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@Home Network Approaching Shutdown 797

David Harris writes: "A bankruptcy court ruled today that the @Home network will be shutdown at midnight, unless the company reaches new deals with its cable partners and creditors. The decision is a victory for bondholders, owed $750 million by Excite@Home, whose motion asked the court to shutdown the network on grounds that AT&T's $307 million offer to acquire @Home's broadband network is not adequate and fair value for the network could only be found if a shutdown was forced." Read about it on excite.com, while you can. CNet has a good analysis of where things stand. 45% of the cable modem users in North America! Ouch.
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@Home Network Approaching Shutdown

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  • First Post (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sunken Kursk ( 518450 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:09PM (#2638613) Homepage
    And probably last post since I'm an @home subscriber. My e-mail is already toast!
    • Re:First Post (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Raven42rac ( 448205 )
      My latest Email:

      Dear Cox @ Home Customer:

      As you know from our previous emails, Excite @ Home, our vendor in delivering
      your Cox @ Home service, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection at the end
      of September. We have endeavored to keep you informed of the potential impact
      this Bankruptcy could have on your Cox @ Home service and are writing to you
      today to provide the latest information we have available.

      First, we want you to know that we are committed to providing you uninterrupted
      high speed Internet service. Cox Communications has been working diligently in
      negotiations with Excite @ Home and using all legal avenues available to protect
      you, our valued customer. Meanwhile, we have been forging ahead with our
      plans to deliver reliable high speed Internet service to you on our Cox-managed
      network. You will soon be receiving additional information about our new Cox
      High Speed Internet(sm) service, along with information to help you convert to this
      new service.

      The latest developments with Excite @ Home:

      This month, Excite @ Home's creditors petitioned the Bankruptcy court with a
      motion to allow Excite @ Home to terminate service agreements with its cable
      affiliates on November 30th. This includes agreements with Cox, Comcast and
      AT&T. If the Court grants the creditors' request, there conceivably could be a
      temporary disruption in the services that Excite @ Home provides to
      approximately 3.7 million customers served by its North American cable affiliates.
      We are doing everything possible to see that there will not be a disruption in your
      service, but also want you to understand the possibilities and to be prepared:

      *If the Judge's ruling states that Excite @ Home may terminate its service
      agreements with Cox and the other cable affiliates, this does not mean that
      Excite @ Home will automatically turn off the service on November 30th.
      *With the Judge's approval, Excite @ Home would then have the ability to make
      a decision on termination; however, we are negotiating with them to prevent any
      service disruption.
      *If Excite @ Home decides to terminate service despite our efforts to negotiate a
      temporary arrangement, the question remains as to when the service would be
      terminated. We are doing everything we can to ensure that your Cox @ Home
      service continues until we can transition you to our new Cox-managed Internet
      service. In short, we are doing our best to make sure that you will never be
      without high speed Internet service.

      Additional help Cox is providing:

      In addition to exercising legal avenues, negotiating with Excite @ Home, and
      building our own high speed Internet service, Cox is also offering the following to
      help you and to keep you informed during this transitional period:

      Toll Free Customer Information Line (1-877-832-4751). You can call in for
      the latest updates as we work to quickly resolve any service issues.
      Website Message Center at Cox.com/info
      http://uuhttp.flonetwork.com/cgi-bin3/flo?y=eJIF 0C 8sRW0B460ork0AF
      We will provide online updates and a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section to
      address your concerns.
      Automatic Account Credits. We will credit your account automatically for
      service and leased equipment so that you are reimbursed for any time you
      are without service.
      Free, temporary dial-up Internet access. In the unlikely event that you
      should experience a service disruption, we have arranged for temporary
      dial-up access to the Internet via NetZero(R). In order to take advantage of
      this precautionary option, please see the "What Should I be Doing Right
      Now" section that follows.

      Cox has a long history of outstanding service in your community. We pride
      ourselves on providing high quality products and the best customer service.
      Please know that we are committed to our customers and understand the
      extent to which you enjoy the services we provide. We recognize that you
      have a choice in service providers and we will continue to do our best to
      remain your choice now and in the future. In advance, we apologize for any
      inconvenience that the Bankruptcy of our vendor Excite @ Home may cause

      Stay tuned for more details, and thank you for choosing Cox.


      The Cox High-Speed Internet Team
      Cox Communications, Inc.


      What Should I be Doing Right Now?
      1. Check your Cox @ Home email daily. Opened messages will be saved
      automatically to your hard drive.
      2. Download free dial-up Internet software. In the unlikely event that Excite
      @ Home terminates your service, you would lose connectivity to the Internet and
      access to your Cox @ Home services such as email and webspace. We do not
      recommend that you install the software at this time, just download the software
      and save it so that it may be installed should you have an interruption in service.
      In order to restore access to the Internet and to set up a temporary email
      address, we recommend that you register for dial-up service via NetZero and
      download the necessary software. You will not be able to download the software
      from your home after your Internet service has already been disrupted. While a
      free dial-up connection is not ideal, it will give you temporary access to the
      Internet for surfing, making transactions, etc. However, you will not be able to
      access your Cox @ Home email accounts while the service is shut down. For
      information on how to download this software, please visit Cox.com/info
      http://uuhttp.flonetwork.com/cgi-bin3/flo?y=eJIF 0C 8sRW0B460ork0AF
      3. Back up your personal web page to your hard drive or to a CD. (This is a
      good precautionary measure to follow at any time.)
      4. In the unlikely event that there is a disruption in service, keep your cable
      modem connected to your PC until service is restored.
      5. Watch for more information from Cox on the transition of your service to
      Cox High Speed Internet. At such time that you can make the transition to our
      new service, Cox will be providing you with all of the information you need to make
      your transition as smooth as possible.

