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AT&T Ends Bid To Buy @Home Assets

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the ending-it-all dept.

News 217

thumbtack writes: "In the neverending story of the @home saga it's being reported (on the Excite Portal which is not going under) that AT&T has broken off their bid to purchase Excite@home assets. They cite a number of significant contractual breaches and other violations by the bankrupt broadband Internet access company. In another related story Comcast and Cox say they have inked separate $160 million dollar deals to continued service while they develop their own networks. AT&T say that as of Tuesday morning they have moved 500,000 of their subscribers over to their network."

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217 comments

FIST post . . . (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656738)

right up your mutha-fucking ASS!

Re:FIST post . . . (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656773)

Shouldn't this be marked as off-topic or flaimbait? Oh-well, I just forced a stupid moderator to waste a point. The sooner the crack-whore moderators waste points, the sooner that decent moderators receive points again.

BTH, FIST post, right up your ASS!

Great news! (-1, Flamebait)

Ryu2 (89645) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656743)

Good, the less cable lusers who send me spam, viruses, and spread stuff like Code Red and Nimda the better. Of course, this applies to DSL as well.

Seriously, there needs to be some sort of exam, like a driver's license, before people can get net access...

Why require a test? (2, Insightful)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656760)

We'll still have just as many morons on the Net as we have morons on the roads.

Re:Why require a test? (2)

Moonshadow (84117) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656989)

Easy test:

Step 1: Press Alt-F4 to start the test.

Step 2: If you can read this, you passed.

Re:Great news! (1)

bozo42 (68206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656771)

AMEN!!

And the federal Government will administer the test using Micro$oft software......

DOOOOOOH!!!

We should all be as enlightened as you (-1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656790)

Seriously, there needs to be some sort of exam, like a driver's license, before people can get net access...


Thats a mighty smug attitude to take. This elitist attitude is bullshit in general, and is the biggest thing that pisses me off about Linux. Assholes like yourself who think that only they have the proper knowledge to use something are the biggest obstacle to Linux ever gaining common acceptance. Microsoft, for all its flaws, doesn't have this attitude and this is why its steamrolling Open Source.


Christ almighty you're a dumbfuck.

Re:Great news! (2, Insightful)

AstroJetson (21336) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656794)

Seriously, there needs to be some sort of exam, like a driver's license, before people can get net access...
Not a bad idea, but who do you think would end up in charge of administering these exams? Yup, you guessed it, just another revenue stream for our friends in Redmond.

I think instead, there should be some sort of natural selection at work. If the lusers spreading Code Red and Nimda (not to mention Goner [slashdot.org]) were somehow made to pay for their transgressions, they might be motivated to learn how to be responsible netizens.

huh? (2, Funny)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656755)

AT&T say that as of Tuesday morning they have moved 500,000 of their subscribers over to their network.

Whose subscribers to whose network?

Re:huh? (2)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656789)

AT&T say that as of Tuesday morning they have moved 500,000 of their subscribers over to their network.
Whose subscribers to whose network?
AT&T@Home's customers to AT&T Broadband (the attbi.com thing).

Re:huh? (2)

AxelBoldt (1490) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656864)

I don't understand what is going on at all. What exactly does (did?) Excite@home own? Did they do business with At&T, or with consumers directly? What is AT&T@Home? And At&T Broadband is presumably the cable TV operation of AT&T?

Re:huh? (5, Informative)

M-G (44998) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656933)

I don't understand what is going on at all.What exactly does (did?) Excite@home own?

Excite@Home was a combined company that ran the Excite portal, and the @Home ISP.

Did they do business with At&T, or with consumers directly?

With AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Charter, and a number of other cable companies.

What is AT&T@Home?

AT&T@Home was @Home service provided through AT&T to their broadband customers

And At&T Broadband is presumably the cable TV operation of AT&T?

Yes, along with digital phone service and internet access.

Think of @Home as an ISP, like Mindspring, AOL, or whatever. Think of the cable company as the phone company. With a standard dialup ISP, you use the phone company to connect to your ISP. With high speed cable access, you used your cable provider for a dedicated connection to @Home's service.

If you decide to change dialup ISPs, you change the number you dial. In this situation, the cable companies are unplugging their connection to @Home, and plugging into a different provider's network.

Re:huh? (1)

tenman (247215) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656940)

AT&T owns a high speed cable network. @Home was set up to provide Account Administration,Billing services, customer support, and content. There are more things that @Home provided, and there are sub categorys of the things that I've listed here. One of the most important things IMHO was mail/news/web/etc servers for thier customers. @Home was a service provider, and AT&T was the VAR, or Delivery guy, or what ever...

Re:huh? (2)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656954)

I don't understand what is going on at all. What exactly does (did?) Excite@home own? Did they do business with AT&T, or with consumers directly? What is AT&T@Home? And AT&T Broadband is presumably the cable TV operation of AT&T?
Foo@Home (for any Foo) was the combination of Foo, the cable company, making sure your cable to the Foo office can be used for IP (and that you got billed for it), and Excite@Home, making sure there was IP connectivity from Foo to the Internet. (I don't know where the line of demarcation is between the two organizations.)

