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RealTime IT News

AT&T Continues Cable Migration

Scrambling AT&T Broadband technicians have resumed high-speed cable Internet access for 330,000 of the 800,000 customers stranded over the weekend by bankrupt Internet service provider (ISP) @Home's decision to shut down part of its network.

A majority of AT&T @Home customers throughout the country should be back online, according to AT&T Broadband officials, by the end of the week. Executives at Ma Bell continue to negotiate a deal to resume service to the remaining half-million or so left in the dark.

Operating under the assumption that a deal can't be brokered, AT&T Broadband has continued with a migration schedule that it says will get a "majority" of its customers back online. The following is a rough schedule of the region with AT&T Broadband @Home service and when they should be getting service back:

  • San Fransisco and Illinois -- Monday afternoon and Tuesday
  • Denver and Salt Lake City -- Wednesday
  • Hartford, CT; Pittsburgh, Sacramento and the Rocky Mountain region -- Thursday
  • Michigan -- Friday.

So far, only Ma Bell's broadband Internet arm has been shut down, though negotiations continue with other cable Internet providers under @Home's service umbrella.

AT&T Broadband's shutdown is a pointed reminder of who @Home creditors and bondholders hold to blame for the shutdown Saturday morning around midnight.

The broadband ISP has, so far, rebuffed the meager $307 million buyout offer currently on the table. While many close to the situation expected AT&T to make a marginally better offer over the weekend, it was obviously not enough to satisfy @Home creditors.

Until the deal is brokered, AT&T Broadband is looking for new Internet homes (no pun intended) for its nearly one million AT&T @Home customers. The 330,000 customers transferred over the weekend to AT&T Broadband's existing service in Oregon, Washington and metro Dallas, are only a fraction of the total needing service.

Susan Marshall, AT&T Broadband senior vice president of advanced broadband services, said AT&T has been busy finding a new broadband connection for its remaining 500,000 subscribers and should have most of them up and running again by the end of the week.

"We're having good success in implementing our contingency migration plan," Marshall said. "We deeply regret the temporary inconvenience to our Broadband Internet customers resulting from the Excite@Home service shut down, but we're in high gear and driving hard to complete the customer migration to the new network. We're appealing to our customers to stick with us as we add them to a reliable, high-quality network that will serve them well."

AT&T Broadband will have a tough time appealing to its customers, in wake of the confusion and inconvenience caused by the shutdown. Until it strikes a deal with @Home, its customers are unable to access any @Home email or access their Web pages. In the interim, AT&T Broadband is giving its re-established customers an @attbi.com email address.

A caveat added to the end of its update release this weekend is a sure sign AT&T expects to take the blame for the @Home shutdown, at least in the eyes of potential future customers. In a statement, officials said the shutdowns are "expected to negatively impact growth in the company's number of Broadband Internet customers and revenue generating units in the fourth quarter of 2001."

In related news, the other cable operators using @Home's service (including Cox Communications , Comcast Communications and Insight Communications made contingency plans of their own. When the bankruptcy judge made its decision Friday afternoon to allow @Home creditors to shut down the network, it forced everyone to negotiate deals of their own to keep service going.

Everyone but AT&T Broadband was able to strike a deal with the failing ISP.

Charter Communications decided not to sign a deal with @Home, instead transferring 90 percent of its 145,000 @Home subscribers to its own service once the judge handed down his decision Friday.

Dave Barford, Charter executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the remaining 10 percent should be brought into the Charter fold soon.

"We look forward to quickly transferring our remaining customers from Charter@Home to Charter Pipeline once circuits are provided to us by the phone company," Barford said. "As soon as high-speed Internet service is restored in those areas, which will be within a week to four weeks depending on the community, we will notify customers."