      I'm digging out my external modem as we speak. I hope they figure this out, because I do not know what I will do without my cable modem and /.

      Mo Bandwidth. Mo Problems.
  • Nooooo! (Score:4, Troll)

    by }InFuZeD{ ( 52430 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:12PM (#2638626) Homepage
    I won't be able to read Slashdot tommorow!

    *goes and collapses on the floor*
  • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:14PM (#2638650)
    Wouldn't shutting down the service be a bad move for both sides? The bond holders would be left with what could be scavenged out of a sale of the company while the cable companies are left with a lot of unhappy customers. I think at minimum a short term deal will be struck so that they can continue to negotiate.
    • by lizrd ( 69275 ) <adam@bu[ ]us ['mp.' in gap]> on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:27PM (#2638752) Homepage
      It's extortion. AT&T made an offer to buy the network from excite@home and the bond holders didn't think that it was high enough. They think that AT&T or some other entity who has an interest in having the network operational will make a better offer when they are under a more real threat of having the network turned off.
      • It's extortion. AT&T made an offer to buy the network from excite@home and the bond holders didn't think that it was high enough. They think that AT&T or some other entity who has an interest in having the network operational will make a better offer when they are under a more real threat of having the network turned off.
        cNet [cnet.com] says "Attorneys for the bondholders insist that cable companies are playing a 'game of chicken,'"

        Seems to me the bondholders are the ones playing chicken. I don't get it: "The network is worth more than you're offering. Pay us more or at midnight the network goes down!" "OK, fine, shut it down; then the network will be worth zero." Seems to me the bondholders made a bad investment and are trying to get their money back. That's the risk they took; they should be big boys and take their lumps, like everyone else who lost on the .com bubble burst. 30 cents on the dollar is better than nothing.

        Funny how not too long ago the cable companies said they couldn't possibly allow competition, that @Home was the only game allowed. Too bad they didn't listen to us customers and allow us to choose our own ISP.

      • It's not just that the "bond holders didn't think it was high enough" ...It really *is* extortion -- what you're not hearing on the gnus is that AT&T is the largest shareholder of @Home and they certainly had a lot to gain by lowballing their bid. AT&T is on both sides and is trying to get itself a sweetheart deal.

        I don't blame the bondholders for being upset!

        BTW -- I'm not biased, I have @Home via Comcast and will likely get shut off if they don't come to an agreement.
      • and you know what...
        AT&T couldnt care less, if they couldn't buy it for the offer made then screw em.

        They've already got a replacement in place and ready to go tonight. Hmmm att.net will be a nice email address.
    • by Phil Wherry ( 122138 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:37PM (#2638812) Homepage
      Well, it's definitely a bad move for the consumer, but it's pretty clear that the consumer hasn't been an especially high priority in the broadband industry for a while now. It's fairly telling when the cable companies are the customer service leaders.

      I think occasional massive hiccups like this (and the Northpoint DSL debacle that preceded it) are part of the price of an unregulated industry. We'd see this same kind of brinksmanship and the same sort of politically or financially motivated service outages from our telephone service providers were it not for regulations mandating a scheme of interconnection and settlement fees. But does anyone really want that same sort of regulatory scheme for broadband? I might change my mind later, but it seems like the occasional outage like this one might be the lesser of two pretty big evils.
      • But does anyone really want that same sort of regulatory scheme for broadband?

        I don't know. We've kind of become conditioned to think of government regulation as evil until proven otherwise, but as a former telco guy (I worked at Intermedia Communications, now a part of BorgCom, for five years), there are two things I'd observe:

        • The deregulation of the telco industry in 1996 was supposed to lead to greater choice and lower prices. By and large it's led to much less choice as companies started frantically merging with one another, and it hasn't really led to lower prices, either. Long-distance has come down, and indeed it came down due to market forces--but those market forces exist because of two things: the shift toward data-centric backbones, and the effect of my second point, which is:
        • What choice you do have in selecting phone companies comes about solely because of government mandates, not deregulation. Your local loop--the "last mile," as it's often called--is owned by a local phone company, and they would not be providing access to that loop to their competitors unless they were forced to.

        Honestly, I think "as little regulation as necessary to work" is a laudable goal in nearly any case--but sometimes a little regulation makes the market work better. If cable companies were forced to open their data lines to any local ISPs willing to pay reasonable rates ("reasonable" being roughly defined as "a price which still lets them be competitive with an ISP owned by the cable company itself"), I suspect it would be much better for consumers, better for competing ISPs--and probably ultimately better for cable companies, too.

