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The Almighty Buck

Houston DSL users File Lawsuit Against SBC 252

cprincipe writes "According to this story on Yahoo, Houston DSL customers of SBC Communications have filed a lawsuit alleging that SBC has intentionally lowered connection speeds to its customers. " SBC, it should be noted, is the parent of Southwestern Bell, and recently acquired Ameritech.
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Houston DSL users File Lawsuit Against SBC

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  • One not on the Verizon equipment (GTE) for the CO. They do not properly set the FECN/BECN bits on the frame/atm network. As such, we have had to do bandwidth shapping of our transmit side of the network in order to make sure we don't over-run the speed that a has ordered. Unfortunately, that means that if a customer upgrades his service and forgets to tell us, he doesn't see any improvement....
  • I might be considered a different case. I am a power user (see my Windows 2000 Geek of the Week page []), and I used to have a 56K modem connecting to Worldspy (which I'd connect to using Dial-Up Networking [my typing teacher found a way to get around the laggy Java client]). When Worldspy was gobbled up by Juno, I was left with no ISP and no choice but to get a high speed connection. I could have used cable, but I didn't because hundreds of people in my town jumped on the RoadRunner bandwagon (I know firsthand: I work at CompUSA, and they ask me where the network cards are [some of them don't even know what a network adapter is]). My friend has it, and he reports that it bogs down to 10k per second. I then looked at DSL. It was 384 to 640kbps (translates to a peak of 60k per second), and the substation is just down the street. I ordered it and set it up (during the strike, I might add). I connected it to my Linksys router, and now I experience constant rates: 60k per second download, 11k per second upload. And it never deviates from that (unless, of course, the server at the other end is slow; many of those mp3 ftp servers are just K6-2 machines!). I chose DSL over cable because it meant freedom from the TimeWarnerAOLMediaOneAT&T conglom-o.
  • by TBC ( 11250 )
    PPPoE is only used because the Radius Authentication system was already in wide use. The DSL connections are already PVC's, so you could implement a direct connection system if you wanted. You could even use a /30 subnet mask on the connection to mandate ONLY 1 IP would be available.

    With the advent of IPMASQ, trying to limit to a single IP address is a loosing proposition.
  • Would it be posible to sue them for failure to install?? It's been 5 phone calls and I have not even seen a human being yet. With all the agravation I am going through just to GET DSL, I better recieve everything I am paying for. OH and god forbid I have my machine on a network when they show up! then they will charge me 69.95 a month instead of the 39.95 basic rate. never mind if I am not asking them to connect the other machines..................
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmmm. This reminds me of the situation in Denmark, where I live. Ameritech recently acquired a large portion of "Tele Danmark", the company which was once the only telecommunications company here. Right now, they sit on all the copper, and when other companies wants to offer DSL lines, they have to go through a check with Tele Danmark to see if there is enough raw copper on the address - since Tele Danmark doesn't do shared copper, unless it is on their own DSL lines. Short story is, I tried to get a DSL line from World Online, and they said, no - not enough copper on that address, on account of World Online having to use _another_ copper-line just for the DSL-data. Sucks, man! And to make it worse, I waited 2 months for the answer! Tele Danmark (Ameritech) delivers the whole package in a week!
    So, is Ameritech/SBC really a Microsoft company? :)
  • When do you see the Sun God "Ra"? I'm Glaswegian, and (almost)every morning I leave my house to travel to work at 8.20, it rains. Have you read 'So long, and thanks for all the fish'? Imagine the rain god in it, that's me. Keep your eyes open though, if it stops raining in September, it's because I've moved to Switzerland, and the rain has followed me.
  • Pac Bell offers service with lots of ISPs. [] Unless you're in California LATA 2, wherever that is.


  • I've been using RR in Houston since the "beta test" (a bit over a year...) and when it's working, it's great. The upstream sucks, but it's sufficient. The downstream on the other hand is very good.

    However, my area (I'm in northwest Houston) has experienced frequent (at best (least) once a month, usually more), unexplained outages. This isn't just me and my line integrity, it's everyone within a 5 mile radius that I know has RR.

    These last two days it has been on and off every 5-15 minutes. The cable light has gone off twice^H^H^H^Hhree times since I started this post. And all I can get is "let's restart your modem" or "Well, we're not showing an outage in your area" or whatever. It sucks. The tech support is pointless but, thankfully, pretty friendly and willing (if you bitch, of course) to give you some sort of refund on your bill.

    Getting DSL here now is impossible. We've tried at work to get some sort of broadband solution but we can't get anyone to get us service in a timely manner. So I guess SBC is a little overloaded...

    My whole feel on broadband providers is they don't care too much about the customer, just the customer's money. They're way too willing to take your money, but not very willing to back their claims up. I wish my internet connection was /really/ 100x faster, because then I could upload family videos or whatever to relatives in a timely manner. Sure, I'd use it for warez too, but there are legitimate uses for a fast upstream connection. Stuck at 20kBps tops for now, I suppose :/

  • by sulli ( 195030 )
    So they ARE capping the speed of the newsgroups. Probably because they didn't allocate enough server capacity, and dsl users are hitting the binaries groups with a bit too much vigor...

    On the suit, though, did they ever advertise guaranteed throughput for news?


  • I've NEVER heard of a satisfied bell atlantic customer ... from the simplest pots installs to high bandwidth circuits they still can't get their act together -- I just assume all telcos suck equally.
  • I don't know, if you manage to pull 128kB out of a 2400baud modem, I'd think that's pretty damned impressive :)
  • With this in the news, soon on its heals should be a class action complaint agains Pacific Bell. They continue to advertise, but delays are commonly 2 months before it's up and running. Often they can't deliver the speed (because they don't tell you up front you have to be close to a switch or something.) And often screw up peoples computers.

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • the status bar speaks for itself. here's a link to your homepage: []


  • by Ed Bugg ( 2024 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @12:11PM (#844182)
    Just as a test I did a ftp session to ( and did some transfers and this is what I got.

    get linux-2.4.0-test6.tar.bz2
    local: linux-2.4.0-test6.tar.bz2 remote: linux-2.4.0-test6.tar.bz2
    200 PORT command successful.
    150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for linux-2.4.0-test6.tar.bz2 (18106527 bytes).
    226 Transfer complete.
    18106527 bytes received in 122 secs (1.5e+02 Kbytes/sec)

    That's what I expect 1.2Mbps download speed, so as you can see it's not an all 128k cap on everything.
  • Eh? Am I missing something wrong with my post?

    Nice caps though... they're really, uh... big!
  • Contrast with DHCP, where (apparently) anyone with a valid DSL line can grab multiple addresses.

    Not necessarily. Some gateway routers (e.g. Redback) can be configured to only allow one IP per location. I think PPPoE is really for authentication of another sort (more accountability for abuse) but I've always thought that the user experience is too much of a pain. Authentication is useful, but if a customer is abusing the service, you can always kill their line at the gateway.


  • by sulli ( 195030 )
    Actually, a /30 would work for a routed connection with one usable IP (the other three are for the network, broadcast, and premises router) but this is highly wasteful of IPs as 3 of 4 aren't used. So it's best to use a bridged connection with DHCP (my preference) or PPPoE, to assign only one IP per user.


  • Definitely call them. SBC is the parent company of Pac Bell, so perhaps you were notified that your Pac Bell service is now provided by SBC, but I would think that you could switch to another LATA1 ISP. (Pac Bell/SBC of course offers service in all LATAs; this was the list of other non-PB/SBC ISPs, for the alphabet soup fan.)


  • SWBell is advertising "up to 384 Kbps rates," but if you are never capable of achieving the advertised rates, then that is illegal, just as if SWBell advertised "up to 150 Mbps transfer." If you advertise a something, there must be a reasonable expectation of being able to achieve that.

