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Thread: In a pickle: EarhLink dropping Atlanta DSL

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Marietta, GA
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    Default In a pickle: EarhLink dropping Atlanta DSL

    As if I don't have too many problems to deal with right now as it is, I just got this letter in the mail:

    "Dear EarthLink Customer,

    Due to unforseen circumstances your EarthLink Internet service will no longer be available at your address after September 17, 2020. To avoid a service interruption you will need to find a new provider before September 18, 2020."
    W, T, and/or F?!

    You know, there IS a pandemic going on, and people are more dependent on their internet service than ever before.

    Oh, it continues

    Great News! Your address qualifies for the EarthLink HyperLink product as speeds up to 1 Gbps. To switch to this new, faster product please contact us as (phone number)
    Well, perhaps they do know and are raping my wallet for more money.

    Then some junk about e-mail
    To minimize the disruption you can keep you [SIC!] EarthLink Email account for $4.95 per month.

    If we do not hear from you before September 18, 2020 we will automatically adjust your account to reflect your new Premium Email status.

    We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to find you a solution that fits your needs.

    Please contact us at (phone) with any questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    The EarthLink Customer Care Team
    More like, the EarthLink DON'T Care Team. But it has been like that for a long, long time.

    Don't care about the e-mail. I never even use that. It looks like they did send an e-mail about this a few days earlier.

    How can they get away with this? If it were long term notification like 6 months or a year, or a migration, I could sort of understand. But they are just up and pulling the plug. (A quick web search suggest some other people that got this don't even have the "HyperLink" option.) I can't just go to the library right now! They do offer dial-up as a backup, and being the sort of person I am, I have tested that every now and then, but practically speaking it is only useful for checking e-mail.

    Yea, perhaps a little embarrassing sticking with these idiots for so long. They used to offer bundled NNTP newsgroups that was worth it for a while. But they took that away from me some number of years back, not that it mattered as by that time it was mostly electronic tumbleweeds there anyway.

    So, I'm going to be researching frantically, but I have a very hard time finding answers to simple questions these days.

    So the questions I have are:

    Is something changing here that would prevent some other reseller from providing me with DSL?

    Anyone have any idea what the actual deal with this change is?

    Supposedly, fiber is finally available in my area, but will that force me to get rid of my lovely, wonderful, perfect, POTS telephone service? (A couple of people I sort of know/knew switched to fiber and had to have some nasty unreliable digital telephone gadget installed that sort of badly emulates a normal telephone).

    Fiber service is from AT&T but some people suggest other resellers. Any recommendations?

    Do those fiber telephone emulation boxes support modems, dial-up, or fax machines? (Obviously dial-up as an emergency backup would be pointless if the fiber connection were down)

    How exactly does one get "fiber" installed anyway? All I have running in to my unit is cable and telephone wires. BTW, I swore I would never give comcast another red cent after ditching cable TV a long, long time ago.

    Any ideas are very much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2007
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    Default

    About POTS service--we dropped that years ago in favor of VoIP. We had VDSL2+ service and POTS, until I started talking to the techs servicing the local (fiber-connected) terminal. We'd only kept POTS because of guaranteed service if the power went off. Turns out that was quietly downgraded to <1 hour based on the battery capacity in the terminal. The techs verified that the connection with the CO was TCPIP and the exorbitant charge for POTS service was basically a change to use their VoIP box in the terminal.

    Went to a dry loop immediately and use a Obihai Voip-to-POTS box. There are lots of VoIP providers around--and they all seem to be cheaper than the telco. No regrets after 4 years--actually better features, including junk call rejection via a web interface control panel.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2012
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    Augusta, Georgia, USA
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    That's a bummer, but I am surprised Earthlink DSL still exists at all. You are probably stuck with AT&T for DSL (I could never recommend that terrible company) or one of the cable companies. Here in Augusta we are blessed with two cable companies, so at least they have to compete a little. I used to have to switch back and forth between them every couple of years to keep costs down, but finally 4 or 5 years ago, WOW cut me basically a perpetual deal they haven't pulled out from under me (yet). They now sell and promote much faster speeds than what I have now, but 100M is fine.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2013
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    Marietta, GA
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    Technically all EarthLink does these days is repackage AT&T services. I guess it doesn't take much to do that, as there are a few other companies that offer repackaged internet services.

    The more I read about "modern" internet services, the more confused I get. One site seems to indicate some of Earthlink's "HyperLink" packages are technically still DSL. And earthlink's site does not seem to list the fastest (fiber?) packages when I check availability here. Of course, they don't go in to any technical detail at all.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2015
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    Cleveland, OH, USA
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    Just guessing here but it seems that the "unforeseen circumstances" amount to an inability to renew an agreement between Earthlink and AT&T to lease AT&T lines at the old rate. Service is still available - the copper still runs to your house - but AT&T's new terms mean Earthlink will have to charge more for your services: a $4.95 charge for email access, or a switch to "hyperlink" service, which is just another term for DSL. And it will still be AT&T DSL (partly) over copper wire, which in my area is in poor repair and poorly maintained. Probably in most areas poorly maintained, as people drop POTS for wireless accounts. The nationwide distribution is all through fiber networks, but the last stretch, from the "station" to your telephone, is still copper.