    • The bond holders would be left with what could be scavenged out of a sale of the company while the cable companies are left with a lot of unhappy customers

      Well, speaking as a Cox customer in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, I think this rocks. I hate @Home ever since they blocked incoming ports 80 and 25. This allows Cox to work a different deal on Internet access. Cox has already been sending out e-mails stating that they have been making other arrangements to provide Internet access.

      Everyone I've talked to at Cox has been pretty cool, but they have been at the mercy of the upstream.

      • @Home never blocked ports 80/25. (I have Comcast@Home, and those ports never stopped working. A co-worker has ATT@Home, and they still work for him too)

        In other words, it was Cox that blocked your ports, and I betcha they will be blocked with Cox after they are on thier own network.

        In other words, you ain't gainin' nuttin'...

  • As seen on Excite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:15PM (#2638651) Journal
    Assuming that they will go off the air at mignight, here is the official announcement from Excite:
    ExciteAtHome Cleared to Disconnect
    Updated: Fri, Nov 30 3:46 PM EST

    A judge cleared the way for bankrupt ExciteAtHome to turn off its high-speed Internet cable service as early as Friday night, which could affect about 4 million subscribers around the country.

    The cable companies that connect their customers to the high-speed network said they plan to appeal the decision to U.S. District Court in San Francisco as soon as possible.

    Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Carlson said Redwood City-based ExciteAtHome could reject its existing contracts with the cable companies as early as 3 a.m. EST Saturday, when their contracts expire.

    Carlson gave ExciteAtHome the leeway to end the contracts after concluding they had become "clearly burdensome" to the company.

    Under the contracts, ExciteAtHome executives said the company was losing up to $6 million per week.

    A burnrate of 6 million per week is not good.

    Someone grab a screen shot for the dot-bomb museum, please.

    • Re:As seen on Excite (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Freak ( 16973 ) <prius@driver.mac@com> on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:24PM (#2638732) Journal
      ...here is the official announcement from Excite:

      Um, no. Just because it's on excite.com, doesn't make it official. It's actually an AP (Associated Press) newswire story that just about every news web site carries. It just so happens that Excite has a news web site (news.excite.com) that carried the story. It is exactly the same as when the cable television station MSNBC does a story on Microsoft. It's not an official statement from Microsoft, it's just a news organization reporting on a company, that, by coincidence, happens to be its parent company.

    • Under the contracts, ExciteAtHome executives said the company was losing up to $6 million per week.
      What were they spending that much money on? Advertizing? Server leases? Electricity? It certainly wasn't on admins or tech support!

      • I'd assume that a large portion of that is for bandwidth. I know I regularly pull down ~15Gig a week since I got Road Runner over a year ago (no, I'm not a porn hound, I do a lot of off-site backups to my machine). And that figure doesn't count all the stuff that comes down from news groups (that's where the porn comes in ;) because I'm assuming that my connection to their news servers only traverses their internal network.

        The rest of the money is probably spent on their internal data lines connecting POPs, devaluation of hardware, facilities costs, insurance, support /administrative /billing /sales staff wages and benefits, etc. It could add up to quite a bit.

        We really take cable ISP's for granted. For $40 a month, it's a deal that nobody who wants fast access could pass up.
        • Re:As seen on Excite (Score:3, Informative)

          by tzanger ( 1575 )

          The rest of the money is probably spent on their internal data lines connecting POPs, devaluation of hardware, facilities costs, insurance, support /administrative /billing /sales staff wages and benefits, etc. It could add up to quite a bit.

          Devaluation of equipment? Are you serious?

          I do the network admin / deployment at a small (1600 user) ISP. We run around like crazy looking for "ancient" AS5200s because they just plain work. We get 47 lines out of each one (bastards made us use PRIs instead of DEAs so now we "retaliated" by asking for NFAS) and once configured, they just work.

          I can't imagine cable being much different: You have your super-expensive head-end for each trunk, and once it is configured, you leave it be. Keep some parts around or, if you've got the cash, a hot spare and your equipment doesn't change. It doesn't devaluate in the sense that it wears out. Your bandwidth costs will be through the roof, yes, but that's what the economy of volume does for you. You have a 30MBit pipe for each trunk, a killer web cache and maybe 155MBit upstream. (I'm guessing here: Bell Canada's HSE (DSL) internet bandwidth overcommit rates being > 100:1, cable's can't be that far off)

          The point is that yes the equipment is expensive and the bandwidth is expensive. But the equipment doesn't wear out. I'm sure you can get some pretty sweet deals on bandwidth when you tell your provider that you want enough feeds to service a nation. It had to have been mismanaged. This kind of story isn't new; this particular one just happens to have hit a hell of a lot of people at once.

    • A burnrate of 6 million per week is not good.

      Well, that's over 4 million subscribers -- $1.50 per subscriber per week. Would the subscribers not be willing to absorb a price increase of what amounts to a cup of coffee per week to keep their cable modem service? And any more than that, say $2.00 per week, would be a $100 million per year profit. Sure you might lose a few but most would probably pay -- I mean what's the alternative?