AT&T already has an organization that provides IP connectivity to the Internet for home customers: AT&T WorldNet Services.

The trick is getting the AT&T (formerly TCI) cable offices connected to AT&T's existing IP infrastructure.

AT&T (and Cox) had been working on this for a while, knowing a crisis was coming to a head.

Re:huh? (1)

Grit (18830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656980)

Excite@Home got started as @Home, an ISP specializing in cable modem service. (They provided the Internet connectivity, DHCP, proxies, web caches, servers, etc. for the cable companies.) Later they merged with Excite to add a "portal" (and other content) to their business, hoping to turn into the next AOL.

Perhaps the clearest way of putting the business arrangment (as it looked from the customer end, anyway) was that @Home's Internet service was distributed by AT&T. The combination of cable modem + Internet services is what gets labeled "ATT@Home", just like the same arrangement with Cox cable is "Cox@Home". AT&T was basically just in the business of hooking up subscribers to @Home's network; I paid ATT a subscription fee, then they turned around and gave part of it to @Home.

ATT Broadband is the name they've been using all along for their cable business, although now it seems to mean digital phones, too. But the intricacies of their internal arrangements escape me...

Bye Bye Excite! (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656757)

Well, sounds like excite is acting as nothing more than a stop gap measure for the remaining users of it's service until they can get their own networks up and running. So it's safe to say that excite@home will not be an ongoing concern in a few months. Will anybody really notice though?

Re:Bye Bye Excite! (0, Troll)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657188)

Well, I'll certainly notice a drop in spam that uses an @excite.com return address.

Only hurts bondholders (5, Insightful)

bstadil (7110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656763)

This only hurts the @home bond-holders. The guys that convinced the bankrupcy judge that it was better to leave 4M+ accounts without internet connection then weaken thier bargaining position. Could happen to nicer people. I never understood the rationale for the Poker game they played.

Re:Only hurts bondholders (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656929)

I never understood the rationale for the Poker game they played.

It's really quite simple, and elegant. Firstwith, the bond holders, under most states' property rights laws, and under the federal Chapter 11 proceedings for Corporations at Interest, must first announce their intentions to consider the bond debt unassumable (actually, the latin term is Pro Caveat.

After the court approves the declaration, it is then the fiduciary responsibility of the bond holders henceforth. By forcing a temporary shutdown of the service, the bond holders are demonstrating their use of the fiduciary responsibility, and thereby demonstrating reasonable cause in their operation and protection of the asset (the asset being the network operation not the network itself).

It is obvious that this will always produce the correct outcome by fiat. It clearly forced AT&T's hand, and exposed them as a illiquid bidder.

Re:Only hurts bondholders (1)

Grit (18830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657073)

It doesn't seem to have hurt them _too_ badly. The $320 million combined that the two other cable companies are paying is about what ATT was offering for a buyout. But I agree, it was a stupid move.

Way to go shareholders... (1)

instinctdesign (534196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656764)

This is a great example for shareholders on how to screw yourself over. Frankly, I'll be happy when Comcast gets us all switched over to their own system.

Do the math (2, Redundant)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656769)

AT&T was going to pay $305M for the 75% of Excite@Home they didn't already own.

Comcast and Cox paid $320M for the honor of the lights turned out more or less gracefully.

Sounds good ... except Excite@Home (or the companies it owned money to) probably could have gotten up to $400M from AT&T. These are the same folks who thought Excite@Home was worth $1B, and who thought their fair cut of our $40/month payments was about $50/month. (They're getting about $95/month for the "three months, you're out" plan.)

Re:Do the math (1)

ciberbear (536758) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656931)

You have to factor in the cost of continued operations though. It is not that simple. Me thinks, Excite is going to loose big time.
- da bear -

Re:Do the math (2, Insightful)

brulman (183184) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656932)

and Excite now has to pay to keep the network running for the next three months which will probably burn through most of the $320 million. AT&T had offered to absorb 300 employees and take $70 million in debt as well. Excite, their employees, AT&T, the customers AND the greedy bastard bondholders lose. what a bunch of assholes.

Re:Do the math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656934)

That and the fact that @home still has to pay for any overhead/operating costs normally incurred in keeping their service running for those three months...

I personally will be thrilled to hear of @home closing their doors for good.

Re:Do the math (2)

cmowire (254489) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656942)

I suspect that the Comcast and Cox deal made sense because the @Home people figure they can liquidate their assets for more than $80M.

It was likely a good bet. AT&T could have blinked and paid up for more than $400M.

Re:Do the math (1)

ciberbear (536758) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656959)

Oooh, I forgot - I am one of the those ATT customers that were cut off. My experience with Excite? - what a crappy customer service that was and how restrictive and intrusive they were. I'm happy to be away from them.

