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AT&T Ends Bid To Buy @Home Assets 217

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

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  • huh? (Score:2, Funny)

    by cvd6262 ( 180823 )

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

    Whose subscribers to whose network?

    • AT&T say that as of Tuesday morning they have moved 500,000 of their subscribers over to their network.
      Whose subscribers to whose network?
      AT&T@Home's customers to AT&T Broadband (the attbi.com thing).
      • I don't understand what is going on at all. What exactly does (did?) Excite@home own? Did they do business with At&T, or with consumers directly? What is AT&T@Home? And At&T Broadband is presumably the cable TV operation of AT&T?
        • Re:huh? (Score:5, Informative)

          by M-G ( 44998 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:44PM (#2656933)
          I don't understand what is going on at all.What exactly does (did?) Excite@home own?

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

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

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

          What is AT&T@Home?

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

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

          Yes, along with digital phone service and internet access.

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

          If you decide to change dialup ISPs, you change the number you dial. In this situation, the cable companies are unplugging their connection to @Home, and plugging into a different provider's network.
        • AT&T owns a high speed cable network. @Home was set up to provide Account Administration,Billing services, customer support, and content. There are more things that @Home provided, and there are sub categorys of the things that I've listed here. One of the most important things IMHO was mail/news/web/etc servers for thier customers. @Home was a service provider, and AT&T was the VAR, or Delivery guy, or what ever...
        • I don't understand what is going on at all. What exactly does (did?) Excite@home own? Did they do business with AT&T, or with consumers directly? What is AT&T@Home? And AT&T Broadband is presumably the cable TV operation of AT&T?
          Foo@Home (for any Foo) was the combination of Foo, the cable company, making sure your cable to the Foo office can be used for IP (and that you got billed for it), and Excite@Home, making sure there was IP connectivity from Foo to the Internet. (I don't know where the line of demarcation is between the two organizations.)

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

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

          AT&T (and Cox) had been working on this for a while, knowing a crisis was coming to a head.
        • by Grit ( 18830 )

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

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

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

  • Well, sounds like excite is acting as nothing more than a stop gap measure for the remaining users of it's service until they can get their own networks up and running. So it's safe to say that excite@home will not be an ongoing concern in a few months. Will anybody really notice though?
  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:18PM (#2656763) Homepage
    This only hurts the @home bond-holders. The guys that convinced the bankrupcy judge that it was better to leave 4M+ accounts without internet connection then weaken thier bargaining position. Could happen to nicer people. I never understood the rationale for the Poker game they played.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I never understood the rationale for the Poker game they played.

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

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

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

    • It doesn't seem to have hurt them _too_ badly. The $320 million combined that the two other cable companies are paying is about what ATT was offering for a buyout. But I agree, it was a stupid move.
    • Uh, no, it *also* hurts the 1700 @home employees who are basically getting screwed in the whole deal --- at&t pulls out, the people who were hoping to go along with the physical assets get dumped. They're the true victims in the whole game.
  • This is a great example for shareholders on how to screw yourself over. Frankly, I'll be happy when Comcast gets us all switched over to their own system.
  • Do the math (Score:2, Redundant)

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

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

    Sounds good ... except Excite@Home (or the companies it owned money to) probably could have gotten up to $400M from AT&T. These are the same folks who thought Excite@Home was worth $1B, and who thought their fair cut of our $40/month payments was about $50/month. (They're getting about $95/month for the "three months, you're out" plan.)
    • You have to factor in the cost of continued operations though. It is not that simple. Me thinks, Excite is going to loose big time.
      - da bear -
    • Re:Do the math (Score:2, Insightful)

      by brulman ( 183184 )
      and Excite now has to pay to keep the network running for the next three months which will probably burn through most of the $320 million. AT&T had offered to absorb 300 employees and take $70 million in debt as well. Excite, their employees, AT&T, the customers AND the greedy bastard bondholders lose. what a bunch of assholes.
    • I suspect that the Comcast and Cox deal made sense because the @Home people figure they can liquidate their assets for more than $80M.

      It was likely a good bet. AT&T could have blinked and paid up for more than $400M.
    • Oooh, I forgot - I am one of the those ATT customers that were cut off. My experience with Excite? - what a crappy customer service that was and how restrictive and intrusive they were. I'm happy to be away from them.
    • In bankruptacy proceddings, there is a big difference between creditors and "owners" (which includes shareholders). AT&T only owned 25% of Excite@Home, but had a 75% voting interest in Excite@Home (due to difference classes of stock). What they wanted to do, was to purchases the assets of Excite@Home for $305M plus the assumption of a some of the debits (essentially the leases).

      Of course, what the bond holders - the creditors - have gotten out of this deal is a lot less than what AT&T offered. Yes, they are getting $320M for keeping the service up for three months, but they will easily burn through much of this money keeping the service running. In addition, the leases are still in place and take precedence over the bond holders. In the end, they will probably get little, if anything when Excite@Home gets liquidity at the end of three months.

      The bondholders bet that AT&T would blink, that they couldn't get a network up and running in the short amount of time in which they have done it. They have taken what was an asset that could have brought in $305M and reduced it to something that will probably get picked up by someone - who knows, maybe AT&T - for maybe $25M (remember high bid gets it, no questions about fairness) at the liquidition auction. These guys screwed themselves and how.

      And AT&T has done a good job of under promising and overdelivering. They were telling us that it would be two weeks to get the service transferred. Well, here it is four days later (Saturday-Sunday-Monday-Tuesday) and we have our service back up. Yes, we were inconveniced; yes, it wasn't fun; but they have the service back up and runnning in a very short amount of time.

  • Was it worth it ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DennisZeMenace ( 131127 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:21PM (#2656778) Homepage
    One wonders how valuable those assets really were considering it took AT&T about 5 days to switch most of their @Home customers to their own network...

    • Except you forget one thing...

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

      If the network was worth so little, why were my downloads 20 or 30 times faster then they are now? I feel like I've been paying to drive a corvette, and now I'm still paying for that corvette but somebody welded the gear shift into 1st gear. ATT is basically leaving their customers with much lower service and acting like they're doing us a favor....
      • Results may vary, I guess, but I'm not experiencing this at all. Even though most of the bay area former customerse have been switched already (i was switched sometime yesterday), my bandwidth has not been affected at all. I still have about 2 to 4 Mbps in download, and 128kbps in upload.

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

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

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

          Basically, almost eveyone I've talked to would be willing to pay 20 dollars or more a month if they could just get their bandwidth back... I wonder if ATT considered that? Or maybe offering a premium service? Hopefully they will in the near future because this cut has really affected our usage.
          • How about switching to DSL? No, I am not being an *ss I am serious! It seems that's the whole point of DSL - you pay more, but you have certain bandwidth guarantees. And the more you pay, the more bandwidth you get.

            I have had two cable modems (currently Adelphia, and before that comcast@home) and I've NEVER gotten the kind of bandwidth you're describing. I always thought that was fine, I pay a lower fee than DSL and get more than enough bandwidth - but then again, I don't share my connection with 3 roomates - but then again, unless you were paying for the additional IPs, you're not supposed to do that anyway :)
          • So what do you pay for the 1.5Mpbs service you're complaining so much about? Over here in the UK it's £40-50 ($60-70) a month for 512 down / 128 up.
            • by SiriusRegalis ( 470623 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @08:46PM (#2657209)
              What I or you pay is not the issue... It's ATT claiming they are doing me a favor when they are not.

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

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

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

              And still on top of that, we're willing to pay gladly, so profits don't have to even take a hit. Offer me a premium service, then cap those that don't need it or want to pay. People by expensive foreign cars when a cheaper car would do... why not the same here?
    • It might have cost ATT a shitload of money to get everything setup so quick, I wouldn't be surprized if cost them upwards of $300 million.
  • comcast just sent me a letter confirming this, luckily i'm on time warner who even went so far as to give me a courtesy call this evening to make sure everything was still working, but i still have an @home email account.. however if my parents lose their access i'm sure it'll be up to me to provide a replacement so i guess i shoudl start trying to find dsl providers that don't suck ass in indy (hint; there are none)
  • AT&T Welcome Page (Score:1, Interesting)

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

    I am using the AT&T DNS servers (though I have tried more reliable ones I know of) to see if they were somehow "implanting" their URL for hosts which couldn't be found (I tend to come up with crazy theories sometimes), yet this still happens. Does anybody know how to get AT&T to stop intercepting my pages?
  • by billybob ( 18401 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:25PM (#2656811)
    The whole "no more excite@Home" thing doesnt mean anything. Oh, gee whiz, you mean I cant access their totally killer, @home-members-only, portal site anymore? Gosh, I'm depressed. Because I sure did visit that page a lot! Let me count the times.. one... one. The day i got cable modem. over 2 years ago.

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

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

    So I could care less about what goes on between excite and at&t. were better off without excite. If this means at&t is 300 million dollars richer, maybe that will translate into less rate hikes in the future.
  • AT&T & Static IP's (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pika ( 49094 )
    I had static IP's when AT&T was going through Excite.

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

    Has anybody had any luck getting static IP's (or extra IP's) through AT&T?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I just used Win2000 DHCP, and used the IP numbers from ipconfig to plug into my linux firewall, then switched windows back to
      Working fine for the past 2.5 days (Seattle)
    • Here in Washington, we had static IPs to start. Then we switched to DHCP, and were still on DHCP when excite@home cut them off. The thing is, they never reset their DHCP server, and I always had the same IP address. Now, I'm on a different dhcp server and likewise have a different IP address.
    • I am operating on the new at&t connection right now. My service is exactly the same as previous (besides hostname and IP. I have a static IP, so far as I can tell, 128kbps upload and uncapped download (just downloaded Linux-2.4.16 at about 400-500K/sec)
      However, my connection has been dropping and re-connecting every few minutes since the switch. This is only noticable in sensitive programs like IRC. I'm sure this will go away once the new network has had a few days to stabilize.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:25PM (#2656815)

    Let's call it "@Homeless".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am in the San Francisco Bay Area and I was down on Saturday, Sunday but back online by Monday night. And my email account has the same password. Did they just scrub the disks and re-ip the mail servers. I wonder what the actual network switch was since AT&T owned most of the network already.
  • ... is still down as of about 30 seconds ago. I went down sometime early Saturday morning and haven't seen the light of day since. Instead I am dialing up to my campus network at about 19.2kbps since our phone line sucks so much. With companies like AT&T and Qwest you really can't win. I still prefer AT&T to Qwest anyday though...
    • I'm not part of the AT&T crew but, I got switched over to Adelphia PowerLink this morning at about one, I went over to DSLreports to do the speed test, it seemed even better then before, but now, I am almost ready to go out and get a new modem, and dial-up account, I was downloading at 840bps. I hope these are just growing pains, I wonder how much Qwest DSL is?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I am part of the AT&T crew, and you should be up tonight. We are working our tails off to get the network elements in place and have everyone migrated ASAP...I believe that we will be done by Thursday evening.

      I do feel bad for our customers, and our customer service folks, that they got caught up in this pissing match between Excite@home and AT&T Broadband.
    • I was told that we're scheduled to have our service back up on Thursday.

      Of course, who knows how long it will take to get to noncompliant drones who aren't using Windows. We cause them too much trouble since we can't follow their predigested scripts (and I'm usually too busy to be willing to lie my way through endless Windows menus instead of taking 15 seconds to edit a text file and restart a server).
    • My Boulder modem is back up, at least temporarily. I did have to change my linksys firewall/router from a static IP address to DHCP....
  • This wouldn't have happened if people didn't Dump broadband and dug out their modems [slashdot.org]. Sorry, just occured to me and I couldn't resist. If you didn't read the comments with the story, now would be a good time (it's worth a chuckle).


  • by PoiBoy ( 525770 ) <brian.poiholdings@com> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:43PM (#2656927) Homepage
    AT&T had been offering something in the $300-$400 million range to buy all the assets of @Home, and now Comcast et al. are paying $320 million to keep the network running for 3 months?

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

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

    • AT&T threw out an incredibly lowball bid. That's why they got axed and Cox & Comcast still have service. AT&T's offer was an insult - sort of like me coming up to you and saying "I'll give you $5 for that 1.4GHz Athlon system you got there..."
  • by CodingFiend ( 236675 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:43PM (#2656928)
    My cable modem service had stopped working, got an automated call last week telling me that I should get another call at the end of this week telling me what's up.

    I then signed up for a temporary dial-up account with a local ISP. By chance, I decided to try the cable modem, so I used IE's connection wizard. IE then opened a window containing setup information for the "new" AT&T (basically, changed DNS from specific servers to automatically find the DNS servers), and I now have my cable modem working again! I honestly didn't realize how painfully slow dial-up was until forced to use it!!
  • No surprise here (Score:2, Insightful)

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

    Not to mention the political side of it - Excite cut AT&T off, while the other companies remained connected. Pissing off a big company like that is not they way to convince them you're worthy of doing business with.
  • by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @07:53PM (#2656968) Homepage Journal
    I've noticed the following:
    1)I've had a shortcut (symlink, for you non windows folks ;) ) that was deleted by the installer.
    It was, of course, called @home (news reader).
    Good thing it was not a folder with data..phew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • You're better off then me - ever since the transition my connection has been 300 baud down and I'm not quite sure what up (and I'm not bs'ing you in the slightest).
    • I had made a "hard" association of vbs with notepad to avoid viruses (via winfile, so registry entries would not over write my association). The installer broke (or re-enabled it, if you prefer) that association. Grrrrrr.

      That's because it reinstalled the Windows Scripting Host.

      Open the registry entry for all script files (WSF, VBS, JS and so on) and set the default action (on the root of the registry tree for the file type) to EDIT instead of OPEN. All you ever get when a script worm hits are tons of instances of Notepad. This is not affected by updates to the WSH, which only looks to see if the file associations are correct, not which one of the shell commands is the default.

      If you think about it, this is the cheapest possible anti virus agent designed specifically for script worms =)
  • You can't cancel! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rkuris ( 541364 ) <rk@u[ ]y.com ['nif' in gap]> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @08:30PM (#2657140) Homepage
    I just tried calling AT&T Broadband to cancel my service, since I have found broadband access elsewhere, and they said they couldn't do it! The problem is they are changing their systems, and suggested I call back on the 12th.

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

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

      Repeat after me: the network is the computer... the network is the computer...
    • Re:You can't cancel! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pongo000 ( 97357 )
      OTOH, nothing in the AUP specifically prohibits servers in connection with the service. In fact, this paragraph seems to contradict the whole idea of one computer/one account (bold mine):

      (i.) FTP/HTTP Service Setup. Customer acknowledges that when using the Service there are certain applications such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server or HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) server which may be used by other persons or
      entities to allow such other persons or entities to gain access to Customer?s Equipment. Customer is solely responsible for the
      security of the Customer Equipment or any other equipment Customer chooses to use in connection with the Service,
      without limitation any data stored on such equipment. Neither AT&T Broadband nor its affiliates shall have any liability
      whatsoever for any claims, losses, actions, damages, suits or proceedings resulting from, arising out of or otherwise relating to
      the use of such applications by Customer, or the access by others to the Customer Equipment or other equipment of Customer.

      I'll take my chances on the conflict between these two AUP provisions.
      • Huh? You seem to be reading that differently than I am. it looks like At&t is saying, if you set up a server on your machine, and let people from outside the network ftp into it, and the machine is damaged, they as network provider are not responsible. That's a totally different issue from how many connections you can have connect through your node.
    • So... for those of you staying with AT&T Broadband, you better tell them about masqueraded hosts!

      Your masqueraded hosts aren't connected to their network, and aren't connected to "the Service" any more than the web servers you speak to on the other end are.

      Your NAT box is connected to the network, and it is the only thing sending traffic on their network. The fact that it gets the contents of some of those packets from other computers is irrelevant, and the fact that it sends traffic to other computers is equally irrelevant. After all, even if you had only one computer, it'd be sending packets to Slashdot, and Slashdot would be sending packets to it.

      This provision is meant to stop you from discovering that in many locations, the DHCP servers will respond to multiple machines on your end, so that you could technically hook the cable modem into a hub and get multiple direct connections. As is becoming the norm for such things, they have the lawyers fix the technical problems instead of the system administrators.
  • I must start off by saying I am an AT&T Broadband customer who just got his service back after a 4 day absence. I could go on and on about what a poor decision the business people at AT&T and Excite made but that's be done to death. I'm posting to salute the network engineers who are moving 100's of thousands of subscribers per day! They have nothing to do with the business end of this whole mess but I have never seen a panic induced migration move so quickly! I have some choice words for people wearing suits in this but hey to you guys in jeans and a tshirt working ling hours in raised floor network offices, nice job.
    • Good point. Moving half a million users to a new network in ~5 days is quite a feat. I'm sure there will be kinks, but focusing on the positive side:

      Anyone know how they did this?

      How do you test a newly configured network for 500k users to make sure its working before going online?

      Am I the only one impressed that AT&T could pull this off...they haven't exactly impressed me with other services, so I'm still in shock?

      Perhaps this isn't as a big of a task as I see. Can any of you network gurus comment from your standpoint?
    • I don't want to trivialize the effort in moving hundreds of thousands of users, but IMHO they exercised extremely poor judgement in prioritizing the work.

      There are two separate issues here. One is basic connectivity, the other are the bundled ISP services.

      Many of us (a small fraction of their users, but more common among the Linux/Unix users) used them solely for connectivity. It's not just elitism either: when you have your own domain(s) and hosting services, you don't have much interest in these bundled services. *Especially* when we consider all ISPs a bit iffy, having been around the block a few times already - some of us have "vanity domains" precisely to avoid this sudden need to change email and web addresses etc.

      Yet we spent days without access while someone was busy creating an account we will never use to replace another account we never used. Give us basic connectivity and we're happy - at worst we use the DNS from our hosting account for a few days. But no, we were left in the dark for days.

      Of course, most people do use the bundled ISP accounts, but again they have alternative accounts at Hotmail, at the office, etc. Again, give them basic connectivity and DNS services and they'll be able to do a lot, even if they don't have their usual email for a few days. But no, they were left in the dark for days.

      The only people this policy served were those refugees from AOL who never looked beyond their own email or web pages. I'm sure there were a few, but I would be surprised if it was more than 10%.

      I believe the vast majority of people would prefer to have basic connectivity up within 24 hours, even if it delayed email and web pages for a few additional days, than to be dark for days.
  • I'm sure no one cares, but while I was at work AT&T Broadband service in Denver, CO came back online, yay! My ip is under 12.x.x.x, in case anyone cares. About to test the download cap by hammering the news server...

    [gets some music videos]

    Yup, it's capped :(, probably at the same 1.5M everyone's reporting, though I maxed out at 1.1M. Pretty disappointing since I used to top out at 4M, and even got up to 7M a few times, but it would be unreasonable to expect that level of performance for $46/m. Oh well, beats the sh1t out of dial-up ;)
    • I'd also like to note that none of my inbound ports have been blocked, as some others had reported. Point a browser at to see my girlfriend's Photoshop site ;)
  • In my area (SFBay Area) I discovered my service was down only because my statically-configured DNS servers weren't responding any more. Then a day later they were, but I noticed a very strange thing - all queries threw out the same IP address. So I brought up a web browser and went to slashdot.org, and their attbi new user page came up in its place.

    The new user page contained information about what had happened and about how to get on the new service. (It also mentioned that they've throttled download speeds at 1.5Mbit, where I was getting 10 before. Feh!) Very weird, but darned if it wasn't a good solution. So I discovered that you have to call them to get static IP information, but as long as dhclient is configured correctly, it'll get the right info for you. After I got my DHCP information everything was golden. I could have switched back to static if I'd wanted to.

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @10:19PM (#2657627)
    FYI, my AT&T cable (Boulder) came up and everything was fine once I told my Linksys box to use DHCP instead of a static IP address, but everything went to hell after about 15-20 minutes when AT&T HIJACKED THE ROOT DNS SERVERS. Every single address, including attbi.com, resolves to their transition site. I couldn't even bring up their help page.

    On the one hand, this is clearly a (feeble) attempt to communicate with their users. How many Windows users do they think are using the root DNS servers?! -- it will primarily hit the people using "unsupported" operating systems.

    But this makes the broadband service unusable to those of us running our own local DNS servers precisely because of problems we've had in the past with theirs. Sure, there are workarounds (I can think of several), but in the overall picture they're more hassles to maintain than my current approach.

    I couldn't get through the ATTBI number (never any complaints when you don't give the sheep a way to reach a person!), but asked the cable TV person to pass on my... annoyance but temporary acceptance of the situation... and to ask the ATTBI people to call be back with an ETA for when the root DNS servers will be restored.

    I fear, deep in my cynical heart, that this is actually an attempt to force everyone to use their DNS servers so they can track our movements and ultimately hijack additional content. E.g., you ask for "www.ford.com" but get a "www.chevrolet.com" interstital. In that case the root DNS servers are never coming back... and I want to close my account as soon as possible.

    At least, for now, they aren't blocking the DNS servers of other ISPs. I've still lost some important local functionality, but at least I'm able to get back up.
    • Checking my settings, I saw that I was using my last known @Home DNS addresses as the 'forwarder' addresses. When I replaced them with (forcing a query against the root servers) I got the right addresses.

      So they hijacked their old DNS server addresses (assuming they were operated by Excite), not the root DNS servers... but that would be a trivial change to make. Definitely not something that gives knowledgeable users warm fuzzies.
  • AT&T might have reprovisioned 500,000 of their broadband customers already, but the 5500 of us in Centre County, PA, aren't going to be that lucky. AT&T was in the process of selling us to Adelphia so we weren't included in their contingency plans. According to local news, it seems that the current target is the end of December so AT&T will be sending us CDs for free dialup for the duration. Free dialup for a month...woohoo. Better lower my slashdot thread preference to 1000.
  • I've got nothing but complaints since ATT took over. First there's the deal with the nameservers. My DHCP client was given three numbers. One doesn't work at all. One kind of works, but for some reason I get an 80% packet loss whenever I use it. And one seems to work pretty well. I had to test each one individually to find the good one, because when I set the DNS servers manually on my internal network, my linux box cycles between the three. It wasn't very fun having a website show up properly only 33% of the time.

    I thought I'd try getting updated information from the DHCP server, hoping they'd have something better. When I restarted the network on my gateway, the DHCP request timed out. Their server was down. Fortunately, I had a copy of what I was given before so I could get my network back up. Otherwise I would've been AOL (SOL in internet terms;) until they finally got around to bringing up their DHCP server.

    Overall, I must say I'm not impressed at all and am finally getting ready to switch to DSL.

  • AT&T in SLC is back online.

    They hijacked the DNS stuff to take me to attbi.com every other minute, so I've set my forwarders to the DNS servers for the att.com domain instead of using the ones they're supplying. Ugh.

    Next, my DHCP lease was renewing way too often, so I've assumed the IP that I was getting is mine (I'm not counting on it though) and am using it statically now. UGH.

    And now, finally online without interruption, if uncomfortably, I learn that the connection is throttled downstream, so that instead of pulling down 7-8Mbits, I'm only getting 1.5 (and really a little less). UGH!

    Kernel downloads are now >2min instead of just a few seconds.

    I knew it was too good to last. From a working $40/mo. 8Mbit setup with my own IP to an unreliable 1.5Mbit setup, for the same price, with a half-week outage to boot.

    The good old days are gone... Now it really feels like the tech boom is over.
  • So they are reconnecting roughly 500K subscribers, while originally they had around 800K. Looks like they lost 300K subscribers to other providers (mostly DSL I guess).

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.