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AT&T Withdraws $307 Million @Home Bid

Executives at AT&T Broadband , citing "significant" breaches to its service contract, announced Tuesday the withdrawal of its $307 million bid for failing Excite@Home.

Ma Bell also announced 500,000 of its customers are now back online, with the rest coming back onboard by the end of the week.

@Home shut down 800,000 AT&T customers Saturday morning in an effort to drive up the asking price for its broadband company, a move that, in the end, only got the attention of the nation's affected users.

The bid withdrawal comes a day after Cox Communications and Comcast Corp. agreed to pay a total $320 million to keep their part of the network up and running until they had a chance to migrate customers onto their own service.

The irony isn't lost on anyone, with Cox and Comcast paying $13 million more than AT&T Broadband's bid just to keep their service running for another three months. But with subscribers leaving @Home's service in droves and AT&T Broadband officials saying its own customers would be back online by the end of the week, @Home's attractiveness has waned considerably.

AT&T Broadband cited "significant" breaches to its service contract, an arguably shaky reason for withdrawing its bid. The bankruptcy court on Friday allowed @Home to shut down any part or all of the network in order to drive up the asking price for the broadband ISP.

Creditors and bondholders think @Home's value includes a billion-dollar price tag, not $307 million. Certainly, both Cox and Comcast's contract extension bear out creditor claims.

Of AT&T Broadband's affected customers, techs are expected to reconnect 640,000 by Tuesday evening, part of its ongoing efforts to migrate its customers over to the new service. So far, they've been able to get 500,000 of its users back online, although they now have a different email address and must begin anew on their home pages.

Customers affected by the cable migration will get two day of access free for every day they go without Internet access, AT&T Broadband officials said. In the event of extended downtime, a dial up account will be given to the affected customer.

@Home officials were unavailable for comment at press time.