      • Re:As seen on Excite (Score:2, Interesting)

        by spudnic ( 32107 )
        My Road Runner connection went up $4 a couple of months ago. While I never like to see increases, I was more than happy to pay the difference. As long as I see that the value to me exceeds the cost I'll stick with them.

  • The thing that trips me out is that I paid @home in advance through the end of
    January. I hope Cox doesn't go down but I am definately going to be asking for
    service interruption remebursments.

  • by TheViffer ( 128272 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:15PM (#2638655)
    is going back on there word. [home.com] It can't be!

    starts looking in the back side of computer boxes to figure our which one has the modem installed

  • This is logical (Score:4, Interesting)

    by locust ( 6639 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:16PM (#2638658)
    I love the logic, the moment @home shuts down it won't be just hemoraging cash. It will be hemoraging users too. Once those users find alternative service, they won't go back to @home unless @home makes them a really sweet deal. That will just make the cost of starting back up even higher.

    Time to starting looking for a new provider.


  • It's a shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M_Talon ( 135587 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:16PM (#2638659) Homepage
    I do feel bad because I have a lot of friends who don't have land-based phone lines anymore. They switched to cable for the computer and cell phones for phone use. If their service lapses, they're going to be SOL.

    I don't see any reason why Excite won't kill the service tonight. They've got nothing to lose, since they're already bankrupt. Shutting off service just stems the bleeding. The other companies are going to get hurt by this, and it's going to put high-speed internet access in a bad light.

    But, I guess this is what happens when one company controls the lion's share of internet access. Back in the day of local ISP's, one of them going under wasn't the end of the world. Can you imagine what would happen if AOL or MSN turned off their service? (and yes, I'm bloody well expecting a smartaleck response there).

    I'm just glad I never got rid of my dial up access. I have the feeling my friends are going to be coming over to get their net fix during the outage.
  • I dont see (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Heem ( 448667 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:18PM (#2638679) Homepage Journal
    I dont see how shutting something down is a victory for anyone. So they owe 750 million bucks. When they stop getting 45% of the cable modem users ~$50 a month, they are still gonna be 750 million in debt, with no income. I dont understand. Of course, IANAA (i am not an accountant)

  • by ApoxyButt ( 536650 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:18PM (#2638684) Homepage Journal
    I'm a bit confused... if you signed up through AT&T for @Home access, does that mean you're losing your service with excite's expiration? My parents have AT&T@Home service, and I'm worried that this'll stop the flow of virally infected email that lets me know my Dad's still alive.
    • Yes. The way it works is alot like DSL. You get the physical line through the carrier (For DSL, it would be your local telephone company, such as Qwest, Verizon, Bell South, etc. For Cable, it would be AT&T, Cox, Comcast, etc.) but you get the internet service through the ISP. For DSL, you generally have your choice of ISPs (Most telcos have their own, plus EarthLink, DirecTV, and lots of local ISPs offer DSL service.) For Cable, you only have one choice. If you have AT&T cable, your only ISP choice is Excite@Home. They brand the service as AT&T@Home, Cox@Home, Comcast@Home, etc.. based on your cable company.
    • by Xibby ( 232218 ) <zibby+slashdot@ringworld.org> on Friday November 30, 2001 @07:12PM (#2639053) Homepage Journal
      Will I experience any interruptions with my AT&T Broadband high-speed cable Internet service?
      Your AT&T Broadband high-speed cable Internet service connectivity, e-mail and Personal Web pages will not be affected by Excite@Home's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. However, your home.excite.com home page may become temporarily unavailable.

      What will happen to my high-speed cable Internet service if AT&T Broadband's proposal to purchase the Excite@Home network is not approved?
      If the proposal to purchase the Excite@Home network is not approved, your home page content may be temporarily unavailable, but you will still have access to your e-mail and the Internet.
    • Actually, I have a bit of information regarding the @home shutdown. I work for a regional ISP that has business relations with Cox Communications.

      Cox has told us that this could potentially lead to chaos on the internet, not only because @home is a major cable internet provider, but also because they have one of the more large national backbones on the internet. However, Cox customers may not have to worry because they have been provisioning the use of other backbones so that their customers would have minimal downtime.

      In the end, this may affect a large portion of internet services such as DNS and email. Inappropriate routes may still exist that relay through the @home network, even after the network is shutdown

      My employer uses Cox for fibre T1's so we have been advised that such services may not work properly, until this situation is resolved. But for most end-users the result may be serious lag times until certain services get re-routed through other backbones.

  • If you are an AT&T customer that used to have mediaone/roadrunner, you aren't going to get shut down. AT&T sent me some snail mail about possibly loosing the "Excite@Home homepage" which is what they want to make your default homepage when they install. I can't say I care at all...