    Ben Kosse

  • by sulli ( 195030 )
    Since SBC uses an ATM fabric all the way out to their DSL modems, it is possible to assign priority to different types of traffic.

    Yes, but it is much more difficult to distinguish by TCP application at the ATM client device, typically a dumb bridge. You can, and some carriers do, prioritize "business" over "individual" traffic, but this is by PVC, not by application (NNTP/SMTP/HTTP/Napster).


  • The Central Office is defined by the location of the DSLAMs, the devices that bridge between your phone line and a backbone. Without the use of repeaters, this is probably within 20 000 feet of yout home. DSLAM-digital subscriber line access multiplexer
  • And it is still pretty much the same story. BT are such a fuckwitted company. The phrase useless bastards just does not do them justice - and, don't get me wrong, I mean their management not the techhies.

    Here's what their Chairman, Iain Vallance has to say about it all, as recently as November '99, from a speech to the TMA reported by ZDNet []:

    In a speech designed to silence the stream of criticism BT has faced from ISPs, users and government in recent weeks over Internet access charges and rollout of ADSL, Vallance claimed BT was playing the role of a "lollipop man trying to restrain the over-exuberant children"

    On ADSL services, Vallance claimed the technology was not yet "fit for purpose" and that market demand was not sufficient to justify the cost.

    Finally Vallance sought to dampen enthusiasm for the Internet. Highlighting problems of privacy, viruses and legality on the Net, Vallance questioned the technology. "It is, in many ways, in its infancy and not yet fit for purpose,"

    You'll forgive me for swearing. Words fail me.

  • The article lacked detail. It'd be useful to know how many people were affected, for how long and the impact.

    It does beg the question - how many telcos are covertly operating a sub-standard service, hoping nobody will notice?

    Perhaps all telcos should provide open source, impartial network monitoring software in order to self-regulate the quality of service. In Britain we have a telco watchdog that would stomp all over this thing.


  • TV signals are analog and usualy not subject to error correction. data trafic is another beast all together. plus, yes my cable has looked crappy for no good reason on ocasion. With the penny pinching TimeWarner has shown up to now, how far do you think they will segment their network? Not very far if the cost is going to surpass the complaint factor.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would imagine they will loose this case on the simple fact that the bandwidth is not being limited on their line, but on connectivity to the servers. The SWBell servers are throttling the speed which has nothing to do with the DSL service. Therefore, the complaintents have no case, because SWBell makes no service guarantee on the speed of their internal servers, only the DSL line itself. Specificly, they only guarantee the speed of the DSL line internally and not the internet connectivity itself.

  • For those of you who have never had to deal with SBC, be advised that for those of us who have, this is no surprise at all.

    Southwestern Bell has always sucked, sucks, and will always suck barring saturation atomic bombing of their corporate headquarters.

    They suck worst in Oklahoma, where they are deliberately punishing the state for Bob Kerr rolling them over to the FBI for attempting to bribe him. The forms this punishment takes includes things like $150 a month ISDN BRI, $4700+ a month ISDN PRI, etc. (ISDN rates in urban areas are lower, but still unreasonable.)

    So now they suck on DSL too? Gee, imagine that.

    Every home I ever lived in in SBC territory, I had to rip out all their wiring and redo it myself if I wanted more than 16,800 baud on my connections.

    They suck.

  • We [] are a not-for-profit ISP in Chicago, offering true (dedicated, not oversold) bandwidth to members. Our service is not cheaper than other ISPs.

    Right now I am pricing the options to offer DSL service to members, and having a difficult time finding DSL circuit providers that are not overselling their own internal (ATM/FR) bandwidth from the central offices themselves.

    Unfortunately, real bandwidth costs real money, a true T1 connection without any artificial restrictions will run you around $1,500.00 in most major US cities, not counting the cost of the circuit itself. When you pay a DSL provider $49.95 a month, you aren't going to be getting dedicated access to $1,500 worth of bandwidth!

    A for-profit ISP has to keep their average customer happy (Slashdot readers are not their average customer), pay the monthly recurring cost for the support personnel, rent, DSL and T1/T3 circuits and bandwidth to the Internet, pay off the initial capital expense, and eventually turn a profit. They have no choice but to cut corners and oversell bandwidth.

    At most, you get what you pay for.

  • From SBC's DSL page: "Note: Service and speed options not available in some areas. Minimum connection speed or "sync-rate" (384Kbps or 1.5Mbps) is guaranteed between customer location and serving central office. Connection speeds may be higher under optimal conditions. Actual data transfer or throughput may be lower than sync-rate due to Internet congestion, server or router speeds, protocol overheads, and other factors that cannot be controlled by SBC Companies." Read: Your line is guaranteed at 384kbps downstream, but once it hits the router, tough shit (that's been my experience anyway).
  • I'm a former SBC customer in Houston. What happened is that a few months ago, they had a lot of people sign up for DSL in a huge bout of advertising showers. You couldn't look anywhere without hearing about SBC DSL. They signed all these people up for mandatory one-year contracts. Now in mid-stream, they post a notice on the web page [] saying "to offer better service to our customers, we've capped our news servers to 128kbps" or so. It's also apparent that they've capped dowload rates to about the same, but they won't admit that.

    When you call to complain, all they say is that they can only guarantee your DSL line speed, not the speed of another site. They repeat that when you say that your friend with a T1 (well, works at an ISP with one) can download at 140 KB/sec give or take, while I get 12 KB/sec.

    At any rate, the suit appears to be over the fact that they signed you into a contract, then changed their side while offering no compensation. In my opinion, this lawsuit is well justified and overdue.

  • This is exactly why another group in a different area needs to bring the same kind of suit against SBC. Then all the partys involved need to make sure that Wall Street knows about the problem. SBC will not do a damn thign unless they are forced by the FCC, courts or upset stock holders. There is nothing that will get a large company moving faster than their stock price going down for a reason they can pinpoint.

    Its about time these idots learn that if they advertise "internet access" that means full tcp/ip including server. They can limit bandwidth to servers on shared media like cable but they can't simply say "no servers" because that isn't "Internet Access".
  • It's not how big a pipe you have, it's how you use it.
  • In my area it's neither the phone company (US Worst -- Life's Bitter Here!) nor the cable company but rather one of the LEC's that gets the broadband to my house. They still have a monopoly on broadband in the area though, since none of the others can deliver.

    Even if they could, though, and there was good competition, you'd probably get raked over the coals for setup fees if you switched. I got nailed pretty hard when Covad ran their line to my house (They may have had to run copper though, since I'm out in the middle of nowhere.) If those setup fees are the norm, I wouldn't want to switch DSL providers on a regular basis.

    Fortunately I'm happy with Covad/Speakeasy and don't plan to switch anytime soon.

  • by rhdwdg ( 29954 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:10AM (#844217) Homepage
    Newsgroups are Internet sites where individuals can exchange and download material such as large graphic files.

    Finally, a reporter who understands why people need DSL. :-)

    Attempt to dodge off-topicness: 128k is pathetic for DSL, isn't it? I doubt they can win a suit, but good luck to them.

  • Ever hear of oversubscription? Each customer isn't going to use the whole line all the time, so it's acceptable to put more customers on the line than you can support (to a point).

    Also, instead of lining their pockets, the executives might want to spend money buying another T3. It would be good for their business in the long run.
  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:28AM (#844224)

    The problem is most Public Utility Commisions (PUCs) which are charged with keeping the phone company in line really have to look at what the tarrif says. They really aren't charged with looking at marketing.

    For instance, U S WEST, now QWEST, originally filed DSL as being 640K down and 256K up (Note, this was at a state level, with the FCC they filed 256K both ways). However, read closely this is an UP TO speed. The actual minium rate is 1K.

    The phone company may be able to say these are the public documents defining the service. We fulfilled the tarrif in full.

    And even at that, that's still speeds only between the customer and the ISP. Once you're outside the ISP it's hard to sue based on internet speeds. At the very least it's not hard ot confuse the issue.

    It seems to me that it's going to come down to laws in the state. For instance, if the PUC already voted against taking action on this issue the laws in the state may allow the case to be thrown out.

    Even if they lose the only people who will make anything will be the lawyers.
  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <icebalm&icebalm,com> on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:28AM (#844233)
    While I understand how the plaintiffs feel in this case, and intentionally lowering speeds might not be a nice thing for a DSL company to do, I can't see how a suit like this could be taken seriously. Has a law been passed that I'm not familiar with which outlaws such an action?

    If a company offers you a service and they say they are going to GUARANTEE 384kbit/s to email, they kindof have to abide by that, it's simple contract law. If at any time that speed goes under 384kbit/s, regardless of cause (act of god notwithstanding), they can be held liable.

    If people aren't happy with their DSL service, why can't they just switch providers?

    In many cases there is only one high speed provider in the area, a "virtual monopoly" if you will. Sure, you can switch providers... but it'll be dialup.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • I guess this does vary by region. My roadrunner lets you have three machines (with real IP's). And it's WAY faster than the DSL. For instance, at a place with plenty of bandwidth, like, say, Microsoft, If I get less than 200K for the average of a file transfer, the 'nets having a bad day.
  • No, we have a 3mbit download speed. Hell, with my old Lancity modem, we were theoretically capped at 10mbit! Of course, we never *got* that speed, but I do remember a few 600kB/sec burst tramsissions in the early hours of the morning. Now we're limited to 375kB/sec by the design of the hardware, which is still damn fast. Optimum Online is *great* now.
  • BellSouth uses Alcatel modems in my area. If you're using the wintel client, when you bring up the connection status, if you hit 'Ctrl-Alt-A' you'll get a window that has additional information.

    Included is maximum possible speed (actual, not theoretical) to/from the CO and actual speed to the CO. Bellsouth's max uplink was around 800Kb/s, but was throttled to 256Kb. That was a definite hard throttle. The maximum possible downstream was very close to 1.5Mb/s, but the actual rate seemed to hover around 1Mb/s, but never went above that. I literally lived across the street from the CO (both as the crow flies and the coppier lies), so I don't see how I could *not* get better connection speeds. Anybody else try this?


  • I've never had an ISP, through dial-up or DSL that provided a good newsfeed. Either they were slow as hell, timed out constantly, lacked retention, or just plain missed headers altogether.

    What I want to know is, do any of these people use third party news services like newsfeeds or newscene? If they are still getting throttled then I would be inclined to bitch about it. I always thought it was a basic ISP rule to provide a "bare-minimum" newsfeed, and if you really wanted the gigs and gigs of kitty pr0n you would shell out the cash for a real server.


  • Moderators, this is *not* flamebate. It may look like it, but everything said above is true. Please moderate accordingly.
  • Actually, for the last couple weeks or more, people trying to switch ADSL providers have been told by swbell that swbell's "switching software" is experiencing problems and they're unable to switch anybody right now.

    Coincidentally, this is about the time that a lot of 1-year ADSL contracts are expiring.
  • Oh, really? Think about all the people that have televisions. Does the quality of the television decrease when more people are added to the network? I don't think so. Cablemodems essentially use a specialized television "channel" and an sorta-ethernet uplink. Also, it's much easier to alleviate the shared bandwidth problem --- divide the area into smaller segments. Bandwidth is only 'shared' among a single segment, at least in the sense ADSL advocates refer to it as. Not to mention that DSL *is* shared, just at the ISP instead of the local quasi-LAN.
  • SBC guarantees a minimum access rate of 384 kilobits per second for its DSL service but not for newsgroups

    The article makes it sound like the DSL actually works perfectly, but that there's a slow NNTP server, or the server is on a slow link or something. Considering the [lack of] accuracy in the reporter's description of newsgroups, though, I wonder if maybe the problem is poorly described.

    Hmm... If you're an ISP that supplies news, and the news is sucking all the bandwidth, and you can afford to piss off your customers, then just use a 286 with a really slow disk for your news server. More request latency -&gt less traffic. Problem solved. :-)

  • I don't know what it's like in your area, but if you have any alternatives (Cable, other DSL providers, etc) I would look into them seriously, and let the company you're dealing with know. My girlfriend ordered PacBell DSL and after 6-7 weeks of phone calls and no install date, she gave up and got Cable. That was installed in a week, everything went flawlessly.

    One thing that a lot of people don't seem to know about DSL is that your provider doesn't necessarily have to be your phone company. I chose a relatively small provider in my area that got lots of great reviews. They have to deal with the telco regarding line issues, not me. And they've been great with service, much better than the telco itself. But I don't know if such providers exist in your area or if the local laws allow the telco to have a monopoly on DSL service...

    Check out DSL Reports [] for more info on your area, and post a bad review of the company if you're sick of 'em!

  • Most DSL companies I've looked at will, in fact, offer you higher (and guaranteed) bandwidth, but you have to pay through the nose (because otherwise you end up competing for their T1 services)

    Ben Kosse

  • This isn't at all surprising to me. The name of the game for ISPs is "oversubscription" -- you need to be able to keep much lower bandwidth than the sum of your subscribers. DSL and other high-speed media services make this very difficult, both in terms of upstream internet access and local server capacities.

    Given that the ISP in question here is the phone company, I'm not at all suprised at their "We're the phone company and we'll give it to you any way we like it, and not even provide a reacharound" management philosophy. It's even more tempting for them to do this when many of their customers are normal end-lusers who don't have the skills to adequately measure throughput in any meaningful way. To most people, it either works or doesn't work and chopping throughput by 1/3 is transparent to most people.

    The outcome to this is important. Even if it they don't win the civil suit, it's really important that these companies get shamed for pulling these kinds of shenanigans and that they put the capital investment in maintaining their infrastructure. Let's be honest -- they're too profit-hungry to keep their servers up to snuff so instead they're shafting the customers. Let's hope the plaintiffs win AND humiliate SBC at the same time.
  • by Emerson Willowick ( 215198 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:33AM (#844267)
    A T1 line is 1.544 megabits per second (mbps), which translates roughly into about 150 kilobytes per second (kB/s). Anyhow, like I said, I have conversed about cable with many cable customers, and 200-300 kilobytes per second (kB/s) is not unusual for them. 300 kB/s is about 3 megabits per second (mbps), which is roughly twice the 1.544 mbps speed of a T1 line.

    The difference between bits and bytes is probably what causes the confusion, which is why ISP's resorted to using megabits and kilobits in their ads instead: the numbers look bigger to customers, who think they're getting a better deal.

  • I'm not sure I see this case as much of a precedent setter. The issue boils down to a rather simple one of contract law - did SBC (ASI) guarantee a link speed that it subsequently did not deliver? if it was a failure, did it occur outside of ASI's reasonable ability to control?

    Not dissimilar to the law relating to cartage and freight hauling.

    On the other hand, the many responses here point out a more interesting telecommunications issue which very few people are tracking - That "deregulation" of the local loop has, in fact, created 4 or 5 new layers of federal and state beuracracy, in a vain attempt to promote "competition".

    The DSL issue in Houston is a perfect case in point. But to understand it, you have to know a little history about it.

    In 1996, Congress passed the "Telecom Act", which purported to do, among other things, "de-regulate and open the local loop to competition".

    Loosely translated, that means the wise denizens of Congress saw fit to repeal various provisions of the existing regulatory code that governed the RBOC's, and replace it with a new and "better" model. Essentially, they decreed that the RBOC's would henceforth become wholesalers of telecom parts (called UNE's, or un-bundled network elements). The idea being, that "CLEC's" (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers" could buy loops from the RBOC's at a wholesale price, and resell them to customers at a profit. Congress vested the responsibility for implementing this new law with the FCC - an agency of lawyers, led by commissioners who got the job out of political patronage.

    At the time, DSL was just a promising new idea, and the broadband boom hadn't started yet. So it was understood, that the loops were going to be sold as voice circuits (POTS), or dedicated DS lines (T1's, T3's, etc.)

    Congress was happy (since they could proclaim that they had brought a new age of competition), the RBOC's were happy (they still controlled their nets, and they got to get into long distance too), and the FCC was happy (lots of new regulations for the lawyers to write and argue over) and the CLECS were happy (hey! all I have to do is pass around orders in computers, and I get a nice 17% profit). Life was good.

    Of course, it took 3 years for the lawyers at the FCC to write the new rules (they have families to feed too), and in the meantime, along comes this DSL business.

    Don't kid yourself, the RBOC's hate DSL. When DSL first appeared, the RBOCs hemmed and hawed and tested the bejesus out of it, and generally kept it on the shelf, until the damned cable companies spoiled the fun, and began to sell cable modem service. Suddenly, dark clouds appeared on the RBOC horizon - the upstart cable companies were offering speeds which began to compare, and even exceed the speeds the RBOC's provided with their T1 business - a very, very lucrative portion of their business to boot. Suddenly, that $1400/mo. T1 line begins to look like a serious ripoff in the face of $40 cable connections.

    Imagine, if you will, the collective sound of the rectums of 10,000 telephone company exec's slamming shut, in one gigantic sucking motion.

    And, curse the luck, DSL companies like Covad wanted to place DSLAMs at local CO's, so they could begin selling DSL service to customers. Their own equipment!

    Try to bear in mind, that several broadband technologies now exist, using the same sort of high-frequency transmission encoding DSL does, that can send and receive data at speeds approaching 60Mbps. Kinda puts a whole new perspective on what DSL could be, doesn't it?

    The wiley RBOC's retaliated though, and began to install DSL systems in their headends just as fast as they possibly could. Way faster, in fact, than their CSR and installers could possibly keep up with.

    Now why would they do that?

    Well, I'll tell you. What you don't know, is that the FCC punted a considerable portion of the regulatory burden onto states - including certifying that the RBOC's had done all the things necessary to "enable competition" so that the RBOC's would be allowed to sell long distance service (read: make mega bucks). So, the smarty men at the baby bells took their fight to preserve T1 service to the local PUC's - in Texas, and in all the other 49 states. They required rulemakings to tell them just exactly what they needed to do to make it possible for them to "help" the CLECs connect their DSL service. And yes, i really mean *exactly*. So the PUC's all over the country are currently embroiled in proceedings to define exactly what the Bells had to do, to allow the Covads of the world to resell their local loops for DSL service. Oh, and did I mention that they installed equipment, lots of it, that ultimately limits the throughput of subscriber premises equipment to 1.5 Mbps or so?

    Smarty men indeed. they gained a couple of years, while the lawyers argue, and in the meantime protect their T1 business, while selling DSL service mostly un-molested.

    And when the dust clears, they will have a network in place that "won't support" the ultra-high bitrates of the newer HFC technology. Smart, eh?

    Of course, the DSL companies cried foul, and immediately sought to force the RBOC's to sell the "platform" (AKA UNE-P) instead of just the conditioned loops. They are currently demanding the right to install their own DLC cards at the big chassis in the local CO's, so they can offer the higher speeds now made possible, and better compete with cable, and Bell itself. Of course, Bell disagrees. Surprise! More fights.

    And that's where we are today. Our new 'de-regulated" market, is being done at the Federal, State, and local level, and the lawyers are having a feeding frenzy. In the end, who knows what we will get. Depends on who ends up out-maneuvering whom. Oh, and your DSL service will be a mere shadow of what it could be, until the dust clears.

    In the meantime, all the "exactness" the Bells wanted in determining how to allow the CLECs to resell their service has resulted in an amazing blizzard of order forms, line certifications, engineer conditioning checks, etc. etc. ad nauseum being passed between the LECs and the CLECs. That's why it takes 6 months to get your DSL hooked up. heh. -Tap

  • Those were the good old days, weren't they MrShiny? If we wanted to double our bandwith, we would layer two napkins.

    By the time that the internet pr0n picture got downloaded completely, we had plenty of napkins to.. ..agh.. "enjoy" the picture with.

  • Ahem. I have long held the view that the additional competition in DSL provision [vs. static natural monopolies r.e. cable] made it the better choice by far... But after encountering a situation in which my choices were to A: pay 150$ a month for 300Kb/s [Kb, not KB] DSL, or 39 a month for 2Mb/s cable, the choice was hard to avoid.

    I have now been using RoadRunner for several months, and honestly, have no real complaints.

    I originally thought DSL would be better because the provision for CLOC's in the telecomunications "de"regulation act of 96, while cable would remain a monopoly and thus be less efficient... But I wonder now if perhaps the opening of the door for anyone to colocate at the neighborhood switch to hook up to the termination of your POTS [copper] wires if you agreed to it, has prevented the assorted bells from rolling out the necessary infrastructure as would be needed to get backbone bandwith to the neighborhoods. After all, why invest in tech that is free to be used at near cost by others? Just a thought.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work in the Broadband Operations Department for a very large ISP. this case gains no merit whatsoever. Due to the technical problems from the NID to the CO to the ISP, you simply can't guarantee a rate like that, even if the servers are on your own network. Line and Distance issues interfere too, and as long as the judge has a [good] overview of dsl technology described, the users will be wasting their time. The article did not, however, state whether or not the speed was a provisioning issue, in which case it would be the phone co's fault and have nothing to do with the ISP.
  • Yes, DSL is more technologically advanced than cable internet, but only bgecause it has to be--it takes a lot of finessing to get high bandwidth connections over tiny little copper telephone lines. I'm waiting for RR cable service to get to my area instead of dealing with DSL precisely because I'm sure that the old copper wires in my house and stretched across the telepjone poles in my very old neighborhood won't handle DSL, and if they do it'll be at a horribly slow connection rate.

    Cable, however, has very fat pipes with almost unlimited capability for growth and carrying more bandwidth--any wires that can deliver 120 channels of full NTSC cryastal clear to my house can handle major internet bandwidth. Granted, a cable connection often offers instabilities in its bandwidth, but fluctuating between 0.75Mbps and 1.5Mbps beats the hell out of getting a steady 0.375 or 0.5Mbps. Plus, there's room for expansion in the future with cable--there's a lot of future-proofness in those fat pipes, whereas copper phone lines have to be reaching their limits sooner. It's just simple math.

  • Sure, but both times when the user base in my area's made my Road Runner hookup slow, they've upgraded the connection. I get faster downloads now than I did 18 months ago when I was almost the first person in the area with RR.
  • by ZoeSch ( 70624 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @02:14PM (#844301)
    I've worked (and keep working :) in telecoms all my life and after reading most of the comments I have some comments.

    Are you sure that they are capping bandwidth or are they congested? In the telco industry to oversubscribe (I've seen rates from 1/2 to 1/512) a service is a common practice (You usually take into account the bandwidth you have and assign a worst case scenario in which a percentage of all subscribers transmit and receive simultaneously). The bad part is that most network engineers don't take several factors into account like exactly what applications are being used. It's a lot different to oversubscribe if the final app is web browsing (Where you know that most users go to only five or six pages and you have proxies around) or Napster/FTP (Where you're going to have your bandwidth maxed for periods of time).

    Another issue, how good is their connection to the Internet backbone? How many NAP points do they have? Usually having one huge pipe to one provider (as in bbn, uunet or digex) is not enough, you need two or three in order to have some traffic balancing. Also most IEX points are congested and unfortunately most of the content seems to be placed in 2-3 major providers.

    So IMNHO I think this is a sign of poor network design as much as malice from their marketing dept.

  • IMHO - if you can get it, go RoadRunner - i have yet to have problems and it has been three months on CounterStrike bliss!

    I live in the Albany area, and have used Road Runner for a while now. I live in a house with three roommates, two of whom are hardcore geeks. We have recently subscribed to DSL, from a local provider, Speakeasy [], and are comparing the services before deciding to unsubscribe from either service.

    Road Runner has been decent, in the sense that it has been alternately horrible and wondeful. When it's working, it runs 200kBps-300kBps. (note, that's bytes, not bits. Meaning 5 seconds per MB, tops) This beats the pants off the DSL, which for a comparable price gives us exactly 60kBps all the time. However, RoadRunner has gone down rather frequently (I can't say for sure it was network outages vs. line problems, but it fixed itself after a couple hours, and regardless of the cause it was still a problem) and has recently been very unreliable, as far as speed is concerned. For the past week or two I've been getting mostly around the 5-25 kBps range.

    I'm not going to say one is better or worse, but they serve different needs. The DSL has provided us with a much more reliable connection, and allowed us 4 static IP Addresses, as well as giving us access to functons like reverse DNS. This is much better for the hardcore geeks and businesses who want to run their own email, web, ftp, etc... servers. RoadRunner, on the other hand, is much faster. It is a beautiful solution to the home recreational surfer who wants to fetch web pages and files at high speeds, but who doesn't need reliability or advanced functions, like static IPs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2000 @12:37PM (#844305)
    I was in a meeting about 6 months ago where people were joking about how long it would take for the first class action law suit over deceptive DSL advertising to show up... The throttling is done by the network design. The DSLAMs concentrate the traffic from 576 customers onto a T3 (45 mbps) line. Do the math... That comes out to about 78 kbps/customer. Far below the guaranteed rates. BTW, I have RoadRunner and will change to DSL ASAP. Despite the deceptive ads DSL is still better than a cable modem. And, I can have as many machines as I want on a DSL and I can have a server on a DSL. Things that I can't have on RoadRunner. Not to mention that RoadRunner is about to become AOL.
  • I have my DSL (silver) loop through Verizon, but I'm using a large Texas based ISP (also one of the largest commercial usenet providers) through it. With DSL, it is possible in many areas to get a loop through a ILEC (Ma Bell) and get a different ISP. As long as the ISP has the FR or ATM link to the ILEC that is possible. Most ISPs these days market their DSL with CLEC loops such as Covad or Northpoint, even though many are able to provide service with ILEC loops also.

    SBC, the San Antonio based company is currently phasing out their DHCP service in favor of PPPoE. I have heard that it has affected some current SWBell customers already (SWBell mailing out current customers with new PPPoE modems). I do not know if this affects PacBell. Because of this phase out, many ISPs are no longer able to sign up new customers to use a SWBell loop. IIRC, many ISPs provide service via NAT, static, or DHCP IP assignments. SWBell has changed their COs VPI's to a way that it will only work with PPPoE, it does not affect current SWBell loop customers running through another ISP though. Now why will it not affect current customers but not allow new customers to be signed up I don't know. are signing up new customers to use the damned PPPoE and are no longer doing DHCP. Other ISPs which do offer service in PPPoE (I don't know if FreeDSL counts, but thats one of them) are able to use SWBell's loop though. The bottom line is that but doing this, SWBell effectively forces people who are unable to get a CLEC service, to get SWBell's loop AND their ISP (there aren't many PPPoE capable ISPs).

    This practice has made a lot of people (ie: friends I know) quite upset because they can only get PPPoE and mate it with a PPPoE ISP. I don't know if the lawsuit covers this side of the issue, but it would be nice if it does. As to the ranting about the speeds, IMO, they are whining too much. IIRC SWBell does not have minimum loop guarantees, don't know about ISP though. At least with Verizon, with Silver and up, you get minimum gurantees. Most of the people I know who have SWBell loops are very happy with their speeds, they get 1.2+Mbps most of the time. The slow speeds maybe caused by a overloaded usenet server, but I don't know. The only capping I know is the upstream, 128k for the 1.5/128 and 384k for the 6M/384 service respectively. Also another thing about SBC is the nature of their ATM network; in a congested CO, a lot of packets from the ISP will be marked DE (discard enable) and get dropped in favor for someone who is paying more for their loop who get packet priority. This will result in very poor speeds due to packet retransmission until the loop is capped to a slower speed. With Verizon's FR network, they have BECNs which will be sent to the ISP telling them to throttle back and to prevent as much packet loss as possible. The nature of cable and telcos these days is to oversubscribe their service. You are paying around 40 dollars of service, and thats what you get. The "slow" speeds you get are usually still better than a dialup. The reason for this oversubcription is mostly because telcos have to cover the costs for running the network and that they want people to get a T1 from them, thats where they make the big bucks.


  • This is a civil case, not a criminal one. There is no "innocent until proven guilty."

    Basically, the jury/judge has to decide who is _more_ right, not decide whether the plaintiffs have proven that some wrongdoing occurred.
  • by Ketzer ( 207882 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @12:41PM (#844313)
    It sounds to me like what happened was that Bell decided that email and newsgroups were low-bandwidth services, and that nobody would complain if they got choked a little, so they throttled the speed down. This seems a good idea for home users, (who REALLY needs to fetch their email faster than 128kbps?) but when you have a full-fledged business, you need the bandwidth. So they got caught. Sort of.

    I suspect however, that the Houston co won't be able to prove anything, because there are 500 factors that COULD be responsible for the slow speed, and their case will fail.
  • Hi,

    I've no comment on Houston's problems, but my big bugbear at the moment is PacBell's Bay Area DSL operation (also run by SBC).

    Always up is a complete joke. Maybe once a week I cannot connect at all and maybe twice a week their DNS servers are down. Luckily I know several friendly and fast DNS servers. If I was a novice users I'd be locked out half the time.

    PPPoE is also a piece of sh*t....(apologies if it isnt the protocols fault...)

    Support contact is very difficult to obtain as well.

    If they start cutting the speeds up here that would be the end of my relationship with them.


  • Not if the tradeoff is having to live in that god-forsaken wasteland! ;-)
  • by GodRaekwon ( 224050 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:42AM (#844321)
    I've had the advertised "384kbps-1.5Mbps downstream / 128kbps upstream" DSL from PacBell for about a year now. I used to have it with the PacBell ISP, and I've often got download speeds of ~250k/sec. In other words, even beyond 1.5Mbps. Well, a few months ago I've gotten a letter in the mail from PacBell that they no longer have a choice of ISPs, and the ONLY ISP available is through SBC, to which I was automatically changed. With this new change, my downstream is FIXED at 80k/sec, I guess 640kbps or whatever. Now, I wonder if this is illegal, because it is obviously CAPPED at 640kbps. And I am paying for "384kbps-1.5MBps depending on how good your line is" deal, so if it's capped, at least they should cap it at 1.5MBps. Long story short, SBC sucks.
  • No kidding... I was able to pull over 500KB/sec downstream over RoadRunner in upstate New York, and about 50-60KB upstream. I was never bothered about the web server I had running, though a few of their techs knew it existed, and the only port they blocked was sendmail (and I believe that's a good thing, with all the spammers out there...) I'd go back to RR in a second if it was of the same quality out here.

    PacBell DSL has really disappointed me, I top out around 150KB downstream and 13.5KB upstream. I'm pretty close to the telecom too. The bandwidth and service limitations that @home imposes in the Silicon Valley area make cable a non-starter, even worse than DSL. I suppose everything, even bandwidth, is more expensive out here though :-)
  • I used to DREAM of conecting at 26400. When I was a boy I we could only connect at 1 bit/hour.. we had to scribble the bit on a napkin and trek through the freezing rain uphill to our ISP and then uphill back home. Our ping was horrible.
  • For every succesfull DSL install I have heard about or read about, there are 5 others out there that are real horror shows.

