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The Courts Government News

CPUC Tells Northpoint To Restart Network 96

cprael writes: "According to San Jose Mercury article, the California Public Utilities Commission has ordered Northpoint to relight their network and provide all California customers service for 30 days. The intent being to allow them time to migrate to a new service in an orderly manner. This is probably the tip of the iceberg in terms of court actions - personally, I expect to see a lot of lawsuits aimed at Northpoint, the ISPs, and anyone else within reach over Northpoint's abrupt shutdown." It will also probably strike at the heart of arguments about how regulated (and by whom) ISPs ought to be.
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CPUC Tells Northpoint To Restart Network

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well said.. for a communist. While we're at it though, let's add government provided health care, electricity, telephone service, cable TV (we just HAVE to have cable.. have you watched broadcast tv lately?), gas, and water. I think everything should just be provided by the government and we should just give our entire paychecks to them in the form of taxes. That'd be a great idea. Then when you want food you just go up to the local government owned grocery store, show your state ID and have them swipe it to see if there is any credits left on your fair share allotment of food.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:23PM (#324622)
    I live in Brooklyn, NY in a neighborhood that the cable companies would like to think doesn't exist and where I have limited DSL availability. I was very pleased with my ISP (Evolving Edge), but this Northpoint thing has me wondering something (besides when my DSL will shut off)...

    Are we trying to enter the information age too quickly?

    Northpoint isn't the only one in trouble, many bandwidth providers are in it deep.
    The TINY, TINY margins on computing hardware can't possibly sustain the general computing hardware industry (PC organ bank).
    Software is still a black art, even to the wizards.

    Have you guys ever stopped to consider that the vast majority of the gains we've made in the computer industry has been the result of two things:
    1. Running in the red and living on capital until we either drive the competition under or our investors come to collect.
    2. A process model of development (hardware AND software) that rewards flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants and brute-force solutions instead of a careful engineering methodology.

    Perhaps we need a technology (bandwidth, hardware, software) crash that pauses Moore's law for 10 years while we take the time to think up elegant and sustainable solutions to the problems we are tryin to solve?
  • Haven't you see the Exploding Whale [] video? Don't you know what happens when you blow up big, dead things?

    Jeez, man. THINK!

  • I think timothy did it a bit more subtly in the department text:
    from the john-galt-networks-inc. dept.

  • Well, in all honesty that would have also meaned removing any EPA restrictions on constructing new power plants as well. People want cheap reliable power but they don't want anyone to build any power plants. Duh. We need to let capitalism flourish again for true deregulation to prove beneficial to the customers. That means we need to learn to look the other way when a company dumps mercury into a stream or smokestacks billow black smoke. It's the cost of doing business. We need to stop whining about it and deal with it. So our kids will have three arms. Think of what our basketball players would be like! Three armed 10 foot giants with 2 pairs of eyes on each side of their skull. They would be unbeatable.
  • Cheap shot, as in $0.63 on the dollar(CAD).
  • The reason the PUC can plausibly, if not practically, tell Northpoint what to do is that Northpoint is a CLEC, and so has particular rights and responsibilties. Northpoint, unlike as ISP, must register with the PUC to get the benefit of being able to demand that ILECs supply it with UNEs (elements of the telephone network it can rent).

    Some ISPs are CLECs because they need to rent local loops, like Northpoint (which is not an ISP, but a wholesaler). Some ISPs are CLECs because they want reciprocal compensation for terminating calls. But there is nothing compelling ISPs to register as CLECs, nor is there any regulatory body that can claim any dominion over ISPs to any greater extent than any other business. What that means is that no precedent is being set here w.r.t. ISPs.

  • Anybody who didn't see northpoint going under 3 months ago and take appropriate action deserves what they got. Jato suffered the same fate. It was pretty clear several months out that they were becoming a FC [].
  • Just think of Ayn Rand's stuff as comic books on the wrong end of the 1 picture = 1000 words equation.
  • Oh, come on. It's far too well thought out and coherent to be Katz.
  • Could we then use the Freedom of Information Act to sue for access to MS code, along with other eveidence of atrocities?
  • Does AT&T have any cable television operations, including cable modem service, going on in any of the affected areas?
  • It's really spelled "evidence". April Fool.
  • Unfortunately they did happen to hold a record for a few domain names etc. More or less was a pain in the ass for me to deal with =(

    I hear you.

    My ISP was also Reflex, and I hosted my primary DNS on that box. I knew that they were going, but I thought I was covered, because I was hosting my secondary DNS on my company's DNS server, whose DSL provider was Concentric. Unbeknownst to anybody at my company, Concentric had subcontracted the DSL to ... tada... Northpoint. In the space of 12 hours, both my primary and secondary DNS went buh bye :-(
  • Anybody who didn't see northpoint going under 3 months ago and take appropriate action deserves what they got.