    If fiber is available that would be my recommendation. One fiber "drop" can provide TV, Internet and phone service all at the same time, and the phone service features available are many, useful and cheap or free. But to avoid future complications if you have to change your email address set up a Google (or Microsoft) email account. It's free and will be accessible from anywhere on the Internet no matter which ISP you choose. I also keep a prepaid wireless account and phone, voice only, for the times the POTS goes south and I have to call AT&T Repair or I'm out on the road. Try finding a working pay phone these days...

    -CH-

  6. #6

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    I honestly don't know anything about Earthlink (beyond Earthlink!? They still exist?). But, the idea of them reselling AT&T makes a lot of sense, since AT&T is the only company that has ever had copper running to pretty much anyones house.

    Cable is likely your best option, fiber MAY be an option, but the fiber investment as been low and not profitable for companies.

    Infrastructure investment is at "maintenance" levels and "new neighborhood" only. I moved in to a new neighborhood, and AT&T didn't bother running copper at all, and my only service is from the single cable company.

    All this, as far as I can tell, is the companies simply clinging on to what they have while they wait for 5G to finally explode on that market.

    At that point, the infrastructure investment is much cheaper (bolting new equipment to existing cell towers), and much more universal. Then it should be actually competitive as the wireless carriers strive for marketshare in a spec they can actually compete in. It's "easy" to host a new cell tower compared to laying wire for a new provider.

    At my old house, I had AT&T DSL. Beyond it's raw speed (nothing to write home about, fast enough for Netflix), I never had much issue with it (modem blew up once, but otherewise), and their service was always prompt and knowledgable. But my cell phone had better raw speeds than my DSL did.

  7. #7
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    Well, I just called EarhLink tech support, and they confirmed this is for real.

    So, basically all EarthLink DSL customers in the Atlanta area are getting the shaft at the worst possible time.

    Unsurprisingly, they couldn't give me any technical details. They claimed switching to fiber would not change my telephone service, but they didn't seem to understand what kind of telephone I was talking about.

    At least they seemed sure they could install a fiber connection at this location. I had looked in to fiber before, and it seemed like that only became an option here a few years ago. I've queried a number of third party companies that also re-package service for service availability at this location, and most still claim only DSL is available.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    Well, I just called EarhLink tech support, and they confirmed this is for real.

    So, basically all EarthLink DSL customers in the Atlanta area are getting the shaft at the worst possible time.

    Unsurprisingly, they couldn't give me any technical details. They claimed switching to fiber would not change my telephone service, but they didn't seem to understand what kind of telephone I was talking about.

    At least they seemed sure they could install a fiber connection at this location. I had looked in to fiber before, and it seemed like that only became an option here a few years ago. I've queried a number of third party companies that also re-package service for service availability at this location, and most still claim only DSL is available.
    I don't fully understand your situation but why not dump POTUS altogether and go with an inhouse cellular service. I use an 'el cheapo' cell phone with the inhouse base provided by my service vendor, and run 5 bluetooth phones off of it which are scattered throughout the house. I was able to maintain my old POTUS dial-up number and our 3 cell phones together total about $67 per month. So, $67 for the phone service and $50 for 200 MB down + 1.2 gig capped xFinity = $117 per month. MY old AT&T POTUS used to run about $48 per month and I have fiber up to the appearance point in my from yard and then it's copper up to and into the house. I had DSL for years and it was okay up to a point. A little while back I experimented with DSL streaming on a 30 trail basis from AT&T. That was a total disaster as their wi-fi streaming couldn't even make it around the corner in an upstair bedroom let alone the rest of the house. I think at the top end I could get somewhere between 9 & 12 GB down. AT&T has really dropped the ball in that area. I live in a quad level and I can stream throughout the house to 5 tv's and the phone service is excellent. Waiting for 5G.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  9. #9

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    The answer is simple, AT&T is likely retiring the copper phone line infrastructure out of your local central office. AT&T will install an optical network terminal (ONT) that converts the fiber to Ethernet and/or POTS. They will move your existing regulated POTS line to fiber, no change in price. Since DSL is no longer available, you either have to switch to AT&T's fiber internet service, or a 3rd party reseller, which is rarely available. The truth is, the 1996 Telecom Act only required phone companies to share their copper lines to competitive resellers, not fiber. That is why you rarely, if ever, see 3rd party resellers of ILEC fiber in the USA.

    Regarding fiber POTS, the ONT provides a line that is pretty much the same as copper service. Fax machines and modems work over them no problem. Some models don't support pulse dialing, but that is rare. You need to provide the box power. Some providers offer a battery backup for power outages, but in most cases a UPS is a better choice.

  10. #10
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    Unless you live in an area where there is no cable service, why deal with AT&T at all? Who really cares about copper or fiber these days unless you're locked into a situation where that's all that's available to you. Speaking for myself, I would never go back. 5G is about to become a reality in my area and soon as it's up and running at a reasonable rate, that's the way I'm going to go. AT&T may have a few things going for it with the business sector, but for the home side, it's difficult to see how that's going to be profitable in the near future.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

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