    Take my install with Fastpoint (ISP), COVAD (DSL) and Verizon (Telco). It is rapidly approaching 6 months since I originally ordered my ADSL and I have yet to get a synch up. Its not that I live in an area where DSL is impossible (at least 2 others in my neighborhood have it through COVAD). Its not the fact that Verizon is now on strike (you'd have to chop 5 months off the current install time for that to be the problem.) It definately seems to be the fact however, that a) my ISP doesn't push hard enough with installs, b) COVAD has no power over the lines they install DSL on, and c) Verizon has absolutely -zero- clue and -zero- interest in making a loop DSL ready.

    So, I certainly doubt this will be the last of the law suites we see against DSL providers. They are all making claims they can't live up to and preaching their own special versions of the truths of DSL installation (average 21 day install time my ass.)

    Anyone that is thinking about getting DSL certainly owes it to themselves to check out []. I certainly wish I had before I signed up for the install hell I've been put through. I've already completed round 1 of my complaints to both the FCC and BBB. It felt good to do it, even though I doubt it will have any real impact.
  • I regularly get 150-200k/second download speeds on my Road Runner connection. I signed up for ADSL to try it out, and not only did it take 6 hours on 2 different days to get set up, it had major reliability problems after that. And the provider only gives out internal PCI cards from Efficient Networks which only work with Windows 9x - no NT/2000, no MacOS, and definitely no Linux/BSD. Most cable modem services use an external modem with a standard 10Base-T connector.

    I think you know which of the 2 connections is getting cancelled and which one I'm keeping :)
  • Houston has just been totally screwed over. I live in Humble, just outside of Houston and near Houston Intercontinental Airport, and the ONLY local telco provider is Sprint Local Services. Nobody is planning to offer DSL in this area... We can't even get Cable because we were owned by TCI before Warner and the lines are SO terrible... I literally live 10 minutes away from all sorts of high speed access, but for the next 2 or three years at least, I won't be able to get ANY of it...
  • I helped set up multiple locations for friends when I was at school in upstate NY as well. RR there has dropped that asinine login system, and furthermore, provide up to 3 free IP addresses per modem. All you need to do to activate them is to call, and tell them that you have multiple machines. the buggers are active within a minute, and it was great.

    However, the story changes dramatically in Saint Louis area. DSL Reports [] has information on DSL in the area, and reports that DSL may be available in my area. The reality, however, is that coverage is spotty at best, and DSL is not truly available in my area. Instead, companies such as Primary Networks and other CLECs rely upon SBC to determine whether they should even send a technician out to the customer sites. It seems that these companies are spending more money on advertising DSL than implementing DSL. The site is full of horror stories regarding the slow speed in which the installation takes place, and spotty at best service record of the various ISP's and SBC.

    My coworker, who lives in Maryland Heights, MO, states that CableAmerica's cable modem service installed quickly, and he is now enjoying 500kbps downstream/128kbps upstream bandwith. This service was installed within a few days of ordering, and it went without a hitch.

    Of course, AT&T Cable does not offer a Cable Modem service where I live, so I'm pretty much SOL for broadband. Get me back to NY. PLEASE.

  • My provider here on the east coast in the New York area has asynchronous service as well. Originally I had thought that this only applied to @Home customers, but they're saying they've done it all along.

    I've managed to pull 3MB/sec down quite easily so far, but the upload speed is limited to 1MB/sec. We'll see...

    With the recent forced upgrade to the customer cable modems they've also closed the door on having multiple machines get IPs with DHCP. Now it's only one IP per modem - so they can charge you another $19.95 per month, PLUS another modem for each additional machine. I used a Netgear RT311 gateway router to get around that little SNAFU. For $100 it was a great investment.

  • You sound technically astute enough to know this, but I'll state it for anyone else who might be reading. Even if the Terms of Service for RoadRunner say you can't run multiple computers, there's really no way they can stop you. Install a LinkSys router (there's a review here []) between your computers and cable modem, and it will act as a proxy. RR will perceive the router as a single machine. Short of coming out and inspecting, RR isn't going to be able to tell how many real computers are on it. And if they give you any static, tell them it's a hardware firewall to protect you from the hordes of crackers who are trying to penetrate your system (a true claim by the way; the router can be configured to refuse all incoming connection attempts, which is a good idea). I have Cox @Home and this is exactly what I've done.
  • Oversubscription is a way of life. Cable has been reputed to not increase net pipes very often, and now it looks like DSL is going the same way. When will the "powers that be" understand that reducing bandwidth (real, perceived, or effective) will just make people dissatisfied? Is deregulation the answer? Can most people with DSL choose their provider? Not in this area... With multiple providers, one could just ditch the one with this kind of policy for another...
  • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:15AM (#844348)

    Normally, I would say shut up and get another ISP. But that's not really possible, because phone companies and cable providers have monopolies on broadband home access. And because of this, I think such a lawsuit is greatly justified.

    Although I would question how they know that their access is being slowed by the ISP. It would seem to me that it'd be very difficult to prove such a thing.

    Because things like DSL and Cable are in the infancy, this case will determine how much control an ISP actually has. This will also further determine ISP's relation as telecommunications providers.

  • Business Week had an article on this. Phone companies WILL be switching to package deals like you described within the next decade. All calls, anywhere, for any length of time, for free.

    But you have to buy a monthly or yearly package from them.

    Erik Z
  • Boy I wish people would read the article before posting...

    Now, I don't have PacBell DSL, so I'm not certain of their terms and conditions, but I can pretty much guarantee that the CIR (committed information rate) of 384kbps is to the DSLAM.

    The article states:

    SBC guarantees a minimum access rate of 384 kilobits per second for its DSL service but not for newsgroups, which are provided by SBC's Internet subsidiaries, which include Southwestern Bell, said SBC spokesman Michael Coe. Newsgroups are Internet sites where individuals can exchange and download material such as large graphic files.

    However, e-mail access is guaranteed at a minimum of 384 kilobits per second, he said.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • In the ever-expanding rush for bandwidth, this frankly doesn't surprise me very much. The demographic that DSL is marketed to right now (re: residential home (l)users with their first computer wanting to surf the Net) either wouldn't notice, wouldn't care, or wouldn't understand what's going on if someone who has half a clue wasn't poking around and running tests.

    Being a control-freak power-user myself, I'd be upset especially since many of these regions don't have any alternative to DSL. People in my neck of the woods could get cable, but this is another example of corporate strong-arming for the bottom line earnings-per-share and shareholder equity rather than customer service and quality. It's a shame.

  • I have a friend that works for PacBell installing DSL lines for residential customers in the San Joaquin Valley.

    He's been ordered by the company to cap people well under what they're paying for. Apperently if a user suspects this based on their upload/download speed Tech Support is to tell the customer that it's most likely because of the line quality inside the houes which PacBell is not responsible for.

    Apperently the only way you can accurately mesaure the speed is with a special tool the DSL installers have.

    Unfortunately my friend would not speak up since the job pays quite a lot and he's new, so he didn't want to mess with a good thing.

    My advice would be for users to actually see the measured speed the tool is reporting before signing off that the work was completed. Either way I think the lawsuit will flesh it all out.
  • Read carefully my friend "...and other factors that cannot be controlled by SBC Companies..."

    If they intentionally slowed down service then these factors can obviously be controlled by SBC and are not subject to that agreement.

  • Using their search engine I was unable to find the notice you quoted on the web site - has it been taken down?

    It is one thing for them to be capped by equipment limitations - it is something entirely else for them to put an arbitrary announced cap on speeds.

    Can you provide a better link to what they said?

  • They have? Here (southern california, USA) we get 3Mbit down and 256kbit up. But since the GI SB3100 cable modem uses compression, you can get higher (Ive actually gotten 10Mbit down and 800Kbit up. The modem will do 39Mbit down, but the the 10BT port kinda cuts it.) Also, in september they (local cable company) will be releasing Cox@Work which is designed for buissness. 10 Mbit each way, the "modem" is a cisco router and you can run all the servers you want. If only i could afford it ($250/mo is the estimated price)

    Mark Duell
  • It's what you do with it.

    Really, though. This article doesn't explore in-depth the 'tests' he ran to determine he was being cheated for bandwidth.

    Since SBC uses an ATM fabric all the way out to their DSL modems, it is possible to assign priority to different types of traffic. SO, it
    is not a question of COULD SBC be doing this, but ARE they doing it?

    The question to me is a matter of physical bandwidth vs. logical bandwidth. After all, the customer can still pass 384K of traffic, but there's nothing in the guarantee that says SBC's news servers must be able to support twenty-thousand users hitting them at 384K at the same time.

    Good customer service would dictate that they attempt to keep up and provide servers which can handle the traffic. However, I think it would be terribly hard to PROVE that news bandwidth was being intentionally limited at the customer end. I'm not saying it COULDN'T be limited there, just that it could be limited elsewhere without technically violating the agreement. I would really appreciate more detailed information about the supposed 'tests' that have determined this.
  • Does anyone out there believe that any of the Bell companies will give the service they prove? Does anyone need proof anymore to prove what these people are up to?

    In Portland, OR there is a system where if a police officer suspects someone is selling drugs, he can ban him from the area where he is suspected of selling drugs with absolutly no proof . Now, some people might think this is a bad idea, but what I really think is that it needs to be expanded.

    Everyone knows that the telephone companies cheat their customers every chance they get. It's accepted and agreed upon that this is the normal state of affairs. So why even go through the legal formalities of it. What we need is a law that anytime a Bell Company is accused of cheating their customers, the lawsuit is automatically found in favor of the plaintiffs, without legal formalities.

  • Depends where you are using RoadRunner.

    Northeast Ohio (NEO) Roadrunner is notorious for inconsistent performance, overselling bandwidth, and poor support.

    The USENET server is usually either slower than a one-legged man in a marathon, or up and down more than a Catholic at Mass. Recently they changed the local roadrunner.* news hierarchy to roadrunner.neo.*, and didn't bother to tell their customers until a week later. These things usually prompt serious USENET users to subscribe to a third-party service, which adds $10-$15 a month to the old internet(re: crack) habit.

    The mail-server goes through spells of can't send, can't receive, or speed that makes you feel that you could fetch the mail faster if you ran to the server and personally carried each byte home separately.

    They have a network status page that they never use. I guess whoever created it didn't want to mess up their pretty new web page with things like system and service outages.

    The no-help desk is broken into 3 groups. You must pass through each group sequentially.

    Local: Can ask 3 questions:
    1. Is your cable light on the modem on?
    2. Is your pc light on the modem on?
    3. Would you like hot, tasty beverage?
    (Actually I can't remember #3. But it's just as inane)

    Doesn't have access to our local network, so they can't verify any problems. They know a lot more questions, but only have 1 answer: Let's remove your TCP/IP stack and re-install it.

    Local w/Intelligence Upgrade:
    This group actually knows WTF is going on. The problem is, it took 3 to 5 days to get to this group.

    Don't ask how much packet loss we've been enduring lately. I'm to the point now that I've given up on-line gaming.

    All these things from a service that has been running for 4 years. That's right, to my knowledge, NEO RoadRunner was the first commercial rollout of cable-modem broadband internet access in the USA. I believe the beta-test was in Ithaca, NY.

    Time-Warner Cable at it's best.

  • In this particular case, I would suspect that isn't smart enough to throttle capacity at the mail or news servers (though I suppose they could, using Packeteer or some such). It's much more likely that these servers themselves have a poor connection to the backbone, and congestion is causing delays.

    Here in Silicon Valley, I've had my DSL for about 1.5yrs. When I first signed up, everything was through PacBell, both the line and the ISP. Then a couple months ago I got a letter saying that my DSL service had been taken over by SBC communications. Three weeks after that letter I got another one saying that access to mail servers and newsgroups would be limited to 128k. So it's not really a matter of congestion [other than that's why they are limiting it]. They are really throttling it.

    So does the suit have merit? Unclear. Unless SBC advertised a guaranteed service speed for the mail and news services, I would doubt it

    I'd have to say no, the suit doesn't have merit. The DSL company guarantees X-bandwidth between your house and their 'house'. They don't [and CANNOT] guarantee connection speeds to specific internet servers.They never guaranteed speed to their mail or news servers, only the speed of the line to the CO.

    On that note, I'm a bit pissed at SBC already. For the 1+ years I had the DSL handled by PacBell, I got 1+Mb down/128 up. [I pay for only 384 down/128 up]... As soon as they switched to SBC, my downlink dropped to 800Kb... yeah I know thats still alot, and more than I'm guaranteed but after a year of near T1 speeds it still sucks.
    They also have screwed up my billing. They credited me for 1 month of service then billed me for 4 months of service that I had already paid for. My last bill was $250, without long distance [DSL charges just come in on my phone bill]. I'm still trying to get that one taken care of.


  • I have hit 400kps, but its very inconsistent. And the downtime is horrible.... the cable modem goes down several times a day, sometimes for just a few seconds, sometimes for over a day. I'd rather have 128kps DSL that worked and was consistent, rather than cable modem going up & down more often than a Viagra addict.
  • What defines their central office?

    Do they only guarantee their bandwidth to the local central office or router?

    For example, my university gives 10mbit access to all students, but the students eventually share the same pipe(s) that go out to the internet.

    I can get 10mbit/second internally, but if the university guarantees (money back of course) that i can get 10mbit outside of the network, then i *want* it.

    If they don't guarantee 10mbit outside the university network, then so be it..

    Back to the real world: if you guarantee everyone gets 384kb/sec to the central office, so what. Any provider can do that and still not have enough to go *outside* the central office.

    I wish @home would guarantee a rate as well, since inside the @home network (same city for example) I get worse rates than fast sites such as wuarchive, sunsite, etc.

  • While DSL does guarantee bandwidth from the central office to the subscriber, bandwidth beyond that point is shared by everyone who uses the telco as their ISP.

    It is possible to use the SBC DSL link and use another ISP as the link to the internet. Often this will result in higher effective bandwidth.

    Most likely the email rate the complainant measured was the result of server load - rather than a bandwidth limitation. (It also makes a difference what time of day speeds are measured; the heavier the traffic the slower the shared connection runs.

  • The problem is, how are the customers going to prove that SBC intentionally lowered their speed? They can always claim the network is overloaded, etc. I've always found that SWB is pretty good at dodging the bullet.

  • by Kailden ( 129168 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:18AM (#844385) Journal
    DSL = Damn Slow Line.

    at least in this case.
  • in my dealings with SBC they were overwhelmed - and i believe this is partly due to their own errors. the campaign of offering free installation drove SBC in Houston to being 2 months behind on appointments - when they finally called to confirm that i still had an appointment, i had already been using RR for a month!

    so i guess it would not be that odd to find that SBC is having rate problems and that in some managers short-sightedness they might have capped the rates. as i understand it, breaking out the line at the router is expensive and time consuming, of course, SBC is a big ass Co.

    IMHO - if you can get it, go RoadRunner [] - i have yet to have problems and it has been three months on CounterStrike bliss!

  • by rockwall ( 213803 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @11:20AM (#844391)
    While I understand how the plaintiffs feel in this case, and intentionally lowering speeds might not be a nice thing for a DSL company to do, I can't see how a suit like this could be taken seriously. Has a law been passed that I'm not familiar with which outlaws such an action? If people aren't happy with their DSL service, why can't they just switch providers?
  • "who REALLY needs to fetch their email faster than 128kbps"
    (did you leave out news on purpose ?)

    Uhmm. Are you THIS naive ? Yes, I dont care how much DELAY I have on my eMail connection (up to a point -- 1500ms is my pers. max), but 128kbps just doesnt cut it. Even if you DONT have a business, 128kbps can be very restricting.

    If a friend sends me his birthday pictures in eMail (and he makes LOTS of those), and I get a neat array of 20 mails 2meg each, I EXPECT to be served faster than 128kbps if my pipe allows it. This is one extreme. Another would be that youre subscribed to a few high volume mailinglists (say, securityfocus.*, and a few groups on onelist or egroups) ... Not everybody is, but those who are want their conn to be able to keep up with the steady flow of mails coming in without overloading their POP3-box.

    Who /ever/ thought of eMail as being low throughput ? Or even low priority ? High delay may be acceptable if the bandwidth keeps (dont go too high or your kernel TCP buffers will choke).

    As for news being low bandwidth -- uhm. Please. They may be high latency and low priority, but theyre not low throughput. Right now Im getting fed news 24/7. If I had more bandwidth, Id still be fed news 24/7. Even if you only subscribe to a few binary groups you can get that much -- let alone a few high volume groups. And no, not only pr0n, although thats why many people get DSL these days ;->

    Being a business has nothing to do with the need of bandwidth, though. I could saturate a T3 without being a business if I wanted to. If I pay for 384kbit/sec, I damn well know why I pay for it -- otherwise an ISDN link or even an analog link would just be fine for me.
  • fuck verizon (formerly known as bell atlantic)
  • by PD ( 9577 )
    > I praise the Sun god "Ra" every day

    Me too!

    Sun God, Sun God, Ra! Ra! Ra!

    He likes that one.
  • by RebornData ( 25811 ) on Friday August 18, 2000 @01:07PM (#844398)
    Last time I checked, the SBC DSL offering in Houston was for 384 (minimum) downstream (up to 1.5MB/s, if you had a good line), and 128 fixed upstream.

    Note this is the guaranteed rate from your premesis to the local SWBell CO. There, you get patched onto SWBell's local ATM service, which connects you to the "ISP" part of their business.

    It sounds like these people are complaining specifically that they are only getting 128kb/s mail and newsgroup access. They don't complain about web access speed. This definitely would be feasible- SWBell could run newsgroup and mail access over different ATM virtual circuits, which would enable them to easily throttle bandwidth to different services they please.

    I doubt they'll win the case- I'm guessing the SBC / SWBell service agreement doesn't make any guarantee about newsgroup or mail access speed. It seems a little nitpicky to me- you'd have to be doing some serious binary newsgroup stuff to have 128kb/s be an issue. Given how much more easily available pron is on the web, I'm not sure there there are many people would notice or care about this.

    However, I'm not going to defend SBC's exploitation of vagueness in their terms of service... they need to be up-front about what they're doing. I judge this kind of thing by the "principal of least suprise"- you need to be explicit about things that are contrary to the natural assumptions people are likely to make. Given unspecified service terms, I don't think very many people would assume that newsgroups or e-mail would be bandwidth-limited.

    BTW- I was an SBC ADSL customer for a year prior to moving to another city, and frankly I miss it. They were early on their install date (this was 18 months ago) and I was getting consistent 1 Mb/s, right on the fringe of the 12,000 ft ADSL limit. I'm not aware of any outages during the time I used it, and I was hosting a mailing list server on it full-time. I'm now in a neighborhood in Atlanta where my only choices are Northpoint (expensive, lower bandwidth) or Bell South (crappy service). Sigh...
  • Lawyers love class action suit: million plantiffs each getting $10. Total to lawyer: one third of the TOTAL $10,000,000. Sweet deal for the lawyer!
  • by satch89450 ( 186046 ) on Saturday August 19, 2000 @04:06PM (#844412) Homepage

    I was the first paying customer of DSL in Northern Nevada. I'm happy with the final-mile portion. Words cannot describe my dissatisfaction with the ISP portion of the service -- I was overpaying at $10/month. Further, when I disconnected from the ISP I got a larger bill from them. I'm taking action, though, as described at the end of this screed.

    I didn't wait for the lawsuits to start before I decided to do something about the problem. When several local ISPs got their ATM connections up and running here in Northern Nevada, I switched.

    Oh, the complaint list is a long one:

    1. The PacBell mail servers were listed by ORBS for spam mail. When I found my access was blocked to several University sites, I called tech support to complain. Rather than make their large leased-line customers adhere to the then-in-effect Terms of Service agreement, the tech support people suggest I sue ORBS!
    2. I was administratively blocked from SBC newsservers. This condition lasted for more than a month before I pulled the plug. Before that, message propagation sucked -- many news postings that were courtesy-mailed to me never appeared on SBC's newsservers! (Another "satisfied" PacBell user has been regularly posting news server performance on comp.dcom.xdsl.)
    3. During the 1999 Labor Day weekend, I discovered that I was disconnected from the West coast, mostly the San Francisco Bay Area. I spent nearly $100 to discover the source of the problem: a management dispute at a peering point. The peer to PBI was advertising routes to the West coast, but not honoring the presentation of packets. I was forced to bring up a modem connection to Concentric (where I have a dial-up account) and set up a static route for San Francisco locations. Calls to PBI technical support were met with "Sorry, but all the network people are on vacation." Service to the West coast returned on the Tuesday following the holiday -- not Monday.
    4. Outgoing mail was sent to non-ORBS sites at 70-80 percent reliability. When I configured Sendmail on a local Linux box and started routing my mail through that, my transmission reliability jumped to over 95 percent -- lost mail was a rare exception indeed. And when I used my own MTA, the ORBS problem went away completely!
    5. Incoming mail failed more often than succeeded during my initial tests, so I kept my Concentric mail subscription.
    6. Tech support phone hold times averaged 40 minutes and peaked at over 100 minutes. Tech response times (other than the automated autoresponse) required three days. My mail and newsserver problems were not resolved from January to March. Even when I went through the Product Manager for Advanced Data Services at Nevada Bell I got nothing. (The gentleman I was talking with said that "those decisions are made in Texas" referring to SBC's main offices.)

    I switch services on March 6, 2000, to an outfit called Pyramid.Net -- and I've been happy with the switch. Things haven't been perfect, but when I call things get fixed. Period.

    SBC isn't finished with me yet!I used to be billed $39 for the DSL service and $10 for ISP service. When the total charges went up I took a closer look at my phone bill. There was the DSL charge of $39, which was correct. What wasn't correct was a charge by "Nevada Bell Internet Services" of just under $29.95 for ISP service I wasn't receiving. I never had a dial-up account, yet when I fired NBIS they "converted" my account to a dial-up account...without authorization. I reported the problem in June and again in July. Nevada Bell (the telephone company) says they can't do anything about it because NBIS is a separate company.

    Indeed it is a separate company! It isn't listed anywhere -- not in directory service for California, Nevada, or Texas, not in the telephone books, not even on! I even called the main customer numbers for Pacific Bell (CA) and Nevada Bell (NV) and they had no record of an address or phone number other than the 800 number that I had already unsuccessfully dealt with. When I spent a day tracking down exactly what was going on, I found that all four Internet Service companies in SBC-land are serviced from a single office in San Francisco! And the dispute resolution? That's with Pacific Bell. In San Francisco. California. WHERE I DON'T LIVE.

    Now, it's almost the end of August, and the bill dispute is still unresolved.

    But that's all right. Because of electrical deregulation here in Nevada, there is a PUCN docket item investigating utility billing and payment practices for all utilities here in the State of Nevada. I am registered on that docket. My input, based on this experience, is simple:any utility that places a charge on a bill needs to be responsible for the charge, have authority to take action on the charge including reversal instantly, and be accountable for the charge. When a charge is disputed, it is removed and the third-party billing company has to deal directly with the customer.

  • The central office is defined as the building that services your phone lines. Basically all the phone lines in a particular area are "pulled" back to one location, that's the central office. Those phone lines are then muxed and then trunked around to other central offices or to other PSTN networks.

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.