Was it worth it ? (3, Interesting)

DennisZeMenace (131127) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656778)

One wonders how valuable those assets really were considering it took AT&T about 5 days to switch most of their @Home customers to their own network...

DMZ

Re:Was it worth it ? (2)

SiriusRegalis (470623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656965)

Except you forget one thing...

ATT has their customers capped because their system can't handle the bandwidth. A cap that has been forced on customers who for the most part would have paid more to be without. (at least the 30 or so I've talked to, myself included)

If the network was worth so little, why were my downloads 20 or 30 times faster then they are now? I feel like I've been paying to drive a corvette, and now I'm still paying for that corvette but somebody welded the gear shift into 1st gear. ATT is basically leaving their customers with much lower service and acting like they're doing us a favor....

Re:Was it worth it ? (3, Informative)

DennisZeMenace (131127) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656976)

Results may vary, I guess, but I'm not experiencing this at all. Even though most of the bay area former customerse have been switched already (i was switched sometime yesterday), my bandwidth has not been affected at all. I still have about 2 to 4 Mbps in download, and 128kbps in upload.

Even better, the latency is now considerably better. I use to have ping times of about 200ms from work to my home firewall/router, not it averages at 50ms!

DZM

Re:Was it worth it ? (1)

SiriusRegalis (470623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657012)

Well, Dallas was a big market for them, lots of new users and lots of infrastructure by the local companies put in place. I commonly ran at 13 to 20 Mbs, and that's why we went with @home. With 3 roomates all doing work from home (and playing online shooters) the bandwidth was well used.

The 1.5 cap is hard and fast here. And it has ALOT of people very upset (I work at a independent computer store and talk to people and it's the topic of the week)

Basically, almost eveyone I've talked to would be willing to pay 20 dollars or more a month if they could just get their bandwidth back... I wonder if ATT considered that? Or maybe offering a premium service? Hopefully they will in the near future because this cut has really affected our usage.

Re:Was it worth it ? (1)

avdp (22065) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657069)

How about switching to DSL? No, I am not being an *ss I am serious! It seems that's the whole point of DSL - you pay more, but you have certain bandwidth guarantees. And the more you pay, the more bandwidth you get.

I have had two cable modems (currently Adelphia, and before that comcast@home) and I've NEVER gotten the kind of bandwidth you're describing. I always thought that was fine, I pay a lower fee than DSL and get more than enough bandwidth - but then again, I don't share my connection with 3 roomates - but then again, unless you were paying for the additional IPs, you're not supposed to do that anyway :)

Re:Was it worth it ? (2, Informative)

jonathan_ingram (30440) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657080)

So what do you pay for the 1.5Mpbs service you're complaining so much about? Over here in the UK it's £40-50 ($60-70) a month for 512 down / 128 up.

Re:Was it worth it ? (4, Insightful)

SiriusRegalis (470623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657209)

What I or you pay is not the issue... It's ATT claiming they are doing me a favor when they are not.

I quote "Lightning fast download speeds" when by comparison they are not. This is not the service I signed up for. I spent quite a bit of time in research and talking to reps on the phone because we needed specific service and speeds. @home provided that.

Now ATT is acting like the @Home service wasn't worth the money. But from a customer's point of view it was worth even more. It all comes down to profits, which everything does in business. It's merely a case of extreme profits versus lower profits... still profit though. When having to have your cake and eat it to becomes "and I'll eat everyone else's" is when i have an issue with business. If the customer is prioritized as high as you profit margin, that's when everyone is happy.

ATT is getting a customer base from a company that provided superior service and expecting everyone to accept it. It's their way or the highway... only because they want BIG WHOPPING margins, when a small hit to the profit would still be profit.

And still on top of that, we're willing to pay gladly, so profits don't have to even take a hit. Offer me a premium service, then cap those that don't need it or want to pay. People by expensive foreign cars when a cheaper car would do... why not the same here?

Still no service (0, Redundant)

slugfro (533652) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656788)

"AT&T say that as of Tuesday morning they have moved 500,000 of their subscribers over to their network."

But I am not one of them!! As I have stated in my comments to the other @Home posts the last few days, I have still not been contacted in any form by AT&T regarding my loss of service either before or after the service was turned off. The lastest update [att.com] on the AT&T website says that the Sacramento area should get service Wednesday of Thursday and that a representative will call when service is restored. We'll see if that really happens.

Now I can only read /. from work ;-/

Re:Still no service (1)

snubber1 (56537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656826)

...Wednesday of Thursday...
Is that like Seven of Nine?

