ISPs who suck, ISP Hall of Shame, Telocity, NorthPoint DSL, DirecTV DSL
ISPs who suck, ISP Hall of Shame, Telocity, NorthPoint DSL, DirecTV DSL
the phone company
Telocity offers Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), broadband over plain old copper wires like the one used for your telephone. As a matter of fact, DSL and POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) are usually provided on the same line. I was intrigued by Telocity because it provided A.) SDSL (Symmetric DSL - 784Kb/sec. upstream, 784Kb/sec. downstream which is good enough for hosting a small web site), B.) DNS name serving, C.) static IP addresses, D.) official acceptance of UNIX® and Linux boxes, and E.) a decent price.
Telocity first started sucking when I signed up in June 2000. They had a little checklist and when it was time to "order the DSL line" (approximately two weeks time), it appears that the provisioning process was so screwed that two weeks would become several months. The sucky thing is that they said nothing until I called them back to get an update on my account status.
After a couple of times of ordering and canceling, Telocity decides not to take orders unless they know they can fulfill them. Wow, what a concept.
The installation dragged on and on (three visits by three different technicians: two from PacBell, one from NorthPoint), the standard DSL headache. However, the do-it-yourself installation was a snap and Telocity even offers DNS name hosting for customers that want to run their own servers.
Telocity service, when it ran, was actually very good. They did have a tendency to lurch from one network outage to another, pretty much on a monthly basis.
One time (late November 2000, shortly after I got up and running) was an unannounced upgrade of their fiber backbone. A customer service supervisor phoned back later and explained that this was apparently a scheduled upgrade, but A.) they neglected to mention it to customers, B.) it knocked out service for 12+ hours, and C.) they didn't bother telling front line customer support. Good teamwork there, fellas!
Another time was a multiple day snafu in mid-February 2001, possibly a router or DNS outage that denied access to large portions of the Internet. No explanation nor apology has been extended despite the fact that I left a trouble ticket open with the specific request that I wanted to know what happened and that I was to be contacted by customer service.
Annoyingly, Telocity did not report service outages on its customer web site.
Patti Hart, Telocity President and CEO, is leaving the company to "pursue other interests." Someone at one of the DSL Reports bboards refers to Elizabeth Fetter as the "wicked witch of NorthPoint."
A rather gloomy development: NorthPoint Communications, the data competitive local exchange carrier (DLEC) files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. NorthPoint blames its failed acquisition by Verizon (NYSE: VZ), the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), who backed out. It's pretty obvious now that data services deregulation has simply given everything to the Baby Bells.
I've been reading the news reports about NorthPoint Communications bankruptcy and guess what finally lands in the mail?
Return-Path: email@example.com Delivery-Date: Sat Mar 24 00:09:56 2001 From: DSL Assistance Team <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Subject: Urgent News About Your DSL SErvice Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 15:03:59 -0800 MIME-Version: 1.0 X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2653.19) Dear Telocity Customer, We are writing with some urgent news about your DSL service. As you may know, NorthPoint Communications installed the DSL line in your home. NorthPoint Communications recently filed for bankruptcy and placed its assets for auction. These proceedings have concluded and the winning bidder who purchased NorthPoint's national network has decided to suspend NorthPoint's network operations immediately. This unexpected event may result in some downtime of service for our customers who had their DSL line installed by NorthPoint. If you are unsure if this affects you, please check the wall jack into which your gateway is plugged. NorthPoint wall jacks are labeled with "NorthPoint." We wanted to inform you right away and to assure you that we are doing everything we can to minimize disruption for you. TELOCITY IS ALREADY TAKING STEPS TO MINIMIZE DISRUPTION Telocity is working around-the-clock with other line providers to enable you to transfer your DSL connection to another carrier we work with regularly. TELOCITY WILL TAKE CARE OF TRANSFERING YOUR LINE TO ANOTHER CIRCUIT PROVIDER Telocity must transfer your DSL line to another circuit provider in order to resume your service. We will take care of this entire process for you. You do not need to do anything at all to activate this process. We will place your order with another circuit provider by the end of today so your service is resumed as quickly as possible. YOU WILL NOT BE BILLED IF YOUR SERVICE IS DISRUPTED You will not be charged for Telocity service during those times when your service may be interrupted. When your account is successfully transferred to a new carrier, Telocity will provide you a credit for one month of service at no charge. YOU CAN ACCESS YOUR EMAIL You can continue to access your email by going to http://webmail.telocity.com. WE WILL KEEP YOU CONSTANTLY UPDATED We will continue to contact you through the postal mail service with regular updates. We have also established a special Web site and 800 number to ensure you receive the most up-to-date information. For regular updates and information, please go to: http://home.telocity.com. The dedicated toll-free number is 877-629-4513. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and we understand this is a frustrating situation. We value you as a customer and will work as quickly as possible to resume your service. We look forward to continuing to serve you. Sincerely, DSL Assistance Team Telocity, Inc.