    What if you were unaware that you even needed to take action? As I mentioned in another post, my own company got fscked by Northpoint. Our DSL contract was with Concentric, and the bills came from Concentric. They never bothered to tell us that they had subcontracted our DSL out to Northpoint. We found that out on Thursday evening when the DSL went away and we called Concentric technical support to find out why.
  • Disclaimer: IANAL, IANAAC, IDKWITA, but here goes:

    Since there seems to be a law requiring them to give thirty days notice, it is entirely possible that the state will pay the operating cost for the next thirty days -- money which will in turn be pulled in from the bankruptcy proceedings. I believe the order of importance during a bankruptcy is the government, primary creditors (like banks, lawyers and accountants), secondary creditors (you and me), then the owners (fat chance). This means that they would be fairly sure of getting their money back.

  • "2001-03-30 22:26:47 California regulator blocks NorthPoint shutdown (articles,news) (rejected)"
  • They knew what the rules were when they sold DSL service in California. Is it too much to expect them to abide by the laws and regulations of California?

    A responsible business executive shuts down the business in an orderly fashion before all of the assets are gone.

  • by Aphelion ( 13231 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @02:59PM (#324639) Homepage
    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- California regulators Friday ordered NorthPoint Communications Inc.'s remaining five employees to upkeep the major internet service provider's operatons and swindle its service providers out of monetary obligations for another 30 days.

    One anonymous official said: "I don't see how a company going bankrupt has anything to do with its service being suspended. This shouldn't happen."

    It remained unclear, however, how exactly operations would be upkept, as the majority of Northpoint's staff has been laid off, and its bills have remained unpaid for over a month. Regulators say they will not pay Northpoint's bills but expect them to provide service anyway.
  • That's sad.. I've walked up and down that street many times and I always thought I was on Howard.
    Thanks =)
  • The bankers and lawyers working to get NorthPoint to stay online. So they can transfer service, seems legit enough but is this going to cost AT&T money?

    This doesnt quite seem right, all of their assetts have been auctioned to AT&T for $135M. They have filed bankruptcy and are going through that process. Where is the money going to come from to stay alive for the next month?

    More reasons to go with Pac Bell.. After my first DSL bankruptcy fiasco I'm just sticking with the company that made a pact with the devil to stay in business. It's no coincidence their address is 666 Howard St, San Francisco..

  • So why can't CPUC just order PacBell to hook up the NP customers who sign up for the service in 5 days instead of 7 weeks.

    Can pigs fly? Only if CPUC orders them to.

  • At first I was happy to be learning how to read, it seemed magical and wonderful. Then I read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I read every word of this piece of garbage, and because of it, I'm never reading again!
    --Officer Barbrady--

  • Same shit happened to me on thursday - my ISP (Reflex Communications) filed for Chapter 7 bankrupcy and just dissapeared. Unfortunately they did happen to hold a record for a few domain names etc. More or less was a pain in the ass for me to deal with =(
  • Have you guys ever stopped to consider that the vast majority of the gains we've made in the computer industry has been the result of two things:
    1. Running in the red and living on capital until we either drive the competition under or our investors come to collect.
    2. A process model of development (hardware AND software) that rewards flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants and brute-force solutions instead of a careful engineering methodology.

    100% correct!

    Except its not just the computer industry.. almost every aspect of technology that was built by our economic model follows the same trend. Nasty, expensive, un-maintainable kluges ALWAYS win over the technically sweet solution, usually for one (or several) of the following reasons:

    1) time to market
    2) short term cost vs long term advantages
    3) standards wars
    4) intellectual property
    5) a gullible public
    6) perenially ignorant lawmakers (who are by definition always behind the technological curve)
  • Which province is that?
  • I was a customer of Reflex Communications until Friday a.m., when I abruptly lost my service. (See story about their bankrupcty []. I'm a bit irked that they filed on Wednesday but I got no advance notification -- or if I did I couldn't read it because I couldn't get to my email. It would be nice if I could get it back on for a couple of weeks while I make a transition.

    Methinks California has more important issues than forcing NorthPoint to stay open..

    of course, they could solve the issue by powering down the state from time to time.. oh.. waitaminute.. nevermind.

  • Maybe it's time to consider state owned and run high-speed internet providers.


    No way.

    No fucking way in hell.

    Take a good long look at your state government, federal government, various departments such as transportation, bureau of motor vehicles, welfare, taxation, etc.. look at how those departments actually run.. then take your meds and come back and say that again.

    If it was left to the government, we'd just now be getting those new kickass 4800bps modems. And you would probably be paying $0.01/packet tax to boot.
  • Dude...