Re:Still no service (1)

slugfro (533652) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656840)

uhhhh....uhhhhhh....I must have meant "Wednesday or Thursday". My darn eyes were spacing out again from staring at this cubicle wall!!

well (1)

waspleg (316038) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656793)

comcast just sent me a letter confirming this, luckily i'm on time warner who even went so far as to give me a courtesy call this evening to make sure everything was still working, but i still have an @home email account.. however if my parents lose their access i'm sure it'll be up to me to provide a replacement so i guess i shoudl start trying to find dsl providers that don't suck ass in indy (hint; there are none)

I LOVE LINUX (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656797)

Linux is awesome. Windows sucks!

AT&T Welcome Page (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656805)

The new AT&T network seems to be getting better with every passing day, and today I can finally access most web pages without problem. Still, there are many cases where their "Welcome to AT&T Broadband Internet" message intercepts a site I am trying to go to, telling me to download their configurator or follow the manual instructions. Hmm, since I'm able to access that page, it would seem that I am already configured correclty, no?

I am using the AT&T DNS servers (though I have tried more reliable ones I know of) to see if they were somehow "implanting" their URL for hosts which couldn't be found (I tend to come up with crazy theories sometimes), yet this still happens. Does anybody know how to get AT&T to stop intercepting my pages?

Re:AT&T Welcome Page (1)

sublime (38124) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657000)

They're doing it via their http://proxy:8080

Re:AT&T Welcome Page (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657151)

How so? I have not configured any proxy. Are they doing transparent proxying for HTTP (everything else just works dandy)?

home.attbroadband.com (Re:AT&T Welcome Page) (2)

Tofuhead (40727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657050)

Probably not directly related to what you're talking about, but...

Has anybody tried visiting http://home.attbroadband.com [attbroadband.com] yet? Since yesterday morning (and still, to this minute), it's been pointing to www.yahoo.com.

Hmm, I wonder. "The enemy of my enemy...?"

< tofuhead >

Not Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656807)

I don't think they really intended to continue with that offer. It was more of a "Don't anyone buy them, we want them to die" tactic.

The aftermath of this announcement can be viewed here [dotcomscoop.com].

*sigh*

//reflex

It only HURTS the consumer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656809)

Not only are at&t customers losin 25% of their bandwidth (1.5mbps from 3mbps) we're also losing aout email addresses - and without warning. I'm now user@attbi instead of user@home, which is fine and dandy, except that this is finals week and my profs were sending me things I NEEDED to know about. Thanks a whole fucking lot, at&t. You can say "you're welcome," to earthlink for me.

Re:It only HURTS the consumer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656951)

And you don't have a school provided e-mail address your profs use for class-related communications?

Re:It only HURTS the consumer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657034)

Nope. I don't live on the campus... and... do you think I'd be bitching about this if my school gave me an email addy? Think about it, pal.

Re:It only HURTS the consumer... (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657143)

Well if you had been reading your e-mail from AT&T you would say that - I at least got 3~4 warnings in the last couple of months.

Re:It only HURTS the consumer... (1)

gekman (224336) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657211)

Uhh, I'm guessing that you're not taking any math courses this semester.

Dropping from 3.0 mbps to 1.5 mbps is a _50%_ loss, not 25%...

Why none of this matters. (5, Insightful)

billybob (18401) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656811)

The whole "no more excite@Home" thing doesnt mean anything. Oh, gee whiz, you mean I cant access their totally killer, @home-members-only, portal site anymore? Gosh, I'm depressed. Because I sure did visit that page a lot! Let me count the times.. one... one. The day i got cable modem. over 2 years ago.

I have a cable modem for the constant connection and the insane speed, not the internal content. I think they royally fucked up when they tried to do basically waht AOL does.

They paid nearly 7 billion dollars for excite a couple years ago. SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS. Does anyone realize how much money that is? Does anyone also realize what a waste of money that was? No one gets cable modem so they can use their shitty portal. If thats all youre going to do, you'd be fine with AOL. People get it for the speed and the constant connection. Imagine if @home had 7 more billion dollars right now. They probably wouldnt be in this situation.

So I could care less about what goes on between excite and at&t. were better off without excite. If this means at&t is 300 million dollars richer, maybe that will translate into less rate hikes in the future.

Re:Why none of this matters. (1)

Asgard (60200) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657037)

Did they actually pay that much, or was it some sort of stock swap?

Re:Why none of this matters. (4, Funny)

niola (74324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657246)

LOL! Even funnier is that they spent like $800 million bucks to buy that Blue Mountain Arts greeting card site and recently sold it for like $20 million. Sheesh, I could have coded them up that site in perl for a few $k ;)

--Jon

AT&T & Static IP's (2, Interesting)

Pika (49094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656812)

I had static IP's when AT&T was going through Excite.

Now that AT&T is on their own, it seems they have switched everything over to DHCP....

Has anybody had any luck getting static IP's (or extra IP's) through AT&T?

Re:AT&T & Static IP's (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656885)

I just used Win2000 DHCP, and used the IP numbers from ipconfig to plug into my linux firewall, then switched windows back to 192.168.0.3
Working fine for the past 2.5 days (Seattle)

Re:AT&T & Static IP's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656890)

My cousin has had the same IP the whole time, even though it was DHCP. I was given a static one, so I'll just put that one in as static.

