What should you do if you are an Excite@Home subscriber? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the broadband crisis.
On Friday, a bankruptcy court judge ruled that Excite@Home could shut off its service to cable companies that offer broadband Net access. Excite@Home said Saturday that it cut off service to AT&T "after determining that it would not be able to reach agreement with AT&T."
What's the relationship between Excite@Home and AT&T?
Excite@Home provides content and some of the network for high-speed Internet access, and it partners with cable companies, which build and maintain the cables to consumers' homes. Of the average $46 monthly fee, Excite@Home collects 35 percent, while the cable companies collect the remaining 65 percent.
When will AT&T's service be restored?
AT&T said it expects approximately 80 percent of its customers to be on its new high-speed Internet network by the end of the day Tuesday and plans to complete the transition by Friday morning. As of Tuesday morning, AT&T said it had moved more than 500,000 cable Internet customers to the new network.
Do AT&T customers have to change their e-mail addresses?
Yes. As customers are being reconnected to AT&T's own network, the suffix of their e-mail addresses is changing from "home.net" or "home.com" to "attbi.com."
Is AT&T compensating its customers for the inconvenience of being without access?
AT&T has promised customers a credit of two days of broadband service for every one day they are without it. A limited number of customers in remote locations will be given free dial-up access while their high-speed connections are down.
Will the customers of other cable companies that are reliant on Excite@Home lose service?
The other three major cable companies--Cox Communications, Comcast and Charter Communications--are renegotiating contracts with Excite@Home. Late Monday, Comcast and Cox each agreed to pay $160 million to Excite@Home for three months of high-speed Internet service.
Charter is still in talks with Excite@Home. If those negotiations fail, there could be some disruption in service as the company works to switch customers to other networks, much as AT&T is doing.
Will these new contracts lead to higher prices?
It's too early to say, but it is possible. In ruling that Excite@Home had the right to renegotiate contracts, the bankruptcy court judge was reacting to complaints from creditors that Excite@Home was not charging the cable companies enough for their service. If the new contracts result in Excite@Home receiving more revenue, the cable companies could decide to pass that cost on to customers.
Is anyone interested in buying the assets of Excite@Home?
AT&T had offered to buy Excite@Home for $307 million, but early Tuesday it withdrew the bid. AT&T had been the only bidder since Excite@Home declared bankruptcy Oct. 1.