    You are a karma whore!
  • by jcarl ( 37836 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @02:56PM (#324651)
    According to _2.html, there doesnt seem to be anyone left to turn on the lights. the remnants of what was NP only exist to continue a $1B suit againt Verizon.
  • SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Methinks California has more important issues than forcing NorthPoint to stay open..

    You mean, like how to keep California from sinking into the ocean under the weight of its bloated government bureaucracy?

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:19PM (#324653) Homepage Journal
    Man.. you would figure the California public utilities commission would have enough on it's plate at the moment! "Damn, my ISP just went down.. guess that UPS I bought wasn't the only thing I needed to do to guarentee my 24hr/day mp3 snarfing abilities."
  • *sits down at the fire, puts his cane down*

    Why, I remember waaay back when the state *did* run the internet. Let's see, it must have been what, 10 years ago. It was an aweful mess. I mean where would we be without the lovely corporations like AOL, Network Solutions, @Home? They are just so much more productive then the National Science Foundation (or for us Canadians, BCNet, OntNet, etc.) Oh yes, thank the gods that now when something goes wrong, I have to track down the little local ISP that owns the domain, find out that they no longer own the domain, but that noone remembered to update the technical contact, or worse get a "Sorry the number you have reached is out of service".

    Seriously, having worked professionally in both environments, I found the old regulated system to be much easier on the nerves. Most of the people running them were at least competent, if not outstanding, since there wasn't 100 companies competing for their services. You knew when you called the CAnet NOC that you were gonna get someone with a clue. When was the last time you tried to find someone with a clue in @home land to deal with something like a BGP peering problem?

    Remove the rocks to send email
  • Well, perhaps my expectations have dropped too low given problems I've had in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Telocity (my ISP on top of Northpoint) had, within 3 days, managed to get a contract with a national dial-up provider so that customers like me could still get on the 'net. Unlimited dial-up, no extra charge and they aren't charging us until they get DSL back up. Good thing, too, since my backup dialup access method only provides 10 hrs/month without those pesky hourly fees...

    They say they'll have another DSL carrier for us in 3 weeks or so.

  • So, does this mean that the CEO of Northpoint can lease a single DSL line from PacBell (or whoever) and provide a "rolling DSL" to his customers? Can you imagine rolling the connection across 1000+ customers?
  • seems like that's a rather expensive undertaking, relighting a network. I don't think there's just some big Frankenstein-like switch that can be thrown.

    "No, it's I-gor."

  • Fountainhead... Gary Cooper reads his way thru the script, and Patricia Neal does a pretty good job.

  • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:05PM (#324659)
    How dare those Northpoint employees leave their jobs without taking care of the customers. So what if there's no money left for payroll - serves them right for running such a crummy company.

    While we're at it, let's get that sock puppet back on TV and start pumping out the pet goodies retailing at 50% of cost. Consumers have a right to underpriced goods - it's the Priceline way! (you knew it was only time until Shatner ran for Gov!)

    And if Nevada and Oregon don't want to continue to provide Californians energy at the price Californians named, then what are those National Guard folks doing sitting around? Fire up the tanks, we've got a green economy to fuel!!!

    And I thought there weren't any plans to make Atlas Shrugged into a movie...

  • Actually, it's 666 Folsom...
  • How dare you call it "their made up language"! It is obviously a tribute the the great Swedish Chef, one of the best muppets of all time (it's true, even if there are hundreds of other best muppets of all time).

    Here's a couple other places that speak Swedish Chef, and can make /. even more fun!

    the Dialectizer []

    the Encheferizer []


  • Why would their customers have necessarily known that the company was in trouble? I hadn't even heard of northpoint until yesterday.
  • I don't know how it is in the US, but in Australia we have a telco system that has a whole heap of regulations and standards that must be followed. For instance anyone who is doing the wiring of phone lines in your house must be Austel approved. This is because obviously telecommunication is seen as a neccessary part of everyday life. I would like to see similar rules and regulations, as well as standards compliance checks (AusInt??) to apply to all isps. The internet isn't a fad, it's a way of life for more and more people these days, so why not impose on it similar conditions as those imposed on a telco.
  • Incredibly well put ;)
    I was about to scream "READ ATLAS SHRUGGED" and then you brought it home

  • Wiring a phone line isn't difficult to do. So how much do they rape the Australian consumer for installing a second phone jack?
  • Nasty, expensive, un-maintainable kluges ALWAYS win over the technically sweet solution...

    Two more cases in point:

    2. Internationalized domain names

  • Actually, the claim order is govt. debt that IS NOT discharged by bankruptcy (payroll taxes, etc.).

    Next is secured debt. That is debt that has been collatorilized(sp) with "stuff". These debt holders can usually take equipment and other property to repay their debt.

    Last is pretty much everyone else. It's up to them to get in line and scrap for what's left over. They get to plead their case in bankruptcy court for their share of the leftovers.

