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Class-action suit filed against BellSouth DSL

A group of Internet subscribers files a class-action suit against BellSouth, alleging that the local phone giant isn't delivering on its promises for high-speed DSL Internet service.

A group of high-speed Internet subscribers has filed a class-action suit against BellSouth, alleging that the local phone giant isn't delivering on its promises for high-speed DSL Internet service.

Filed late last week, the suit says BellSouth has advertised 24-hour technical support and "always-on" connections in its advertisements, but delivered neither.

"(BellSouth was) aware that they would not be able to provide technical service and uninterrupted Internet access to plaintiffs and the members of the class as promised in their advertising, yet they failed to disclose this information to these consumers before they signed up for the service," the suit alleges.

A BellSouth representative said the company was "aware of the suit from reports in the media," but had not yet had time to review it.

The suit is one of the most visible signs yet of dissatisfaction from people with almost all flavors of broadband Internet service. Subscribers to DSL, cable modems and wireless all have reported intermittent outages and service problems.

Only a single plaintiff, a Florida resident named James Mallamo, is currently bringing the suit. According to the complaint, Mallamo signed up for DSL from BellSouth in January 2000, had it installed in February, 2000, and then canceled it in April 2000 after the "numerous unsuccessful attempts to remedy" technical problems.

But the documents filed with a federal court in Palm Beach, Fla., tap the Internet for extra support. A myriad of complaints posted on sites such as "DSLReports.com" and "Corporate-Abuse.com" are quoted in the suit.

The suit asks for damages to be determined at trial and for an order barring BellSouth from engaging in "deceptive, fraudulent and misleading" advertising policies.