Re:AT&T & Static IP's (0)

jon787 (512497) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656983)

Same type of situtation here in Grand Rapids, MI.
They claim the network is (or was seeing we don't have access restored yet.) DHCP, but my IP address has yet to change since we got the modem.

Just pick an IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657019)

If you just set an IP, it's not like it matters. I'm sure 90% of the people on that network are using windows, and if you get an IP address conflict with them, their computer will cower in fear and shutoff the network. The IP will be yours.

Re:AT&T & Static IP's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657129)

You might also want to look at just using some sort of dynamic dns service such as www.ods.org , there are a bunch of other domains available from them as well as using your own private domain.

check it out, it may solve your dhcp problems.

Re:AT&T & Static IP's (2)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657205)

Here in Washington, we had static IPs to start. Then we switched to DHCP, and were still on DHCP when excite@home cut them off. The thing is, they never reset their DHCP server, and I always had the same IP address. Now, I'm on a different dhcp server and likewise have a different IP address.

New Provider name: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656815)

Let's call it "@Homeless".

My aching ping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656822)

Well I was "switched" over to a new network on Saturday morning. Since then my pings have gone to hell on my favorite online game. (avg ~150ms) I for one will miss those 50ms ping times to tribes servers.

The Spoiled LPB

we need regulation -- NOW (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656830)

It is popular in some circles to say the Internet is so important that it shouldn't be corrupted by government regulation. Try telling that to the 4.1 million people whose Internet service has been threatened, and in some cases interrupted, by the bankruptcy of Excite@Home.

If the Internet really matters--if it's that essential to whatever remains of the "new economy"--then it needs to be regulated to prevent precisely what happened: A messy legal situation in which customer needs were forgotten, as giant corporations feud over their self-interests, not ours.

Since when has a bankruptcy court been the place where telecommunications policy is decided? Isn't that what we hire the Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites) to do? But there's FCC (news - web sites ) Chairman Michael Powell, the general's son and a sterling case of nepotism at work, lamenting that the FCC doesn't regulate cable and could do little to help.

(Of course, the FCC does regulate the traditional wired telecom industry, and that didn't spare Northpoint's DSL customers any grief when that carrier fell over dead earlier this year.)

I am not a fan of deregulating vital public services, be they airlines or electric companies. (What a success power deregulation has been in California, eh?) I've also always questioned the breakup of AT&T, thinking we'd have a much better communications infrastructure if one company had been allowed to build it.

Imagine what would have happened if voice telephone service or electricity were cut off as cavalierly as people's cable modems. For all the trouble California's electric power industry is in--it's also suffered its share of bankruptcies--I haven't heard anyone expressing concern that the lights might go out for any extended period of time.

To add insult to this significant injury, AT&T isn't doing nearly enough to repent for its sins. It's offering two free days of service for every one day the disruption lasts. If you are an AT&T customer, that alone should be grounds for canceling the service. Just downing someone is worth a month free, losing their e-mail another month or two, and each day without service should be good for a week of free broadband. This is something else regulation could do--make it really expensive for Internet providers to screw their customers.

I don't want to spend too much time on this, but AT&T, in engineering what seems to have been a lowball bid for Excite@Home, is the cause of some of these problems. Over the last 20 years, AT&T has gone from being one of America's most trusted corporations to corporate laughingstock.

Deregulation played a big role in this, encouraging Ma Bell to get into questionable businesses like cable television and cable modems. (In fact, by purchasing the TCI cable business, AT&T allied itself with one of the county's least-respected companies.) Success in providing local telephone service also seems to have eluded AT&T, as it has in the Internet content business. In fact, it's hard to think of anything AT&T has done right recently.

There are those who believe the failure of Excite@Home is just a minor inconvenience that will be quickly forgotten. And thus, no regulatory action is necessary.

But the trials and tribulations of Excite@Home--or, more precisely, its 4.1 million customers--underscores how we can't entrust new and essential technologies even to the likes of established giants such as AT&T, Cox, and Comcast. I wonder if those company's customers--who paid their money to the cable carriers--understood how dependent they were on @Home's network?

If we're to adopt essential new technologies--such as those that provide the underpinnings to e-mail and e-commerce--we need protection from companies whose business models fail. We need a program for orderly transitions when companies like Excite@Home go bust.

Since companies can't be counted upon to do this themselves, the government needs to protect us. The best--perhaps the only way--to do this is through regulation.

We need to prevent people from losing access to their electronic mail accounts through no fault of their own. We need to treat the Internet as though connectivity really matters--and that means it's important enough to regulate so as to prevent a meltdown like that experienced by the customers of Excite@Home.

Re:we need regulation -- NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656908)

That's a big ole negative there, ghostrider.