    Depending on the size of the business and the amount of money involved the court will either let the business deal with doling out any money and close it's doors. If there is a substantial amount of money (or you get a zealous judge) the court can appoint a truste to take care of all of the business's affiars in closing the doors.
  • by xant ( 99438 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @05:14PM (#324668) Homepage
    The more regulation, the more chance the ISPs will be awarded common carrier status. Which means they can't be told to shut down a user because of what he's posting, and the spinelessness of ISPs will cease to be a barrier to free spech on the Internet. If the user paid, he gets his 'net time.

  • When ISP service becomes a legal right instead of a luxury service, I think it's safe to say that the Internet has taken its place as a fundamental part of life in society.

  • by cybermage ( 112274 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:58PM (#324670) Homepage Journal
    When ISP service becomes a legal right instead of a luxury service, I think it's safe to say that the Internet has taken its place as a fundamental part of life in society.

    Ahhh... but at what cost? Everything in life, down to the basic elements of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water are regulated by goverments both local and national.

    If the government now sees Internet access as a right, God help us. You see, each government, from the smallest local one, to the U.N. believe they are legislating to the benefit of their constituents, but clearly they don't all share the same ideology. It will be impossible for businesses to comply with (or probably even be aware of) every regulation at every level of government in every place where they do business (thanks to the Internet.)

    Remember the story of Yahoo vs France over Nazi memorabilia. That's not even the tip of the iceberg. It's just a slight dip in the water temperature caused by a giant iceberg over the horizon.

    Never be happy that the government thinks something is fundamental or important. Nothing good can come of it.

  • "Excuse me sir, may we come in?"
    "Who are you?"
    "We're from the CPUC"
    "The who?"
    "The California Public Utilities Commision."
    "Come again?"
    "Sir, we have a court order - you have to reboot your computer."

    ...I'm guessing you coule have named this one better, timothy: "CPUC Tells Northpoint to Restart Network" is kinda misleading...

  • "Excuse me sir, may we come in?"
    "Who are you?"
    "We're from the CPUC"
    "The who?"
    "The California Public Utilities Commision."
    "Come again?"
    "Sir, we have a court order - you have to reboot your computer."

  • Quebec, I think. I know there's a subsidy for dialup net access that ends in about 15 minutes...

  • Northpoint is regulated because Northpoint is a Competing Local Exchange Carrier, which is a form of telecommunications carrier. So the Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction.

    Second, Northpoint filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is "protection from creditors". That doesn't dissolve all obligations they have, it just means they can put off paying some bills for a while.

    So it's entirely appropriate for the CPUC to issue an order of the type they did.

  • Why does everybody always have to make things so complicated? What's the point of ISPs, or those special internet connections anyway? This is my idea: get a lot of people to put special mirrors on their roofs, and act as relays while everybody shines lasers at them. Or, a more covert laser communication system is to give every person in the world a number. When you want to transmit that number to others all you do is shine a laser in the eye of the person with that number. They read about it, or see it somewhere and think "Oh, #9457438470 is blind, somebody is sending me the word the" Granted it would take a lot of time and people to send big MP3s or movies, but it would be worth it. Or if that does not work, just have really loud people yelling out the packets. But those can phones are still the best. Something else I'd like to say (offtopic, but don't hate me for this).
    Has anyone looked at the different languages supported by Google []? By personal favorite is their made up language named "Bork, bork, bork!". Check out Google prefs in Bork,bork,bork [] for an example. This is my default now
  • by jailbrekr2 ( 139577 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:16PM (#324676) Homepage
    Until high speed internet access is defined as an essential service (as it is in Canada), the courts cannot force a bankrupt company to rupture even more money and turn the network back on.

    Hmmmm. Yet another example of the dangers of de-regulation (or no regulation) of what is considered an essential service????? Haven't those silly Californians learned their lesson yet?

  • "The businesses and households cut off by NorthPoint probably won't be able to get hooked up to another high-speed online connection for at least a week if Northpoint doesn't restore the service, according to Pacific Bell, a DSL rival and California's main phone company."

    Who do they think they're kidding? Last August-October, it took Pacific Bell 7 weeks to simply move my DSL service from one house to another. The new house was even connected to the same phone switch as the old house.

  • Err, shouldn't your mainc concern be power to RUN the computer that's connected. Hell, even a 14.4 won't do you any good during a blackout, heh.
  • I can tell you that your priority list is slightly skewed. The first claim on any money at all belongs to the lawyers. Whether they be government lawyers or otherwise. They all get their fill before anyone else.
  • What good is your DSL service, Mr. Anderson (long dramatic pause) if you have no electricity?

    Kinda ironic that these idiots still are still around.

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • They want to deregulate water next. The US is going to be a third world nation pretty soon. No power, no water, no internet service. Us Canadians are still cool though, the Americans give us something to laugh at.

