 years ago | (#257911)


Yes, please do send me the URL. I would like to check it out, as a possibility in the future.

Is that $5/month for the fixed IP address? That's the best mark-up I've seen anywhere, of the ones I've looked at in the Los Angeles area. Can I run my own (small) mail server? What's NAT? What is the recommended way, per your company, to hook up a home network via your DSL service?

Re:Why small ISPs don't make it (2)

sheeler (416062) | more than 12 years ago | (#257912)

Yeah, I have SoCal Verizon DSL. The service seems OK from my vantage point, but I see lots of people in the local Verizon newsgroups complaining about it all the time. Particularly, they complaint about the SMTP and POP mail service. Everyone thinks that the NNTP newsfeed is mediocre at best. The FTP for the websites seems to go down a lot. The only service I use from Verizon, besides the connection, is the NNTP. All other services, I get from my web host, or run off my own machine at home.

Anyhow, the thought of going with a local ISP has crossed my mind, because I might need a fixed IP address at some point, and the cost of getting THAT from Verizon is prohibitive (especially compared to the $39/month we're paying right now).

Can a small ISP provide reliable, dependable SMTP/POP/NNTP and website/FTP/TELNET ? If the service is quality, then I would consider going with them. It's just that I've been with two other small ISPs prior to getting Verizon DSL, and frankly, the service wasn't any better.

Re:Ah come on guys... (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 12 years ago | (#257913)

Isn't preference for dorm rooms still given to students in the first two years? (Freshmen and Sophomores) If not, I'd be watching for that to become the rule again, like it used to. There's no reason why upperclassmen shouldn't start getting used to the real world after a few years of college.

Re:not all dsl was made alike (2)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 12 years ago | (#257914)

Wrong. Lowest cost for equivalent quality wins in the long run. And that's good.

Re:yowza (2)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 12 years ago | (#257915)

Qwest has had a competing service, but Thursday it was announced (or rather, it made it to the newspaper [startribune.com] ) that they're shutting down their ISP operation nationwide and transferring all their customers over to MSN accounts.

In fact, the Qwest exodous to MSN needs to be a major story here on /., if it hasn't already been an article that I've missed.

Re:yowza (1)

warmiak (444024) | more than 12 years ago | (#257916)

"the shocking true story of corporate executives exploiting their workers to get filthy rich!"

Old, incredibly tired class-warfare bullshit.
Preach your shit when you manage to come up with something that actually works better than capitalism.

Re:yowza (1)

warmiak (444024) | more than 12 years ago | (#257917)

Very nice indeed ( and mostly right on the target ...)

However, you forgot to answer my question ...

As to being sensitive ... hmm, I am quite sensitive to people who live in our society enjoying all the perks of our civilization yet routinely engage in demonizing and undermining all that this country stands for.

Re:The dot com bust spread to hardware (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 12 years ago | (#257918)

Who's the "us" in the quote? Because I don't think that applied to the USA (as a matter of public opinion).

Re:Definitely a problem (2)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 12 years ago | (#257919)

I also think the last kilometre (or "mile") are now belongs to the customer (can anyone confirm?), the imcubents are supposed to allow free access to the lines for servicing.

There's an easy solution to this problem: have your local government socialize the distribution network. Putting the electrical grid under public control will be on the San Francisco, CA ballot shortly, for example.

Re:Definitely a problem (5)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 12 years ago | (#257920)

Well, from the telco perspective, they invented a technology (DSL) that allows them to make additional profit from copper networks that *they* built at great expense over the last 80 years. The fact that 3rd parties can get a cut off this network is more of a regulatory miricle than anything else.

If it was easy to build-out the last mile, more people would be doing it. As it is, the cable industry almost bankrupted itself doing so (saved by Internet hype and deep-pockets such as AT&T and AOL/TW). Even as duopoly providers, the phone/cable companies usally with a tacit agreement not to eat each others lunch (despite what they told congress before the 1996 telcom act).

Now, if you had massive amounts of capital, would you spend it laying last-mile connections, or would you buy a slice of wireless spectrum and try to accomplish the same thing at much lower build-out costs?

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