On Friday, 29 March 2001, at 9:37 A.M. PST, NorthPoint Communications shuts down their DSL network, taking my computer offline.
AT&T (look - another phone company sucking!) bought NorthPoint's DSL network, but unceremoniously 86ed all of the network's customers. Tens of thousands of business customers as well as consumer ISPs like Telocity, EarthLink and MSN get screwed by Ma Bell. Hey, it's the phone company, why would anything ever change?
Here's what landed in my mailbox (that I accessed via webmail) after my DSL connection died four hours earlier.
Return-Path: <email@example.com> X-Received: 29 Mar 2001 21:14:40 GMT From: "DSL Assistance Team" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Subject: Good News: Your New DSL Line Has Been Ordered! Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 13:13:51 -0800 Dear Telocity Customer, We wanted to get back to you just as quickly as possible with an update on our progress to transfer your DSL line to another carrier so you can continue to enjoy your Telocity service. As you know, the NorthPoint bankruptcy ruling last week has caused us to move our existing customers to new DSL lines. As of this morning, Thursday, March 29, 2001, it appears that NorthPoint is shutting down their entire network within the next week, so along with the bad news, we wanted to give you some good news. WE HAVE ORDERED A NEW DSL LINE FOR YOUR RESIDENCE AND EXPECT IT TO BE DELIVERED WITHIN THREE WEEKS. We submitted your order yesterday to Rhythms and we expect to receive confirmation from Rhythms within the next 24 hours regarding your order. We'll make this entire process easy for you, but we want you to know three things about this process: 1. NO HOME APPOINTMENT SHOULD BE NECESSARY. Because we are transferring your DSL line to another last-mile provider, you should not need a home wiring appointment. In order to install your DSL line, the phone company must perform a test at the Network Interface Device (NID), which is typically located outside a house or garage and is where the telephone company terminates your telephone line. If you live in an apartment building, the NID may be located in the basement. In some rare cases the NID is located inside a house or garage, and the customer would have to be home to allow the phone company to access the NID. However, these cases are rare, and we are hopeful that your DSL line can be installed without a home appointment. We will let you know should we need to schedule a time with you for the telephone company to access the NID. 2. YOU NEED TO IDENTIFY A PHONE JACK NEAR YOUR COMPUTER. When NorthPoint initially delivered your DSL service, the existing voice phone jack was converted or a new phone jack was installed near your computer to support the DSL service. That phone jack will not support your new service -- the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier to which your DSL line will be transferred utilizes a new technology that delivers DSL over your existing voice line. You will need to use an existing voice line jack to access your DSL service. You will need to confirm there is a voice phone jack near your computer. You can perform a simple self-check by plugging a phone into the existing jack(s). If you do not hear a dial tone, or if you do hear a dial tone but you have multiple voice lines, you will need to confirm that your voice line is the one we currently have on our records. This is the phone number to which the last-mile provider will deliver your service. If you have further questions or wish to change the phone number on which your service will be delivered, please call Telocity at 877-629-4513, or visit www.telocity.net/update and we will work closely with you to remedy that problem. 3. FASTER SPEEDS LIKELY. In most cases, the DSL speeds with your new last-mile provider may be faster than what you had with your NorthPoint service. With NorthPoint, your maximum speed was up to 784 down/384 up. We are working with Rhythms to transfer your line. The maximum speed with Rhythms is up to 1.5 Mbps downstream and 256 Kbps upstream (remember, the downstream number indicates how quickly you will be able to browse and download files). The potential for faster speed is dependent on several factors including, but not limited to, distance from the central office and the quality of your existing voice line. We are working around-the-clock to enable your service as quickly as possible and to minimize disruption for you. When your account is successfully transferred to a new last mile provider, Telocity will credit your account for one month of service at no charge for your inconvenience. We will continue to contact you with regular updates. We have also established a special Web site and 800 number to ensure you receive the most up-to-date information. Please visit http://home.telocity.com or call the dedicated toll-free number we have established for you at 877-629-4513. We value you as a customer and appreciate your patience as we work to solve this problem. We look forward to continuing to serving you. Sincerely, DSL Assistance Team Telocity, Inc.