  • Their own fault (Score:5, Informative)

    by evenprime ( 324363 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:20PM (#2638703) Homepage Journal
    If they were a little more reasonable about their terms of service, they could have charged a little more. I would gladly have paid a small fee for the opportunity to run my own web server, or to talk to tech support people who didn't think my problems were due to not running windows. I moved to speakeasy [speakeasy.net] because I wanted a more freedom about what to do with my computers and didn't want to be treated like a clueless luser by people who naturally assume that if it is not windows, it is broken
  • Seems your @Home hosted pages might go down indefinately but AT&T claims no connectivity outtages no matter what happens. Details here: http://help.broadband.att.com/faq.jsp?content_id=1 118
  • Why don't WE buy it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bitmanhome ( 254112 ) <bitman&pobox,com> on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:22PM (#2638718)
    We have 4 million users .. if each one sent me $100, we'd have more than AT&T's bid. And for $250, we'd have a billion, which not only covers @home's debt, but is likely WAY more than AT&T wants to spend.

    Would you pay $250 for a share of your own cablenet company?

    • Not if it was losing money hand over fist.
    • Seriously ... why don't we buy it? Is it because there are too many factions of geeks (seperated by OS, creed, nationality, spirituality, etc.)in the world today? Have the geeks simply lost the true revolutionary spirit? Is this the chance for [sic] world domination [/sic] that we've all joked about for years?

      If you're a lawyer or MBA who reads /., what is wrong with this idea (besides assuming a volunteer-based and community-based ISP will flop)? They said it couldn't be done with operating systems ... and it happened. What about ISPs? Would this be the biggest waste of money in the history of the world (or the largest pyramid scheme ever) ... or could this be history in the making?

      Inquiring minds want to know ... because right now it'd rock if someone we could all trust (someone who isn't all about money to begin with) would set up a PayPal account for this very purpose and start rounding up heavyweight geeks to form the board. Rally the troops! Let's start buying up dead ISPs and turn the Internet back over to the people! Damn the man!

  • by JustAnotherReader ( 470464 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:24PM (#2638734)
    As an @Home subscriber I just have to wonder: How can they have a 45% market share AND charge $39.95 per month and still not make money? If this was some bizzare dot-com startup I could understand it (we're going to give the user the ability to change the contrast and brightness of their monitors via the internet). But this is a basic infrastructure company with steady income and a massive market share.

    Certainly they are not taking in the entire $39.95 each month. The local provider (Cox Cable in my town) obviously takes a portion of that montly bill, but Excite! must still be receiving a ton of money each month.

    Moreover, they have a monopoly. In my neighborhood I don't have a choice between Cox and Roadrunner. It's either Cox@Home or a phone modem (we're too far away from the CO for DSL). So they can't be losing customers since there's no compitition. And even if their competition is DSL then their competitors are going out of business as well (whatever happened to Covad?)

    Sombody's got to be taking some money home with them at night.

    • Could it be? (Score:2, Informative)

      by ouija147 ( 467204 )
      That this end of the Excite business is profitable and that bad investments are dragging down Excite@home?

      On the ScreenSavers last night Leo Laporte stated that an insider told him that the service is extremely profitable and that the cable services are waiting for Excite to tank to take over the service for themselves.

      Who knows for sure ...
    • by JWhitlock ( 201845 ) <John-Whitlock.ieee@org> on Friday November 30, 2001 @07:04PM (#2638999)
      I was looking over my 2001 Demotivators calendar (2002 version for sale here [thinkgeek.com]). It says that on October 25, 1999, "A zero-revenue online greeting company called "Blue Mountain" sells for $780 million to Excite".

      I did a quick search of the Excite web site. That same month, they promised to donate up to $3 million to a Meg Ryan-sponsered charity [home.net].

      They had a revenue of $113 million [home.net] for that quarter.

      The 1999 news site [home.net] has a ton of stuff like this. The 2000 site [home.net] seems to have as much, but the last announcement is in May, 2000.

      Does that shed some light on where the money went? Just another company, thinking they would keep getting exponential growth, making money out of nothing, with no provisions for an economic downturn.

      I'll miss being a LPB on Counterstrike.

    • $16.00, not $39.95 (Score:2, Informative)

      by JohnQPublic ( 158027 )
      According to the bondholders' motion, the typical @Home user charge is $46.00, of which @Home only sees $16 - the cable company keeps the other $30.
    • Certainly they are not taking in the entire $39.95 each month. The local provider (Cox Cable in my town) obviously takes a portion of that montly bill, but Excite! must still be receiving a ton of money each month.

      Nah - they only get about $15 of that $40. The rest stays with the cable company (who is greedly eyeing that $15 for themselves, or selling your ass to Microsoft or AOL for some change).

      Furthermore, they have to take all of the customer service calls, which is why they are screwed. They never thought there would be so many slashdotters rubbing their minimum wage idiots' noses into the existence of their NetBSD on Mac IIcx Firewalls. Of course, they wouldn't have had such support costs if their network was better run (but again that's probably because they were undercapitalized by the cable companies who created them, umm, not to mention their dotcrap buying spree).