    Oh well..

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • Fine,

    But we have electricity. Wanna compare cost of living and standards of living conditions?

    Why is Canada the best place in the world to live, and is given this label by the UN year after year?


    Bring it on . . .

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • Great, thats all we need is more of the CA government's great regulation. Perhaps they could force companies to charge a fixed rate to consumers for internet access as well as electricity, yet force them to pay the market price for their resources. It all makes sense if you live there I guess.
  • Any ISP offering DSL service is almost certainly regulated already because most of the DSL providers just move into switch thats already there. Where I live, Qwest owns all the switches, but they have the fun of sharing them with other companies such as DTG or Mcleod because they are considered a monopoly if they do not. When you become that intertwined with a large multi-national phone company, Im sure there are many federal regulations you must live by. Anyone who knows if Im correct, please post.

    As for deregulation, those 'silly Californians' wouldn't be in near the crunch they are had there been a true deregulation of the power utilities.
  • One thing that the article left out is that the CPUC actually has some power in this (their gesture is not entirely symbolic at this point). If the CPUC is unhappy they can refuse to approve the transfer of Northpoint's assets (see a copy of the CPUC's ruling [] at This would, naturally, be a significant roadblock in the AT&T deal, which is the only thing that will let Northpoint's creditors even see pennies on the dollar. So, if the CPUC holds firm, some amount of justice will be done. Read the coverage [] of the negotiations between the ISPs and Northpoint to fund a more orderly transition. The reason it did not happen is that the bankers and other creditors of Northpoint got greedy. They wanted to take lots of the ISPs' money without giving any guarantees about the level or length of service they would provide for a transition.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @06:59PM (#324686) Journal
    Let me look at this. The idea of regulating ISPs etc presents the possibilities for certain legal precedants

    Question: under the .NET program, would Microsoft be an ISP and/or similar service provider?

    If MS becomes wildly successful with the .NET initive, and if it is a monopoly as ruled in court, does this legal action open the door to the government takeover of Microsoft down the road, in the Public interest, since they are a monopoly, since they will have made themselves essential to the welfare of America?

    [Insert Fantasy sequence] And further, under such a take over, could they regulate the quality of code? such as making it some sort of criminal offense to write code with an excessive number of bugs. - think of it - microsoft code being reviewed and managed like they do it for the Space Shuttle []. (see original story here [].)

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • You just said it. The shareholders sold the company before honoring their liabilities. If the regulators' legal advice is sound, I assume AT&T bought something that the shareholders have no right to sell. What happens is the same thing as when you sell someone your house that has been
    under lien to the IRS. The guy who bought it is a fool. isn't 135M enough to maintain service for 30 days?
  • hmm. Interesting, how come the cities that kept their electicity under municipal control have been least affected by the shortage?

    And your view is also very scientific. A is a problem. You claim B is the solution. we try B and it makes things worse. Whose to blame? Anything but B.

    look at it another way. the claim: the government failed to deregulate in the 'right' way. Why we want the government to deregulate? Because the government is a bad manager. So if good deregulation depends on good management of the deregulation process, and if we assume that government is not capable of good management, and if we assume that bad deregulation is worse than regulation ( we now know that de facto, both California and on a bigger scale Russia prove it), shouldn't we advice government not to deregulate under such risks? So why did the economists come out with the opposite advice? Maybe because they weren't concerned about what is good for Californians but about what is good for the energy companies that fill their pockets to make them sing in the right key.

  • sorry, a botched deregulation is a deregulation, just as a botched open heart surgery is an open heart surgery.

    When you recommend a treatment, you must factor in the risk of failure, if you are honest.

    You may have had a point if the deregulation in California had been carried out by some tongue in cheek socialist. It wasn't. It was designed and carried out by a cohort of republican and "new democrat" politicians, business officials, and economists. They botched it, and now they say, "this is not what we meant by deregulation". Sounds like whining to me.

    Besides, sciencific theories can be proven wrong. The theory that deregulation is always good for consumers seems like a theory that cannot be possibly proven wrong, because, every time deregulation fails, it isn't "really" deregulation ( see, Russia, California, etc.) Show me one example of a real failed deregulation that should not have been attempted and I will take you more seriously.

  • I'm not sure of the details, I just started dealing with Telocity/Northpoint a couple weeks ago when I moved into a house with a shared DSL line, but apparently, but apparently customers were under the impression that network operations would continue after they were bought. Now, if they had been planning to cut the network off before, they should've warned people. Instead, one day a lot of people just found themselves without net access. Two weeks later we get a press release or whatever the fuck they want to call it. Companies should at least have some common fucking courtesy.
  • by logiceight ( 187269 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:24PM (#324691)

    I am currently with covad but I am not worried about them becoming bankrupt becau

    DSL service terminated

  • Actually, They have no powers one a firm files for bankruptcy protection in federal court.