Home broadband is still a relatively new technology. Hell, ISPs in general are a relatively new industry. Do you think the utility companies didn't have their share of fuck-ups initially?

Re:we need regulation -- NOW (1)

jumpingfred (244629) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656964)

Airline deregulation has been a tremendous success. It is cheaper to fly now than when airlines were deregulated many years ago.

Phone deregulation has also been great. It is much cheaper to call long distance now than before deregulation.

plagiarized, my ass (-1, Troll)

David Coursey (541359) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656994)

Did it ever occur to you that I might have written it in the first place?

Guess I won't be clicking "Post Anonymously" anymore around you guys. Sheesh.

MOD PARENT DOWN -- YAHOO.COM GOATSEX LINK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657023)

don't click!!

Re:we need regulation -- NOW (2, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657014)

This is wrong on so many levels it's painful to read. But all I'm going to point out is that California's energy crisis was not the result of deregulation, as it never occurred. What really happened is that the State told power resellers they could only charge a fixed amount for power, but wholesalers could charge whatever they wanted. This led to power utilities selling energy for *less then they paid for it*. There's no way any company can stay in business very long under those circumstances.

Given that example of government interferance in the market, why do you think anything different would happen if they got their dirty hands into the Internet business?

Re:we need regulation -- NOW (1)

spam_and_egcs (166833) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657128)

Give me a break. Could we be any more alarmist?


You know what? I'm one of those @Home customers that is going to be without service until Thurs. I have a real reason to complain, as I am going to graduate school remotely, and rely on my connection to complete my work and watch lectures. The final is Monday, so the timing couldn't be worse. But I'm not bitching. Why? Because I have the *choice* to use dialup, which I can get for 1/3 the price. It will take me longer, but I can still get the job done. Besides, there are more important issues on my mind right now than whether or not I can check my email. The mail and the phone still work fine, thanks.


You try to draw a parallel to the power crisis (I'm also a Californian), but it doesn't hold water. To start with, the previous Republican administration that did this half-assed job of deregulation only went 1/2 way, keeping control of some aspects (capping prices) but not others (supply). Then, Gov. Davis got the ball and dropped it. His idea of helping the power crisis is to bail out the power monopolies so that they can keep gouging the customers, then cap the prices so they can't keep the lights on. The whole point is to let them go bankrupt and let other companies spring up in their place, fostering competition for supply and customers. There was a utility company in Az. that basically was ready to sell us all the power we needed, but could not afford to because of the price caps. So the lights went out. Yeah - regulation really helped that one.

Had the utilities been able to purchase the power, the lights would have stayed on. And the price would have gone up to be a little closer to what the rest of the nation pays. Better still, customers would start choosing other utilities that are offering better rates, fostering competition. Then we start to see a situation like the long-distance carriers. This is good. The power crisis had nothing to do with having independent power operators - it had to do with the government sticking their nose in, capping prices and making it damned near impossible for the utilities to compete. This is where your analogy falls apart - the lights went out becuase of governmental control. My broadband is out because AT&T screwed us, and as a consumer I have all kinds of legal avenues to pursue this issue. Meanwhile, I can go elsewhere for other service.


Okay, so here's where I actually come your way and start to agree with you - regulation needs to extend to the *infrastructure*. The power grid (lines, transformers, substations), which needs to be managed on at least a county level for security and continuity reasons, should be owned and managed by the county or state, leased to the utilities. This is the arrangement for water, sewer and phone. Why is it not the case for power? As for cable, I lost service because AT&T fscked up, dropped the ball and screwed its customers. And I plan on changing my service. Enough people do this and they get the point. And we can because it is a free market, allowing other companies to come along and compete. That's how capitalism is supposed to work.


I know I am missing details in areas, but for brevity I tried to hit the important points. The point I am trying to make is that when we have the government regulating prices and terms of service, it ultimately takes the power (pardon the pun) out of the hands of the consumer, and places it into the hands of the companies providing service.

AT&T did a resonable job (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656847)

I am in the San Francisco Bay Area and I was down on Saturday, Sunday but back online by Monday night. And my email account has the same password. Did they just scrub the disks and re-ip the mail servers. I wonder what the actual network switch was since AT&T owned most of the network already.

Well Boulder (and probably Denver area)... (1)

bwhaley (410361) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656858)

... is still down as of about 30 seconds ago. I went down sometime early Saturday morning and haven't seen the light of day since. Instead I am dialing up to my campus network at about 19.2kbps since our phone line sucks so much. With companies like AT&T and Qwest you really can't win. I still prefer AT&T to Qwest anyday though...

Re:Well Boulder (and probably Denver area)... (1)

batboy78 (255178) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656905)

I'm not part of the AT&T crew but, I got switched over to Adelphia PowerLink this morning at about one, I went over to DSLreports to do the speed test, it seemed even better then before, but now, I am almost ready to go out and get a new modem, and dial-up account, I was downloading at 840bps. I hope these are just growing pains, I wonder how much Qwest DSL is?

