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Mac users struggle with telco over DSL

Bell Atlantic says it has opened up its high-speed Internet services to many in the Macintosh community, but some Apple Computer users say they still can't sign up.

Bell Atlantic says it has opened up its high-speed Internet services to many in the Macintosh community, but some Apple Computer users say they still can't sign up.

Until earlier this month, the company's Infospeed digital subscriber line (DSL) Internet service had supported most PC-compatible computers, but only the colorful iMacs from among Apple's lineup.

According to Bell Atlantic, the delay for other Apple models stemmed from a difficulty in finding the computers' internal network identification codes.

But complaints from users prompted a bitter online controversy, and the company relented. Late last month the company said it would support most modern Macintoshes by mid-February.

From its perspective, Bell Atlantic believes it has followed though on its promise to support more Apple models, according to a company spokeswoman.

"We have verified that we have taken orders from Mac users," said Joan Rasmussen, a spokeswoman for the company's high-speed Internet service division. "We absolutely are supporting iMacs and other Macintosh computers."

The company officially started taking orders for most Apple Macintosh models February 15, but actually signed up some individuals before that date, Rasmussen said.

The company's Web site still fails to mention this availability, however. A note on the site to Macintosh users continues to give "mid-February" as the date when support for models beyond the iMac is expected.

The message also may not be getting out to all Bell Atlantic staffers.

Steve Godun, a New Jersey software designer, has chronicled his month-long efforts to get the DSL service at his home on the Macintouch Web site. It was partly his series of articles--which prompted strong debate on the Slashdot Web site--that pushed Bell Atlantic to change their support policies.

But Godun said a Bell Atlantic salesperson told him last night that he still couldn't get the service, despite news from other East Coast Mac users saying they had signed up within the last few weeks.

"That was the point where I just gave it up," Godun said. He related the details of the conversation and his frustration in a lengthy new installment to his series on Macintouch last night.

Rasmussen said she couldn't explain what had happened to Godun.

"We have trained our sales force and provided them with information," she said. The service is being offered to any Mac users with the right hardware configuration--a group that includes most current systems--in all four markets where Bell Atlantic is offering DSL service, she said.

Godun said he is willing to believe that the word has not filtered down to all the right people, but is not mollified by the possibility.

"The bottom line is this: Bell Atlantic does not want the business of Macintosh users," he wrote last night. "Their actions have spoken far louder than their words ever could."

The popularity of DSL service, which uses existing phone lines for high-speed Internet service, has caused bottlenecks for subscribers around the country. But most other complaints have been about speed of rollouts in general, rather than support for specific types or models of computers. Other Baby Bells, such as US West, already support Macintosh computers.

Bell Atlantic currently offers DSL in Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and parts of northern New Jersey. The company will be expanding into New York and other urban areas later this year, and will support Apple computers and PCs, Rasmussen said.