    All the power is in the hands of the federal bankruptcy judge/trustee. CPUC can pass all the votes if wants, they are non-binding, the judge decides all issues. He also has the power to void almost any government regulation and modify the terms of almost any existing contracts. Unfortunately this means Northpoint's DSL services will most likely remain shutdown.
  • I think we're beginning to see the reality that is becomming apparent. As web access and online services, businesses, and communities, begin to flourish, we are becomming increasingly dependant on providers. Schools all have access to the web, and my own provincial government is spending $1000 CND on each family to help them get a computer and online.

    But if we are going to make access to the web available to all, under certain conditions, we don't want to have it regulated right? Well, I think that's becomming less and less of a possibility. Just as governments control radio and television, it seems that the only way to gurantee the infrastructure related to high-bandwidth connections at home is to have the industry responsible to a body of some sort. Now the industry can't exactly police itself can it? Does it need policing at all? The questions will only come in time.

    I think I thought I thought I think.

  • AT&T bought all of NP's networking assets and started to yank them out of the CO's, which exsplains why the NP network is going dark. The ISP I work for lost 500 customers with 24 hours notice - We went to a CO and saw the AT&T guys removing the kit. So, let's attack AT&T...
  • And are you a Swedish chef?
  • Or how about we just get it right this time and find some company that's willing to provide residential customers with ethernet or fiber. There's enough money in California to generate demand, I can't imagine DSL is going to keep people placated for long. I'm moving out to work there in a few months, and my primary criteria is bandwidth availability. Will someone help me?

  • Everything in life, down to the basic elements of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water are regulated by goverments both local and national.

    But what about Ether?
  • Just to comment as a now-ex Northpoint feed user:

    1. I was aware of Northpoint's bankruptcy.
    2. I was also aware of Northpoint's threat to take legal action again block switchovers.
    3. I was also aware of the ISP negotiations ongoing with Northpoint that, as of mid-day Weds. (last time I checked) were looking promising.
    4. My first expectation was that Northpoint's customer base would be sold to another company as an "existing asset".
    5. My second expectation was that, failing sale of the asset, my feed provider (RCN) would receive sufficient notice that we could reprovision in a rushed-but-orderly manner.

    What I did NOT expect was that:

    1. Northpoint's bankers would abruptly try to screw everyone involved at the last minute.
    2. Northpoint would void their own legal statements (that they were trying to preserve the customer base as a bankruptcy asset).
    3. Northpoint would immediately destroy a major asset (their customer base) in a fit of pique.
    4. The Bankruptcy court would ALLOW Northpoint to destroy a major asset.
    5. Northpoint, as a regulated carrier, would ignore state law to execute their shutdown.

    You tell me - I had a reasonable expectation of an orderly transition period. I didn't get an orderly transition, I got NUKED.

  • Knowing NorthPoint, restarting the network will be harder than starting a Ford Pinto in sub-zero temperatures with sugar in the gas tank!
  • personally, I expect to see a lot of lawsuits aimed at Northpoint, the ISPs, and anyone else within reach over Northpoint's abrupt shutdown.

    And all of those lawsuits will end up with the plaintiffs getting nothing, because NorthPoint is pretty much bankrupt. How much? I quote from a former NorthPoint employee's comments to []:

    "Somehow NorthPoint officials decided that they are NOT going to pay employees any vacation balances exceeding 25 hours. That's right, three days!!! No severance package of any kind. This is the thanks one gets after their hard work and dedication for the past two years. But somehow in the midst of all this, [NorthPoint CEO] Liz Fetter still manages to receive a $45,000 bonus tomorrow."

    NorthPoint will use up the remainder of their money to pay Liz Fetter. No severance to former employees, and no possible settlements or payouts as a result of filed lawsuits.

  • As a former Winfire subscriber, I can feel the pain of Northpoint subscribers. However, there is an unfortunate chain of events that these ISP failures seem to have in common. Step One: Company runs out of money and expects suppliers to continue supplying without payment. Step Two: Company, with even less money, is unable to continue payment for their infastructure. Step Three: Company goes bankrupt. Network shutdown happens either before this or shortly afterward. Step Four: Subscribers are left in the dust. Regulatory agencies and upset consumers can stomp their feet all they want. But a sad truth remains. Who is going to bring the networks back up when they are ordered to? The company has laid off the people who could do such a thing. There's no money to hire consultants to do it. The only option seems to be government bailouts. I find this option to be unlikely to be exercised. It is my belief that ISP's should be required to carry insurance policies or trusts. Many other industries have this sort of requirement. Although ISP's do not perform the same type of inherently dangerous activities as these other industries, this would be a smart option. Companies who receive large amounts of money from going public or from venture capitalists should be required to take a portion and purchase insurance or set up a trust account for their subscribers. The payout or subsequent income could help keep customers connected while the filthy details of bankrupcy, reorganization, or disbandment are taking place. This is not the only solution, but it is clear that something must be done. The promise of broadband is a wonderful one, but responsiblity and fair consumer practices must take center stage when a company decides to throw its hat into the fracass. Just my two cents.
  • When I first read the headline "CPUC Tells Northpoint To Restart Network" (as opposed to "Re-start"), I thought that it literally said 'restart', as in like: "reboot already!"
    That's pretty funny: "CPUC Tells Northpoint to Reboot, Please".

    No? Well maybe that's why I'm not a moderator. (At least not on this thread anymore :])

  • I've been contracting to a US government agency for the last 8 months, and I'm seriously considering cheating on my taxes. If you knew how the government spends your money you would never pay taxes again. Here is an example. The US government has the idea that it needs to help small business. So any contract decision is supposed to favor small businesses. We ordered a copy of Backup Exec about two months ago. In private industry you just get on the website of your favorite store and buy it. Here is our story. First there is a week of paperwork to be done and a few authorizations to be obtained. Next the order goes from our office in NYC to the contracting office in Philadelphia. It sat there for the last two months. On wednesday they called us and said we couldn't order it from because it wasn't a small business. Even though they had a GSA contract. The same crap happens with computers. We're a Dell shop and get all our quotes from Dell's website. The process is the same except the contracting office in Philly usually goes to a reseller to order the computers. Don't know how much it costs. No extra tech support. Just have to make sure they go thru a small business no matter how much it costs.
  • A state-owned ISP works great until someone starts bitching about things like child-porn and warez being bandied about. Then it's all bad...

  • by aethera ( 248722 ) on Saturday March 31, 2001 @03:17PM (#324705)
    The most interesting precedent I see being set here is that this decision is coming down from a utilities commision. In most cases I don't think the government can or should be able to force a company to stay in business, but utilites, like phone, electric and water are a notable exception. These businesses can't just shut off services because what they provide is so necessary to basic needs.

    It is really interesting to see this same idea being equated with ISPs. If anything, it shows how important and and integral part of our lives the internet has become. So in this case, I agree with the State of California. Northpoint provides a valuable service that is a necessary part of economic survival for many businesses. They can't just pull the plug.

    Of course, a similar situation has occurred in the past when the government has forced striking workers back to work, or that failing, manned their positions with soldiers. Sergeant Sys Admin anyone?

  • Ah yes, the "People's Kleptocracy of California". If you were a utility (of any sort) would you willingly choose to do business in this state? Anyway, they do have a good point. I should be entitled to free plumbers, lawyers and food. After all, let the "big corporations" pay for it. Bread, circuses and $300 tax rebates, baby that's what its all about. Gad have we really fallen this much as a country??

  • Don't worry timothy, you got first post. You have time to give it a once-over before you put it up.

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house"

  • All I here is how bad the broadband internet access is in the USA or Canada, My heart bleads for all of you, At least you have a chance at broadband unless u live in one town in Ireland which our Telecomunications company was testing broadband you haven
  • I don't see what the big problem is. After all, California has managed to legislate free electricity into existence from nothingness. Free network support and uptime with no employees or cash should be just a easy, given a sufficiency of lawyers and and paperwork.

    Meanwhile, in the real world.....

    "free" in this cases does not mean "Free" as in either speech, software, or beer, but rather means "free" as in "you get what you pay for". In other words: nothing.

  • This is probably off topic. Bite me.

    Nasty, expensive, un-maintainable kluges ALWAYS win over the technically sweet solution...

    I totally beg to differ. It depends on what the victory conditions are. If the goal is to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible with the absolute minimum of initial outlay, then kludges have a distinct advantage. At least in the short term. But that doesn't always mean they 'win'.

    If the goal of the project is the project itself instead of profitability, then kludges are a distinct disadvantage. It's the "Software as Art" vs "Software as Business" thing.

    Sometimes stuff done for the sake of being done well also 'wins' in the business model as well. This is usually unintentional, but take your victories as they come. The first example that comes to mind (this being Slashdot) is the Free Software movement. Granted, there are still a lot of kludges in most open source projects, but at least they're elegant kludges. Granted also, there's still a lot more Microsoft machines out there than Linux (or freeBSD or openBSD or whatever), but the numbers are growing and the game is far from over.

  • State Owned Industry == Communism

    State Run Industry == Fascism

    This is true. Look it up. And we all know about the success histories of both forms of government.

    Like some others here, I used to work in government contracting. What a nightmare that was. It was definately "Your Tax Dollars at Play". And with our government, your tax dollars like to play Dodgeball. On one contract, we were required to partner with one of our competitors because they qualified as a "small business" and we did not. They had almost a hundred employees. There were only eight of us. We had to split the budget 50 / 50, but we were expected to do all the manufacturing while they "managed" the project. By the time we worked out all the contract terms and budgeting stupidity (and paid a lot of money to the lawyers), we only had two months left of the original twelve to actually complete the contract and only a third of the original budget.

    When a private company performs badly, you can allways take your business elsewhere or start your own company to do things properly. It can be very difficult and messy if you try to do the same thing with government.

  • You get a all expense paid trip to the land of NO INTERNET SERVICE. And as a bonus you get to dust off your analog modem and reinstall it and download a copy of doom at 300baud. And lastly for our runner up contestant you get a voucher to get ripped off by your local pawn shop where you will be at to sell your dsl equipment.
  • Customers really had no way to know this would happen. See - NorthPoint's Bankruptcy Burns Customers: After Verizon scuttled a pending merger, the DSL provider strong-armed customers to keep them from leaving - but now it's leaving them high and dry. [] Northpoint lied to ISPs and threatened legal action if they tried to switch customers. Most end customers probably had no idea this was going on since their contracts were with their ISP not Northpoint. Those that did know of Northpoint's problems had a reasonable expectation that their service would continue in some form when Northpoint was sold. The original poster's attitude is reflective of much of the Ayn Rand-ish liberatarian capitalist drivel seen all too often on Slashdot. Northpoint applied for and obtained licenses from state PUCs around the country that allowed them to operate what is legally considered a utility. It definitely does have legal obligations to it's customers, including the obligation of notice of termination. Now if Northpoint had simply run out of cash and had no buyer at all, those obligations would be moot for all practical purposes. That is not what happened here. AT&Ts purchase of Northpoint was conducted under the auspices of a bankruptcy court which apparently chose to disregard Northpoint's legal obligations to it's customers. I am sure that the court felt is was correct in doing so as bankruptcy courts generally only consider the interests of creditors, but this does point to a serious disconnect public utility licensing and bankruptcy laws. The court should have factored in the cost of giving customers proper notice into the overall settlement with Northpoints creditors. DSL customers did not deserve what they got. If anyone did it was the investors and banks who poured millions into what was apparently a very poorly run business.
  • This order only affects Northpoint's California customers. Unfortunately, they had about sixty thousand customers outside of California (mostly in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Illinois). Those people are out of luck.

    Maybe it's time to consider state owned and run high-speed internet providers. Increasingly, it looks like private enterprise is unable to meet the needs of the public for reliable high-speed connectivity, especially in less populated areas of the country. The way things have been going recently, the only way a substantial portion of the population is going to get dependable broadband is if the government steps in and provides it.

  • Ron E, Where are you, I miss you so much...
  • Bullshit. Get some facts.

    1. AT&T bought the physical assets of Northpoint AT AUCTION in the bankruptcy court. They didn't buy the customer contracts. (Northpoints customers were the DSL providers that then went and sold DSL service to you. People like Concentric, Telocity, etc.)

    2. The sale to AT&T won't close for 60 DAYS (See press releases and news stories). Hence until the deal closes (say around June) AT&T has no say in how the physical assets are used until then.

    3. A reality of life is that this is a preview of what could still happen to Covad and Rhythms based DSL providers. Look at their stock and see how much they have declined as well. The DSL business model is inherently unstable. Gather round children and learn:

    There are, in most places, only 4 providers of DSL:

    The LEC (Pac Bell, Verizon, SBC, Bell South, etc)



    The late Northpoint

    That's it. All these clowns advertising DSL typically buy their DSL access circuits from one of the latter 3 providers listed. (A very few buy from the LEC's) If the one your provider uses is Northpoint, well, you are looking at a blank screen now.

    Now, the DSL wholesaler (Northpoint, Covad, Rhythms) buys local loop access and co-location space in each Central Office from the local LEC in most cases. They also have to buy backbone access from a national carrier. Finally, they have to cover the cost of marketing, tech support, etc.

    The problem is, that for this kludge to work, Northpoint and the others have to run their whole operation on about 1/3 of the $30-$50 a month most people are probably paying for DSL. That's bad enough, but a number of the customers of Northpoint (and the other 2) have filed bankruptcy themselves. (See Flashcom).

    This model, in the end, doesn't work. AT&T is convinced of this, that's why they didn't buy the wholesale contracts that Northpoint had. Those contracts are pretty much worthless. They think it makes more sense to try to have to only pay the LECs for the right to use the wire and the CO's rather than pay a wholesaler (like they do now) in addition. I suspect that over time, that's what we are going to see in the DSL game.

    Of course, the California PUC is going to use their magic wand, to ignore the realities of the market. I understand that after fixing DSL, their next trick is to turn lead into gold.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"