      Those of you who are being cut off will be lucky if you pick up 'just a pipe' service. This could be the big Interactive TV Convergance shakedown that the cablecos have wanted from day 1.
  • by FlaviusVarus ( 233009 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:27PM (#2638751)
    Here is the info page for Comcast@home users

    • And if you service goes out you can call the information/message service @ 1-888-433-6963 for an update (it's a recording).
    • by weave ( 48069 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @09:03PM (#2639524) Journal
      Oh wow, Comcast finally added something to that page (at the bottom) today...

      Why should I stay with Comcast @Home, given the current situation?

      Before you decide to make a switch, we ask that you remember that your service has not been interrupted at this time. In addition, switching to another provider such as DSL could leave you with:

      • Slower speeds
      • Higher Monthly Fees
      • Long-Term Contracts

      I got news for those fuckers. A 300 baud modem is a faster speed than ZERO....

  • Let's draw an analogy between this and telephone service, or any other public utility (water, power, etc.). If 45 % of the country's telephone subscriber's were going to lose service, govt would be up in arms and rattling cages, dropping stiumlus packages left and right.

    Granted, bandwidth is not a crucial as say water, power, and heat, but to some businesses, it could be make or break. Scary...

    Wonder how my EDonkey traffic will be this weekend? :)
  • Service tiers... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:31PM (#2638777) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the residential broadband market is that it relies on users not using much of the bandwidth available to them. But the people that most flock to broadband connections are those that want bandwidth.

    I'm fighting with Cox Road Runner (Fairfax, VA) about policy changes. Although not currently prohibited, it appears that they are trying to pressure residential users that run their own (passworded) FTP servers, Telnet servers, mail, and web servers into buying Cox Business Internet services. One problem: My 1.5mbps download pipe costs $250 on business vs. $40 on residential. Odd too, how they are only discussing these server limitations now that they have a high-priced "business service" to offer.

    Road Runner, @home, and other cable modem services need to start pricing more realistically. If someone wants just "basic" service for e-mail and web pages, then give them 512K PPPOE so that they can't run servers. And charge them $40 a month for it. If someone wants to run servers for personal use or needs a bit more bandwidth to dowload Linux and *BSD ISO images, give them 1.5MB, 1 static IP and charge them $90. But don't try to make residential users pay for business class services that cost as much as a car payment! People just won't make the jump from $40 to $250 -- unless they really are running businesses.
    • Their business deal sounds pretty dire, especially since you can get dedicated hosting these days at a full-featured datacenter with backup power generation, and 300GB burstable bandwidth included for only $99 a month. All on a much fatter pipe too.
    • I'm fighting with Cox Road Runner (Fairfax, VA) about policy changes. Although not currently prohibited, it appears that they are trying to pressure residential users that run their own (passworded) FTP servers, Telnet servers, mail, and web servers into buying Cox Business Internet services. One problem: My 1.5mbps download pipe costs $250 on business vs. $40 on residential. Odd too, how they are only discussing these server limitations now that they have a high-priced "business service" to offer.

      This is the same thing the phone companies where doing when they found out that someone was running a BBS on their residential line. I wish they would understand that hobbists that know what they are doing aren't sucking tons of bandwidth and would never pay business prices.

    • by weave ( 48069 )
      Doesn't sound like anything that a nice iptables rule that checks for their port scanner subnet and responds with a "-J REJECT -reject-with tcp-reset" wouldn't solve! :-)
  • Who will be most upset by the @home outage?

    • Slashdotters
    • Ebayers
    • Googlers
    • Pr0nographers
    • Cowboy Neal
  • by ApoxyButt ( 536650 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:40PM (#2638833) Homepage Journal
    Well, maybe. It all depends on whether or not there's anybody waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum when Excite moves out.

    I work in the digital loop carrier industry, and the technology exists to extend DSL broadband to people outside of the normal DSL range of a mile or so from the phone company's Central Office. The company I work for makes a box that allows phone companies to send all their voice and data over fiber (or copper, or wireless) to a remote terminal, and then it's from THAT point that the 1 mile limitation kicks in.

    The problem for John Q. Dialup is that the phone companies are just too big and slow to put this technology out in the field. Our stuff is just now going through testing in SBC, but how long it will be before a large number of people can live 10 miles from the Central Office and still get DSL is anybody's guess.

    Right now, many of the people with the best broadband opportunities are actually rural customers! This technology I'm talking about is pretty attractive to smaller Mom & Pop phone companies because due to the low initial cost of this particular product.

    I got lucky: my aparment complex just happens to fall into one of SBC Ameritech's DSL sweet spots. I think when I get around to getting a house, I'm going to be looking very closely at the DSL availability!

  • I live in NJ, and the way it works is Comcast acts like a monopolly.

    I pay $85 per month for internet, and cable service for my TV, and I do not have a single premium channel. In fact I just was notified today that rates have gone up another 6% or so.

    If Comcast shuts me off tonight, and thats who effectively would be pulling the plug, I will be on the horn tomorrow to have Comcast take every cable they have out of this house ASAP.

    I will then call a satellite provider and have them provide me TV service.

    I will then patiently wait for DSL and keep an eye on stellite service. Perhaps I will even get a T1 and share with my neighbors.

    I am up to here with Cable arrogance. They are the only technology related thing that costs more over time for less service.
  • "With the parties back at the bargaining table, Bear Stearns analyst Raymond Lee Katz predicts that AT&T could slightly raise its bid to "a sum that will not be more than $400 million."

    Well, if their bid fails, I volunteer to help AT&T get rid of the slight $93M difference.
    These guys have a strange concept of the value of money I reckon ...

  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:46PM (#2638876)
    I understand that they haven't been making money but how do they go for so long without adjusting their plan to make money? Wouldn't they have seen a while back that they are going down the tube?

    There are two ways to make a business profitable. Reduce costs or increase income.

    I would have thought that a cable service could increase it's monthly charges and still made money. They would have lost some customers to DSL but a lot of customers don't have any other choice. If it takes $60/month/user to make money then that's what has to be charged.

    So let's see... As far as broadband goes, we've lost Northpoint, Rhythms, Covad just filed chapter 11. AT&T and Excite(Cox?) just filed chapter 11.

    Who is left?
    SWBell is my local phone company and they have DSL. Surprise that all their competitors went out of business considering SWBell was providing the lines.

    I think we either need to make a concious decision:
    A. We don't want to let the phone company sell DSL, and we don't want the Cable company to provide cable access only provide the lines so other companies can resell.

    B. We want the phone and cable companies to be the sole providers of the service and the line. We want it to be government regulated to keep us from getting screwed and to set prices.

    Personally, I vote for A.

    What is everyone else's toughts?
    • I'll go for B. Seems like deregulation and free market capitalism is of, shall we say, limited usefulness in this area?

      Man... 45% of cable modem subscribers? I hadn't realised it was quite this big.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but weren't these guys supposed to be competing heroically with each other in good free market fashion to benefit the consumer, rather than killing each other off and then dying like dinosaurs? Counting the dead services barely six hours before 45% of the US cable market goes dark, I kinda wonder if that deregulated free market stuff really works.

      If anyone else had DONE this to us it'd be a freaking act of war (news flash! bin laden kills 45% of America's cable modem infrastructure in a suicide attack!) but because it was done by free market capitalism we're supposed to nod and go 'well done'? riiiiiight.

      I'd say we best be careful at this point, or maybe next year our regular PHONE companies and power utilities will be the ones plunging 45% of the country into darkness- not from terrorist attack, but because they fought in the 'free' market, screwed up, and lost... Imagine this happening to electric power and not cable modem service. It's not unthinkable, all it requires is a certain amount of corporate stupidity, big debt, and a downward spiral. See 'Dilbert' for more details...

  • I've never been happier with my 56k...
  • by Naum ( 166466 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:51PM (#2638903) Homepage Journal

    Cable modems via Cox came to the neighborhood back in August and I quickly signed up and I believe I have a final payment to make on the cable modem purchased.

    I just shut off my 2nd line and dial up provider - now it seems that may have been a rash move. Cox has a info page up saying they're going to "negotiate into the night" to set up a stopgap arrangement to keep us online, but I'm pessimistic as it seems that outside of a ridiculous amount of loot deposited to Excite, there's not a lot of incentive to be agreeable.

    The judge's commentary really irks me. Yes, for many, the net is not a necessity. But for people like me who rely on it for work and my wife who needs access for school, it is a utility on par with the phones and electricity. It seems that the customer counts last - do these idiots (Excite creditors) think they'll get any more money if there is any lengthy service disruption? I suppose many of us have to take without viable alternatives - here, no DSL is available and the other alternatives (Sprint Broadband, satellite) are unreliable and unsuitable for games and conferencing (according to their own sales brochure material that caused me to cancel an order for those services) - DSL and cable modems (outside of a T1 line) are the only viable options for the home user.

  • According to this page [imgfarm.com] the Excite.com portal will live on after the shutdown.

    Quote the site:

    You may have recently read about issues with Excite@Home's broadband service. Don't worry. Excite.com and the broadband service are operated completely separately. Whatever you may hear about Excite@Home broadband, cable or ISP will have no affect on this site. You will continue to enjoy the same great content and personalized services. In fact, we're adding more fun and useful services to make Excite even better.

  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @06:59PM (#2638957) Homepage
    I just read the article [cnet.com] on news.com which discusses this ruling but it seemed to make clear two things:

    1) that the parties must go back to the bargaining table
    2) that the service being disconnected was unlikely

    What it sounds like happened is that the judge said they can cut the contracts but there is nothing right now saying affirmatively that the service will be shut off. Basically this just means it is legal for excite to cancel the existing contracts so that they can re-negotiate them.

    So I don't think excite is out yet...
  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @07:00PM (#2638970) Homepage
    ... then the terrorists have already won.

    Time for a Congressional bailout.

    P.S. It's for the children...

  • All of this is because ATT is in a hugely powerful position and took advantage of it. 300mil for Excite is a joke when you consider what their contracts are worth - or even when you look at their burn rate 6mil/week. This company is worth a helluva lot more. ATT is just a cash-rich robber-baron who has come in to reap the spoils of Excite's bad fortunes.