Re:Well Boulder (and probably Denver area).. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656982)

I am part of the AT&T crew, and you should be up tonight. We are working our tails off to get the network elements in place and have everyone migrated ASAP...I believe that we will be done by Thursday evening.

I do feel bad for our customers, and our customer service folks, that they got caught up in this pissing match between Excite@home and AT&T Broadband.

Re:Well Boulder (and probably Denver area)... (2)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657022)

I was told that we're scheduled to have our service back up on Thursday.

Of course, who knows how long it will take to get to noncompliant drones who aren't using Windows. We cause them too much trouble since we can't follow their predigested scripts (and I'm usually too busy to be willing to lie my way through endless Windows menus instead of taking 15 seconds to edit a text file and restart a server).

Boulder back up! (2)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657247)

My Boulder modem is back up, at least temporarily. I did have to change my linksys firewall/router from a static IP address to DHCP....

Content: It's what you want! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656866)

Hey all you Gen Xers out there. Come to goatse.cx [goatse.cx] for the latest and greatest content! We've got all the content you need---and more! We aren't one of those "dot-bombs" like those @Home lusers you read about on slashdot. We've got staying power!!!

For just $49.95 a month, we'll give you all the content you can handle! Point your browser to goatse.cx [goatse.cx] today! First 150 people to sign up get a free 6-pack of Surge®, a nifty tribal tattoo, and an impacted colon.

Yes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656930)

I love the goatse man - I can happily spend hours staring into the abyss, happily contemplating the truths of reality and wondering who has the matching wedding ring!

An AT&T broadband customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656910)

I was an Excite@Home customer and now AT&T has transitioned me to their network. It went pretty smoothly given the circumstances. I was basically down for two days and I can live with that. The networking changes required are minimal if you happen to use DHCP.

The only sore point is the change on my email address. I had that account for four or more years now and had mailing lists and such setup. It will take me a while to recover from that. The slight benefit is that atleast no spam for the past two days.

DNS. . . . (0, Redundant)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656914)

You know, I wouldn't mind the bandwidth caps as long as they are temporary, and I can understand iffy service, but damnit;

DNS SERVICES ARE A TAD WEE BIT FRIGGIN CRUCIAL.

Bleh, darn thing is so friggin iffy, bleeeeh.

Also cannot upload to webspace account if you are not on a computer on the ATTBI network, darnit, there goes my file drop, heh. Signed up for a free one, bleh.

Back on the topic of DNS though, I suggest that people now take the time to switch over to one of the many alternative DNS providers out there are are free and give ya lots of nifty TLDs to play around with. :)

Re:DNS. . . . (2)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657108)

Why are you using their DNS server?

Seriously, I long ago got tired of DNS servers "disappearing" because some bozo forgot (or never knew) that there were some systems set up for static IPs because their support people didn't want to deal with the odd Linux user... and without DHCP you don't get the new IP address for the name servers.

Once I had a basic DNS server running, I took immense pleasure in adding a few authoritative entries. Doubleclick? X10.com? They go straight to my web server (usually) where the browser returns a quick 404 error. Watching the status bar on the dialup line, I'm beginning to suspect that the good performance on my cable modem is as much due to local DNS server as the bandwidth. (For some reason the local server isn't working with the dialup line.)

AT&T still sucks... (0, Redundant)

codewolf (239827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656915)

Here is a link to the migration timings for AT&T customers:

http://help.broadband.att.com/faq.jsp?name=srvc_av ailable_frmrtci [att.com]

I am still without cable modem access, and without any other choice for a high speed connection.

As soon as I do have a choice, I'll be running away from AT&T. This debacle is AT&T's fault, they failed their customers, and should have had an immediate backup plan when this happened.

This wouldn't have happened. . . (1, Offtopic)

"Zow" (6449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656920)

This wouldn't have happened if people didn't Dump broadband and dug out their modems [slashdot.org]. Sorry, just occured to me and I couldn't resist. If you didn't read the comments with the story, now would be a good time (it's worth a chuckle).

-"Zow"

Why not do some type of buyout? (3, Interesting)

PoiBoy (525770) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656927)

AT&T had been offering something in the $300-$400 million range to buy all the assets of @Home, and now Comcast et al. are paying $320 million to keep the network running for 3 months?

The numbers don't make sense. Either AT&T threw out an incredibly lowball bid, or the other cable companies are paying out the nose for continued service.

For this type of money, I'm surprised they don't buy the company outright either by themselves or perhaps by partnering with a private equity firm.

Re:Why not do some type of buyout? (2)

dhamsaic (410174) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657228)

AT&T threw out an incredibly lowball bid. That's why they got axed and Cox & Comcast still have service. AT&T's offer was an insult - sort of like me coming up to you and saying "I'll give you $5 for that 1.4GHz Athlon system you got there..."

AT&T Now Working For Me (3, Informative)

CodingFiend (236675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656928)

My cable modem service had stopped working, got an automated call last week telling me that I should get another call at the end of this week telling me what's up.

I then signed up for a temporary dial-up account with a local ISP. By chance, I decided to try the cable modem, so I used IE's connection wizard. IE then opened a window containing setup information for the "new" AT&T (basically, changed DNS from specific servers to automatically find the DNS servers), and I now have my cable modem working again! I honestly didn't realize how painfully slow dial-up was until forced to use it!!

Re:AT&T Now Working For Me (0, Flamebait)

bstadil (7110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657015)

I am impressed, you must be the only guy that AT&T is working for ;-),
They look after themselves (quite badly I might add) and nobody else.

Re:AT&T Now Working For Me (1)

CodingFiend (236675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657210)

Hehe, I'm expecting the phone call on how to get back online in a few days :-) Glad I "discovered" how to by accident!

Sad day ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2656939)


I just heard on talk radio that Stephen King was found dead in his home early this morning. They didn't have any more details. Even if you hated his books and movies, you can't deny his contributions to american culture. Truly an icon to be remembered.

No surprise here (2, Insightful)

SmittyTheBold (14066) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656963)

Really, what would AT&T have to gain now? E@H is losing 50% or better of their user base in three months. They have lost a huge amount of money, and all AT&T would gain out of such a deal would be some additional infrastructure. So what? They're already well on their way to supporting all their users that used to be on @Home with their current infrastructure.

Not to mention the political side of it - Excite cut AT&T off, while the other companies remained connected. Pissing off a big company like that is not they way to convince them you're worthy of doing business with.

Several things to watch out for with the installer (3, Informative)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2656968)

I've noticed the following:
1)I've had a shortcut (symlink, for you non windows folks ;) ) that was deleted by the installer.
It was, of course, called @home (news reader).
Good thing it was not a folder with data..phew.

2) I had made a "hard" association of vbs with notepad to avoid viruses (via winfile, so registry entries would not over write my association). The installer broke (or re-enabled it, if you prefer) that association.
Grrrrrr.

3) Outbreak^H^H^H^H^Hlook express 6 was installed w/o warning... and with the new virus floating around, not the brightest thing to do.

4) Exploiter^H^H^H^Hrer 6, same thing. Did not want it, did not need it, yet there it was.
K-Meleon, Netscape, or IE 5.x is what I'll use, sometimes in that order.

5) Something is not right with the installer, at least for me... kept getting "loadcw.exe page fault, blah, blah"...sigh.
5 1/2) Speed is still 8kbytes down, 12kbytes up, not cool, seeing as pipeline starts at 512down/128up... something is not right..heh...if only I could call them and get help...hahahahaha, yeah, right... that's funny. Maybe next week, or a visit to the "home" office here in town.

So far it works. But the best description of the current speeds has been deemed "as fast as a frozen slug". Heh, thanks to one of my cow-workers, at least I got a chuckle today.

And that is the "Morning Report" from the field.
(apologies to Rowan Atkinson's character).

Moose

Re:Several things to watch out for with the instal (0)

Inside_Joke (246574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657066)

That's odd. I didn't have any problems like that with my @Home installation. Hooked up the modem, changed the network settings, looked at a few pages to make sure it worked (and boy, does it!), and that was it. Whole thing took all of 10 minutes. Hardest part was getting behind the desk to hook in the cable.

Re:Several things to watch out for with the instal (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657127)

You're better off then me - ever since the transition my connection has been 300 baud down and I'm not quite sure what up (and I'm not bs'ing you in the slightest).

Re:Several things to watch out for with the instal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657236)

You do realise that associations made through the file manager (both explorer and winfile) set them through the registry, don't you? Moron.

You can't cancel! (5, Informative)

rkuris (541364) | more than 12 years ago | (#2657140)

I just tried calling AT&T Broadband to cancel my service, since I have found broadband access elsewhere, and they said they couldn't do it! The problem is they are changing their systems, and suggested I call back on the 12th.

The main reason I chose to look elsewhere is their new subscriber agreement [att.com] specifically states that you are stealing their service if you hook up another computer to the network:

(g.) Theft of Service. Customer shall not connect the Service or any AT&T Broadband Equipment to more computers, either on or outside of the Premises, than are reflected in Customer's account with AT&T Broadband. Customer acknowledges that any unauthorized receipt of the Service constitutes theft of service, which is a violation of federal law and can result in both civil and criminal penalties. In addition, if the violations are willful and for commercial advantage or private financial gain, the penalties may be increased.
So... for those of you staying with AT&T Broadband, you better tell them about masqueraded hosts!

Re:You can't cancel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2657198)

Very well, drop the service, but I'll call it overkill. Honestly, did you plan to let any of their servicemen into your home without disassembling that NAT setup or hiding that spliced portion of coax where you removed the video filter? :)
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