Return-Path: <email@example.com> Received: (cpmta 10618 invoked from network); 29 Mar 2001 18:24:21 -0800 X-Received: 30 Mar 2001 02:24:21 GMT From: "DSL Assistance Team" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Subject: URGENT NEWS: Network Going Dark Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 18:23:04 -0800 Dear Telocity Customer, We wanted to get back to you just as quickly as possible with an update on our progress to transfer your DSL line to another carrier so you can continue to enjoy your Telocity service. We are not certain how much longer the NorthPoint network will operate in your neighborhood, so please make sure to read this email to help us make the switch smoothly. DESPITE OUR EFFORTS TO KEEP NORTHPOINT'S NETWORK ACTIVE, THE NETWORK WILL MOST LIKELY GO DARK Throughout this past week, Telocity spearheaded an effort among other ISPs to try and keep NorthPoint's network active so that all customers could be transitioned quickly and without service disruption. We have been negotiating with NorthPoint and its team of bankers in good faith for over a week. Unfortunately, last night, NorthPoint and its bankers decided to significantly escalate the amount of funds necessary to keep NorthPoint's network up for a period of time to make these transitions. In addition, NorthPoint and its bankers have backed away from any guarantees that even if we provided these funds, the network would stay active. NorthPoint's disappointing decision means that it is highly likely that you will experience a service disruption. Telocity and other ISPs remain ready to make a deal with NorthPoint, and if the situation changes we will let you know. We apologize for this inconvenience, and we will continue to do everything we can to minimize disruption for you. PROVISIONING YOUR LINE TO A NEW LAST-MILE PROVIDER WILL ONLY TAKE THREE WEEKS As you know, the NorthPoint bankruptcy ruling last week has caused us to transfer our existing customers to other last-mile providers we work with regularly. We have been working around-the-clock with other line providers to transfer your service, and we have been able to reduce the provisioning time to three weeks. WE WILL OFFER A DIAL-UP SOLUTION TO YOU Because NorthPoint network will go out in phases, we are not certain how much longer the network will operate in your neighborhood. We are working on a dial-up solution so you will be able to surf the web and check your email. We will have the dial-up system ready as soon as we can. If your service is still up, we will email these instructions to you. If your service is down, please call the dedicated toll-free number we have established, 877-629-4513, and our customer care team will give you instructions. We will also have instructions at the special Web site we have established: http://home.telocity.com. WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK-AROUND-THE-CLOCK TO MINIMIZE DISRUPTION FOR YOU We will continue to work around-the-clock to enable your service as quickly as possible and to minimize disruption for you. When your account is successfully transferred to a new last mile provider, Telocity will credit your account for one month of service at no charge for your inconvenience. We value you as a customer and appreciate your patience as we work to solve this problem. We look forward to continuing to serve you. Sincerely, DSL Assistance Team Telocity, Inc.
Amusing trivia: Telocity is using software from Critical Path (NASDAQ: CPTH), a company on the path to critical condition: falsified financial records, SEC investigations, internecine corporate strife, layoffs, shareholder lawsuits. All the things that win FC points.
Hey, I think I figured it out! Those Critical Path execs are on the same prescription as those Verado/FirstWorld/Sirius guys.
NorthPoint President and CEO Elizabeth Fetter is gone, along with 700 Munchkins (71% of employees).
Telocity also has a customized NBCi portal which I did not use. NBC pulls the plug on NBCi (which was ultra-lame anyhow) and says they will roll up their Internet assets back into the mother ship (much in the same way that Disney pulled the plug on their Go.com portal).
Thanks for the FC points!
Go.com sucks. GoTo.com sucks. NBCi.com sucks.
[Trivia: Critical Path hits a new 52-week low, trading at a measly $0.75 per share. They probably increased the dosage.]
Exactly three weeks after promising me that they ordered new DSL service from Rhythms, Telocity reneges. Gee, we're not in that old habit of promising before provisioning, are we?
Return-Path: <email@example.com> Received: (cpmta 6523 invoked from network); 20 Apr 2001 05:17:56 -0700 X-Received: 20 Apr 2001 12:17:56 GMT From: "DSL Assistance Team" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Subject: Urgent News About Your DSL Service Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 05:17:49 -0700 Dear Telocity Customer, We are writing with some important and unfortunate news about your DSL service. As you know, the recent NorthPoint bankruptcy ruling required us to transfer your DSL connection to another last-mile provider. After a thorough review of your order, we have determined that your home is in an area we cannot serve today with one of our existing carriers. Within our national coverage, there are some neighborhoods we are unable to serve until we partner with additional last-mile carriers. Telocity is working vigorously to contract with other last-mile carriers to expand our service area. We hope that within 120 days we'll be able to contact you again with good news and offer you service again through one of our new carriers. We apologize for this inconvenience. To help you as you look for another Internet service provider, Telocity will continue to provide you unlimited dial-up service and continued use of your Telocity e-mail account and web space through the end of May at no charge. In addition, you can take advantage of a special $100 rebate offer if you order satellite-based broadband services through DirecPC(TM). Hughes, our new parent company, will offer high-speed, two-way DirecPC broadband services via satellite to Telocity customers beginning August 1. To thank you for being a loyal Telocity customer, we will offer you a $100 rebate payable after installation and activation, if you order DirecPC and sign up for a year of service. A DirecPC representative will contact you shortly to discuss this opportunity with you. At this time, however, we must unfortunately close your Telocity DSL account. We sincerely regret that Telocity cannot continue to provide you with DSL service at this time. Sincerely, DSL Assistance Team Telocity 4/19/01, 9:12 PM
I guess Telocity is not signing up with new DSL carriers, notably Pacific Bell (SBC Communications) and the possibly doomed Rhythms NetConnections. Both companies provide DSL service to my area (I can see the Rhythms and PacBell tags dangling from the telecom patch panel in my condominium building's utility room).
What's DirecPC? It's the Internet over a satellite dish (the same type that offers DirecTV television programming). Downstream Internet data comes across the satellite signal. Upstream is provided by an analog modem in the set-top box. It's not as good as cable modem or ADSL but it costs more. It's also not available until August 1 (probably be more like Christmas in ISP-speak).
It doesn't matter. I don't have line-of-sight to the southern sky; I have a very pretty grove of birch trees instead.
Former Telocity President/CEO Patti Hart is announced as Chairman/CEO of Excite@Home. Good luck, Patti! You're gonna need it.
Someone phones me at home, a telemarketer. This half-wit speaks like Beavis, makes Jerry Springer talk show guests sound like Nobel laureates. The lamest thing is he doesn't even know what he's trying to sell me, which is DirecPC satellite network connectivity (now that Telocity has been acquired by Hughes). After I point out that I don't have line-of-sight to the southern sky, this very confused person says that I can get a $100 rebate, and then suggests that I sell the satellite receiver for a hundred bucks.
The weirdest thing is that he's not really trying to take an order. He's trying to get me to call a toll-free number (DirecPC sales, I assume). How lame is that? Telemarketing is all about taking an order. You can't let people "think about it". (In fact, this is a good strategy to deal with telemarketers. Tell them you're eating and ask them to call back a couple hours later. They never do.)
After chatting mindlessly with Beavis for a few minutes, I finally say that I want to talk to his supervisor. He says he'll give me toll-free number to talk to a supervisor. I say, "No, you have a floor supervisor; I'd like to talk to that person." Beavis covers his hand over the phone and starts chuckling with other people in the office (I assume one is Butthead); I can hear the "heh-hehs" in the background. He finally puts me on hold and a few seconds later, the connection is cut.
What a bunch of morons.
Telocity has an announcement on their customer web site that says that they have signed a deal with PacBell to provide DSL coverage. No word from them about my account.
My Telocity account appears to be closed now, including e-mail (via POP3 and webmail). Their web site's graphics and copy have been updated to reflect DirecTV/Hughes acquisition of Telocity. The service is now called DirecTV Broadband.
NorthPoint Communications converts its Chapter 11 filing to a Chapter 7, the final straw. I think a Harvard Lampoon guy once wrote, "The only bad publicity is your obituary."
Coincidentally, DHL drops off a prepaid shipping box to return the Telocity DSL modem that I thought they forgot about. The enclosed letter from the Senior Vice President of Service Delivery warns me that I'll be billed $499 if I don't return the modem by July 15. They don't want the power supply or cables.
DirecTV Broadband, the renamed Telocity subsidiary of Hughes Electronics (itself a subsidiary of General Motors), has announced that it will be selling broadband access through the Circuit City chain of stores. This is not the satellite based DirecWay services, but just the DSL offering.
Okay, this is just about Critical Path, Telocity's e-mail software provider: Critical Path (NASDAQ: CPTH) closes the session with a new 52-week low of $0.26 per share, three cents above their intraday low (52-week high is $78.00). Shareholder lawsuits continue to roll in.
Apparently, the old Telocity DSL service is now called DirecTV DSL. Maybe next week it'll be called something else.
DirecTV DSL is calling it quits. Ninety days left for customers to migrate to other providers before the plug is pulled. Buh bye!
DirecTV DSL is starting to pull the plug on some customers.
the phone company
|Last modified on
Tue Dec 2 01:46:14 GMT 2003
|Copyright © 1999-2003 Tara Hertz.
All rights reserved.
ISPs who suck, ISP Hall of Shame, Telocity, NorthPoint DSL, DirecTV DSL