    It is because of providers like ATT that Excite is in this position to begin with. Of your $45/mo bill, Excite only sees $16 - and they are the ones providing the damn service.

    Maybe by shutting down, Excite will put ATT where they belong.
  • Let's think about this for a minute. How much does it cost for a corporation to least a T1 line? Over $1000 per month, at least in the United States. Cable modem users are each getting bandwidth that's equivalent or higher than a T1. And they're paying $40 a month. Now, sure, cable modem users are all sharing bandwidth to some extent, but the point is that they can eat up a hell of a lot of bandwidth by downloading giant demos, sharing files, listening to streaming radio, and so on. And they're not paying nearly what that bandwidth really costs at the back end. It's no suprise that this isn't currently a money making proposition. ISP admins have seen this coming since day 1, but like everyone else their eyes lit up at all that bandwidth for so little cost.
  • Facts for Cox users (Score:2, Informative)

    by BCTECH ( 540338 )
    I just got off the phone with an administrator at Cox. I had to weasel it out of him but my suspicions where correct. The only thing that they are threatening to turn off is Email, DNS, and web services. Does not affect me as I don't use their DNS and provide my own services via my collocated server. They just want enough customers to scream to force the cable companies such as Cox to pay Excite@home more money on contract renewals. I am not worried.
  • The article says they have the right to shutdown, not that they will be shutting down. There's a big difference in my book.
  • Its important if these companies keep going assendup, we're gonna need to develop some alternative high speed internet connectivity options, and deploy them before its too late.

    Neighborhood based internet is probably the best option. Let the neighborhoods wire themselves up to each other, then pool the monthly fees for one or two high speed RELIABLE uplinks, something like a fractional T3 for a moderately sized neighborhood. This is basiclly the design of cable internet anyways, only it will be under the control of those who are actually using it. And they can dictate their own policy. And if you have a warez kiddy in the neighbhood abusing the service for everyone, you KNOW WHERE HE LIVES, and the problem can be delt with properly.

    And if the entire nighbhorhood is wired on the same network, people can each install a wireless ethernet hub and make the entire neighbhorhood wireless ready. If every subdivision would do this, you'll basically have citywide ethernet speed internet coverage.

    How to handle the abusers and other problem people? That remains to be seen. And its a problem that someone will need to deal with. @home's solution was to cap the upstream and piss off everyone. Maybe we can do better.

    Ok.. off the soapbox for now. Time to go pay the phone bill. :)

  • It's a part of @Home newtork, right?

    Okay, so let's assume for the moment that excite shuts down. Fine, AT&T loses some money there because they are an investor, but suddenly all of their cable competitors don't really have an Internet service alternative. On the other hand it sounds like AT&T has been building up their own network infrastructure for a while now. So this could put them in the position of selling services direct to their competitors which puts them in an awfully good position.


    Now, if AT&T can pick up excite for a song, then they end up in the exact same position but it works out even better for them financially because then they've got an already existing infrastructure and with the built in connections to their competitors. This short cuts the hassles that would be involved in EVIL CORPORATE PLAN A.

    Now on to my personal rant...

    The thing that bothers me in all of this is that AT&T, in the interests of "maximizing shareholder value" should play the game this way. And I'm sure that any of the other competitors would be happy to play the game that way if they had the opportunity to. I'm just so sick of the whole "screw everybody out of their money" game that corporate american seems to have evolved into. It'd be nice if I could watch a commercial by AT&T or SBC or any of the other big telecom companies, that talked about customer service and quality and not spit out my drink from laughing so hard.
  • AT&T and Static IPs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wanker ( 17907 ) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @09:00AM (#2640864)
    AT&T's support lines are swamped, even though it's the middle of the night. I managed to get through on chat much more quickly than the support number. (Though the person I spoke with on the phone was much friendlier than the one in chat...)

    Here's what I found out:
    + The chat person said flat-out that AT&T does not support static IPs and that I was basically hosed. She referred me to the Win32 "configurator" executable on the http://newuser.attbi.com website. I didn't bother asking for a linux version. ;-)
    + The phone person said that since everything was so new that they didn't have their act together for static IPs yet and to run dynamic for a couple weeks until things settle down.

    Either way, I'm stuck on DHCP for a while, but the phone support seemed to imply there was some light at the end of the tunnel once the initial rush of problems are sorted out. For me, this is only an issue for remote access since my internal network is all NATted anyhow.

    My guess is that the Excite --> AT&T transition would be completely transparent to those on DHCP who renew their leases after midnight.

    And of course, if they try to force me to stay on DHCP, there's always DSL...
  • by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <spoonyfork&gmail,com> on Saturday December 01, 2001 @11:46AM (#2641076) Journal
    As of 01-DEC-2001 10:00 AM EST according to the message at the Comcast Online Customer Information Hotline 1-888-433-6963, they are currently unaware of any interuptions in service. They advise that should your service become interupted, call the Customer Service Hotline at 1-888-793-0800.

    I am a Comcast@home subscriber in the Metro Detroit area and had unresponsive DNS this morning but they're responding now.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva