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Cox Discontinues Usenet, Starting In June 306

Existential Wombat was one of several readers to note that Cox Communcations customers have been put on notice that their Usenet access will soon dry up, unless they want to pay a monthly surcharge for it. From the note that subscribers received: "Effective June 30, 2010, Cox Communications will discontinue Usenet service to our subscribers. Declining newsgroup usage in recent years has highlighted the need to focus our resources on other priorities, such as increasing our Internet speeds and providing new services, including Cox Media Store and Share. We understand that our newsgroup subscribers may want to continue accessing Usenet. Therefore, we have worked with leading newsgroup service provider Giganews to offer special pricing for Cox subscribers." Gripes Existential Wombat: "$15++ a month for something Cox provided as a part of the service? Of course they will be reducing everyone's monthly tariff by the value of the service they no longer provide. Yeah, right."
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Cox Discontinues Usenet, Starting In June

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  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:42PM (#31931888)
    Does anybody who doesn't use IE for a newsreader expect their ISP to provide decent feeds? Anybody I know who's still there is using GigaNews or one of the other premium services.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:42PM (#31931898) Homepage

    What's left on Usenet is the "dark allies" of porn, spamming, and illegally shared copyrighted files.

    The standard discussion forums for a great many tech communities are still on Usenet: comp.lang.python, comp.text.tex and gnu.emacs.gnus are just a few that I read daily. While you are right that the average subscriber doesn't know about Usenet these days, the Slashdot crowd ought to be upset that ISPs are dropping Usenet servers.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @05:42PM (#31931908)
    Usenet was *not* superseded by Google Groups. Google Groups is just a crapping web front-end to Usenet. There are still a lot of good groups in Usenet, certainly more than what you describe. A lot of language standards still perform discussions on Usenet. The only issue with Usenet is all the idiots (trolls, spammers, jerks, pendants) have caused many of the truly smart and helpful people to leave, but you can still find people whose knowledge and skills easily over match your typical person on web-based forums (such as this one).
  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Informative)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:02PM (#31932204)

    Sure, you've got Google groups, but they're privately owned and moderated by Google.

    Usenet is the only distributed, unmoderated message "board" out there that isn't bound by one particular owner's or government's rules. It may not seem important now, but free anonymous and uncensored posts can be very important sometimes...

    I won't seem important until no one has it. Unregulated and anonymous communications are one thing every bad guy wants to stop.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:11PM (#31932324)
    Interestingly, uucp is still seeing some use in remote areas of certain countries, where the Internet infrastructure is not built up. The idea, as I understand it, is to use uucp to copy batches of email onto a mobile system (or just a flash drive), then physically move that system to the next computer, exchanging mail and whatnot, eventually exchanging email with the broader Internet. Slow, yes, but better than nothing at all.

    I am sure gopher and archie are still used somewhere too.
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:16PM (#31932378) Homepage Journal

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:19PM (#31932428)
    "The "newsgroup" service that Usenet was designed for is now superseded by Google Groups (who absorbed DejaNews, the site that aimed to archive every Usenet post ever), zillions of web forums, blogs, comment friendly sites like, um, the one you're reading this on called Slashdot... get the point?"

    Compared to my Usenet client, Google Groups, Slashdot, and every other web based system are a collective joke...and I am sure there are better Usenet clients than what I use (KNode). Usenet also has the advantage of being distributed -- or did Slashdot suddenly start exchanging comments with other systems (can I peer with Slashdot?), which came in handy when a Usenet server I used to use was shut down; I just pointed my client to another server, and the same discussions were all immediately available.

    Really, when it comes to text based discussions, Usenet has a lot of advantages. If all you care about is using the latest cool looking technology, I guess that does not matter to you, but some of us actually do like the discussions on Usenet. There are still a number of very nice discussions on technical topics, such as cryptography, math, and various programming languages. Usenet is not just for "illegal content," even if that is all you ever used it for.

    As for better service...well, let's put it this way: when Time Warner stopped running its Usenet servers, there was no increase in the quality of service I received from them. The quality of service remained identical, as it has with other ISPs. Cox just wants to turn a higher profit by ending a service that a minority of customers were using, and to claim otherwise is either naivety or outright lying.
  • Re:Usenet (Score:2, Informative)

    by diatonic ( 318560 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:19PM (#31932430) Homepage

  • Prices (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:00PM (#31932962)

    The $15/month is _not_ what you'll be paying.

    The real price is $30/month. It's a crazy price. It's Giganews' "Diamond" plan that has no quota and has vpn. This is the one you want if you have a peg leg, hook prosthetic, eye patch, single gold hoop earring, and a parrot on your shoulder. If you buy this, you have more money than sense.

    If you use usenet as originally intended, i.e. text only, the Giganews' price is $3/month. But then there are free nntp servers that carry only text groups anyway.

    Highwinds (Cox's usenet) has always sucked anyway. It was always slow and cantankerous.

    For those of you saying "hurr, use google groups": shut up. The interface is made of dead babies and week old roadkill. Decades old slrn is better.


  • Easynews (Score:2, Informative)

    by mellowdan024 ( 1787282 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:07PM (#31933038)
    it works damn good
  • You know.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:11PM (#31933086)

    ...for a community that loves to bash companies about "buggy whips" and "adapt or die", we sure do love to hold onto our outdated, largely useless tech ourselves, don't we?

    Translation of the previous sentence for the benefit of Moderators: "Please mod this comment down to the 13th level of Hell"

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Informative)

    by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:42PM (#31933464)

    Honest question here. I understand why people would prefer to use a real news reader as opposed to mailing lists or web forums, as they are much better tools for the job.

    Who says usenet and other media such as mailing lists and web forums are mutually exclusive? They aren't. They are nothing more than interfaces to access data. After all, there are services which offer access to the same content wether through mailing lists, web forums and also usenet server. For example, take a look at Trolltech's Qt lists []. Every web forum and mailing list could as easily be accessible through a usenet interface. After all, in the end it's just that: an interface.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Scooter's_dad ( 833628 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:50PM (#31933550)
    You still didn't figure it out. It's "passed ITS prime." No apostrophe.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Informative)

    by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:59PM (#31933640)

    DSL is just as fast as cable, at least the way that residential providers do it.

    I mean, sure, technically speaking a DOCSIS HFC network has higher last-mile capacity than an equivalent DSLAM, but when have either cable or DSL speeds ever depended on anything other than the provider's oversubscription ratio?

    And as for television... Every internet connection comes with TV [] now.

  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @09:07PM (#31934302) Homepage
    For those of us who use only text, paying for usenet is incredibly cheap. When my ISP quit offering usenet, I paid some piddling amount of money to and got 25 Gb worth of usenet access. Two years later, I've only used some miniscule fraction of that 25 Gb. Actually, I'm happier now than I was before. Back when my ISP was still supposed to be providing usenet access, it was unreliable, and when I would call their tech support, I would invariably get somebody who didn't know what usenet was. I got one guy who kept saying that I would have to call the Usenet Company and take it up with them.
  • Re:Prices (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @09:16PM (#31934394) Homepage Journal

    slrn FTW.

    What anyone with sense would do is subscribe to for only 10 euros a year. I guarantee you'll get a better feed than Cox, provided you're not one of those binaries wankers.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Informative)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:00PM (#31934760) Homepage
    Because a clunky web interface controlled by a single provider that has no killfiling, offline storage or syntax highlighting is clearly better than Usenet diversity.
  • by slashgibb ( 1795094 ) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:16PM (#31935240)
    This is actually a very good thing - I've had an encrypted Giganews account for awhile and love it. I went with them when road runner got rid of theres. Giganews just came out with an internet encryption service that comes with unlimited accounts that tunnels all of your internet traffic using VPN. Giganews doesnt just have the best newsgroups service with the longest retention, but theyre also huge advocates for net freedom in general. I don't have cox cable, but Giganews will give better newsgroup access anyway over the free cox one.
  • Eh, whatever. (Score:3, Informative)

    by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:16AM (#31936028) Homepage

    I've been buying Usenet from a provider for ages ( It's better than my experience with ISP-provided news was anyway.

  • Cox situation... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Monsterdog ( 985765 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:51AM (#31936146)
    Actually, it costs Cox to have Usenet on tap, because their Usenet implementation has been outsourced to Highwinds for years. It's moderately annoying to lose it, especially as the overall price won't drop, but what's been lost here is actually no great shakes -- there's low caps on both connections (4) and speed, and the retention is 30 days if you're lucky. No SSL either, which has become pretty standard. Yes, it means paying for an alternative...although it doesn't have to be Giganews. Astraweb works very well, and is fairly low cost on their unlimited plans, and if Astraweb is too costly and you don't care about posting access, there's Cheaper, which has plans starting at $4 a month the last I looked.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Informative)

    by binkzz ( 779594 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @03:27AM (#31936298) Journal

    What features of USENET make it better for obtaining legitimate binaries compared to FTP or HTTP or Bittorrent?

    Speed and availability. You're only dependant on the speed of your usenet provider, which (if you pay for it) is usually very fast. I download far faster from my usenet provider than from any FTP or HTTP I visit, let alone torrents. Plus when something's on usenet, it'll stay there until it reaches your provider's retention. No one can delete it, no moderators, no MAFIAA. Also, torrenting music and videos is illegal where I live, but dowloading them via Usenet is not.

    But binary groups? That is like preferring to get binary files as shar [] email text rather than an attachment. It was a hacked in use and I never saw the appeal apart from piracy.

    HTTP uses the same hack, although its encoding isn't as efficient. FTP is better, but you'd have to know where to find what you want and hope there's some kind of search.

  • Re:What's Usenet? (Score:2, Informative)

    by DedTV ( 1652495 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @04:17AM (#31936494)
    The reason people hold on to the past is because, from an end user standpoint, Usenet is in many ways vastly superior to P2P for pirates or anyone who shares files.

    It's more efficient for end users as well. You can upload a file once, and it's available to be dowloaded, at very high speed (assuming you have a decent Usenet provider) to everyone who wants it almost immediately.
    It also has the benefit of longevity. Most premium Usenet provider now have 300-600 day retention. But many torrents lose most of their seeds within the first couple of months. If you're looking for a file that was posted a year ago, chances are there's few, if any seeders left and you either can't get the file or if you can, it's rarely going to be with any great amount of speed.
    It's far less of a risk to the end user. I've never known anyone to get a DMCA notice from anything they've uploaded or downloaded via Usenet. And Usenet providers don't host many files, they host articles. And it's a pain for a copyright holder to have to compile a list of the thousands of articles that make up the file they want to request removed. Especially if it's a file that's been crossposted to a dozen different groups. For awhile Copyright holders were just requesting that a handful of articles be removed so the files would end up incomplete and corrupt but par2 files make that a lot less effective.

    There's some downsides of course, but Usenet is still arguably a better method for file sharing than P2P.

    However, as someone who both uses Usenet and has Cox, I don't care about Cox dropping Usenet. Their service has always been horrendously slow, with poor retention, poor completion, and horrendously unreliable. And it's not even something they've advertised as a service, at least nowhere I've seen, for many years. Unless you went digging through FAQs to find out if they had it you'd never know it was offered.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton