Northpoint assets have been sold to AT&T.
March 22, 2001 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Northpoint assets have been sold to AT&T. AT&T plans to keep only the hardware assets. Guess what? Thousands of DSL consumers whose ISPs purchase DSL from Northpoint, could be without service very soon.
posted by andre_111 (14 comments total)
Yeah, bummer. Of course, that's what happens when you have competition in any marketplace. Some companies just aren't going to survive, some will be acquired by other companies which will dramatically change or eliminate the very product or service you love the most, etc.

The good thing is, this lets you out of any long-term service contract you may be in...
posted by kindall at 6:17 PM on March 22, 2001

This is hardly competition. Northpoint was in need of cash and had an agreement with Verzion to merge. Verizon terminated the agreement; Northpoint's stock tumbled and was delisted. Since Verizon is also a DSL provider, it's possible that this was a planned action to eliminate competiton. Don't tell me it doesn't happen. I work for a major DSL company and I know that some of the regional phone companies are hindering competition.
posted by andre_111 at 7:10 PM on March 22, 2001

There could never really be true competition as long as the local telcos still owned the lines. A better way of saying what I was trying to say is that whenever you as a consumer have a choice, there's always a chance you'll make the wrong one.
posted by kindall at 7:43 PM on March 22, 2001

This article paints a pretty dismal picture of the DSL situation. Basically, it states the obvious: the incumbent carriers have no incentive to make the going easy for their competition. They want them to twist in the wind for a while, then die. Expect spotty service and rising prices. This really bums me out. Andre, please tell me that there is some hope for a competitive marketplace.
posted by gimli at 8:31 PM on March 22, 2001

I suspected that the regional phone companies might be hindering competition. Given that they own the lines, that is not surprising....

I had DSL service through an ISP that used Covad, which in turn leased the lines from the phone company.... Anyway, the DSL line went down and my ISP told me that the phone company can't fix the DSL line. When I called the phone company to inquire about getting DSL service from them, there was no problem: they were willing, and suddenly, able to provide DSL service.
posted by poorhouse at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2001

I work for an ISP and I hate dealing with DSL lines. There are too many companies involved; us, the line provider, the telco... it's a mess. I have more faith in cable-modems.
posted by Loudmax at 10:23 PM on March 22, 2001

When Verizon signed the deal with NorthPoint in August, a 55 percent stake in the company was worth $800 million. When it terminated the agreement in November due to the collapsing value of NorthPoint, the company was worth about $400 million. And now all of NorthPoint is bought for $135 million. What a long strange trip it's been.
posted by rklawler at 12:34 AM on March 23, 2001

I'm still a 56k user, but want to upgrade. DSL seems better than cable on paper due to faster upload speeds and a lower likelihood of slowdowns during peak usage. I hoped it would be a no-brainer decision by now, but it seems to be turning into a lesser-of-two-evils tossup. Cable is a monopoly in most localities, and the same may soon be true in the DSL market. The customer loses. Time to look into option 3.
posted by gimli at 5:53 AM on March 23, 2001

I experienced first-hand the type of 'unofficial slow-down' that Verizon had when installing Northpoint DSL. Until the tech decided to show up (on 3 separate occasions), I would get phone calls from Verizon, pitching their DSL service. Despicable.
posted by shinyj at 7:20 AM on March 23, 2001

Cable is by far the lesser of two evils. At this point in time, it's not widespread enough to deal with data bottlenecks from shared resources that everyone claims are so prevalent. Plus, service and installation are easier and faster.

The case against DSL is basically that its a monopoly posing as an open market: no matter what ISP you sign up for, you're relying on your local phone company to hook you up and connect you to that ISP. DSL suffers from shared resources as well, but that happens at the central office rather than in the fiber. Overall, telephone operators have been less prepared to offer broadband services, and independent ISPs are at their mercy. As much as I hate to say this, I'd be extremely wary of signing up for DSL service from anyone but your local telephone company, simply because with the market these days, there's no telling whether or not your ISP or CLEC will be around tomorrow.

As for cable, yes it's a monopoly, and yes, there are sharing issues, but neither seems to be coming into play at this point in time. While there's certainly less choice involved between picking a cable operator or picking a phone company or DSL service, if you subscribe to one of the big five in the US, at least you don't have to worry about your local cable company tanking anytime soon.
posted by rklawler at 8:23 AM on March 23, 2001

DSL seems better than cable on paper due to faster upload speeds and a lower likelihood of slowdowns during peak usage.

Actually, cable's the far better deal if the local cable ISP hasn't oversold their bandwidth. In other words, I agree with rklawler. Anecdotal evidence:

Back in Detroit I got 1.5Mbps down and 300Kbps up for $40 a month with MediaOne (and they paid me two bucks a month to take local channels -- local-only service was $8 a month but just having cable TV dropped the cable Internet cost by $10). I almost always got the advertised speeds, too, even at peak hours. (The back-end bandwidth of a well-designed cable system is not inconsiderable, it's something like 30Mbps per analog TV channel and they can assign users to different channels if one gets saturated.) Here in Seattle I get 768Kbps down and 128Kbps up for the same price from Verizon. To get the same downstream bandwidth here as I had in Detroit I'd have to pay $195 a month. To be fair to Verizon, the DSL install was pretty painless; I qualified for the service without trouble, the install was completed within the specified time frame without requiring a visit to my home, and they actually sent me two DSL modems self-install kits. And really, their deal was as good as any in the area.

It's my thinking, however, that $40 a month for broadband is just too good a deal to last, especially as the applications they're selling it for (streaming multimedia, etc.) really start to take off. Considering that just five years ago you would have paid literally thousands of dollars for comparable bandwidth in most places, it would continue to be a deal even at five times the current price. I mean, you have to admit that a 10 or 20-times speedup for only twice the price of dial-up Internet is a hell of a thing.
posted by kindall at 9:02 AM on March 23, 2001

Unfortunately Gimli, the competition outlook isn't very good.

Most DSL prices decreased down to 39.95 in 2000. Now prices are rising. The lowest price is 49.95 for residential service in most cases. Free DSL known as winfire is dead.

Satellite service has limitations which include, high ping times(bad for online games), some services are only one-way(a modem must be used for upload) and speed can decrease in bad weather.

Also the highest bandwidth for download in most cases is around 400kps. Residential DSL maximum download speeds are around 1.5 mbps.

However, 400kps isn't bad I have DSL and get speeds around 400kps, which is about 10 faster than connecting with my modem at 38.6 kps.

Many rural areas and urban areas cannot get any broadband service. The solution to getting broadband access in your area, may be to provide it yourself. This Georgia town has taken control of their telecommunications system.
posted by andre_111 at 9:39 AM on March 23, 2001

It looks like cable for me, I guess. I just hate the idea of supporting a monopoly. It runs about 50 bucks a month here if you buy the modem, but I'm sure the price will creep up just like it has for TV (up about $6 in the last year).
posted by gimli at 1:54 PM on March 23, 2001

I've had DSL here in SF since PacBell started offering it. I haven't had any problems. I pay $40 a month, and I get the advertised speeds of 384Kbps-1.5Mbps down and 128Kbps up. More often than not I am capable of getting the max speed... the only problem nowadays is some servers i try to access are so bogged down that THEY'RE limiting the speed, not me.

A friend of mine installed DSL 6 months or a year ago, and he didn't use PacBell. I think it was some small ISP that went through Covad. Anyways, his service is basically caving, with download speeds dropping to around 15-20K/sec max, while I'm still flying at near 200. It seems to me that at the moment at least, DSL from the phone company is a perfectly viable option. I don't see why you would choose some small ISP to begin with. I know PB is around to stay...
posted by swank6 at 2:07 PM on March 31, 2001

« Older SF Gate article   |   April 3rd is "Take Back the Net" day. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments