RealTime IT News

Rumors Abound Of @Home Shutdown

Rumors abound over reports @Home , the largest cable Internet service provider (ISP) in the U.S., will shut down its cable network on Friday, a move that could strand millions of high-speed subscribers.

@Home officials, as well as officials from Cox Communications , Comcast Corp. and AT&T Broadband , were unavailable for comment. The three providers all have subscribers from their networks on the @Home service, a holdover from a time when all three participated in an experimental cable ISP experiment.

CNBC originally reported the cable ISP would be closing down its service Friday, while Reuters Online is reporting the shutdown is only a possibility if negotiations with the cable companies fail to cut a deal. @Home has a hearing with the San Francisco bankruptcy court on Thursday afternoon.

@Home, with more than 41 million cable Internet subscribers worldwide, has been the subject of much debate in the broadband community lately. In addition to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, shareholders have been angered over the actions of its board of directors, primarily made up of AT&T executives, to sell the ISP to AT&T Broadband for $307 million.

Talks over the bargain basement rate, which heavily favors the cable network giant and gives shareholders and investors a meager return on their investment, have bogged down in bankruptcy courts since then. Officials at @Home said the company's operations, which are losing money every day, can't keep the service running indefinitely unless emergency funding is made available.

It's a prospect that has many residential cable Internet users worried. Not only would it strand them when the network shuts down, many of the cable companies have yet to implement their own cable ISP services to replace @Home. Some customers are unaware there is a potential problem at all.