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Inside Info on ADSL and BellSouth

Jun 02, 1999, 23:11 (81 Talkback[s])

An anonymous person who claims to be a Bellsouth Fast Access Technician (technical support) has written in with a response to the recent alleged discrimination against Linux users.

Anonymous writes:

[ Editor's Note: We are publishing this verbatim as it was received. ]

To whom it may concern:

I hope someone will post this on the net to help clarify some issues. Most of the people contacting the help desk don't even know what's really going on and have just jump on the band wagon. Also Mr. Robert Jones isn't too clear in some of his vendetta strike against BellSouth. (Related links: linuxtoday.com, www.devzero.org/bellsouthadsl)

Well as you can tell anonymity would be my best option since I am a technician at the now "famous" help desk. I want to clarify several things first of all since nobody seems to be doing that for BellSouth. The BellSouth entity composes of several factors including but not limited to the telephone company, the cable service, the internet service (the fast access branch of the ISP), the entertainment packages, etc. It's all under the name of BellSouth though on the stock market. Now with all those people shouting about boycotting BellSouth I just wanted them to know that they're boycotting several entities that don't really have much in common other than BellSouth in front of their names...

Anyways that's not the issue here. The issue is that people are calling the help desk from all over the country to voice their concerns about BellSouth's issue of not allowing Linux. Now I myself love Linux, it's a great OS and is vastly overlooked by many people. (Of course OS/2 was overlooked as well and no we don't support OS/2 either.) However there many poor unfortunate people who can't even use DOS, do you really expect them to use Linux?? OH wait... some of those people might even be computer technicians... they have their expertise in MS and Mac but that's not enough. This crowd wants everyone trained in Linux too, including ADSL installers who's main training has been in phone equipment and line setup - not computers!! Now even if we trained in Linux, which kernal are we talking about?? Which version?? Okay they might say it's all similar but we all know that Linux can be changed to the user's desire.

Back to calling the help desk though. First of all this is the technical support help desk. Need I say it again, "TECHNICAL SUPPORT" help desk, open 24/7 to help customers with existing ADSL service. We aren't 20 questions and we can't tell you why BellSouth has BellSouth's policy. We just enforce it. To tell you the truth, other than making us look like great agents with these really short calls, the technical support desk doesn't really care about the how and why when you're complaining about Linux because TECHNICAL SUPPORT can't do anything about it and that includes Rich Allen. (Please e-mail mark.moore1@bridge.bellsouth.com if you wish to talk to someone who really cares and has the power to do something about it.) I don't see people, for example, writing or calling into Sony because their new online game EverQuest only runs on supported OSs - Windows 95/98. Not even NT or MAC you say? Yes, read the box. This phone campaign started by Mr. Robert Jones is equivalent to customers calling into Sony asking them why you need a 3D card to play a 3D game or why they won't give tech support on Windows 2000 Beta. I would also like to state for the record that Robert Jones did call in several times (I think the log is like 10 calls?? somewhere around there.) Mr. Rich Allen has been sick lately and that may have been the cause of why no reply was given. However that is no excuse especially in the business world. All in all it was bad communication on both sides and we do apolgize for Mr. Jones' poor service. However, you don't see BellSouth.net sending out Mr. Jones' phone number and having everyone contact him - trust me we have all sorts of information, but we're a business and it's unethical to stab your customers in the back. (Obviously customers don't find anything ethically wrong with trying to disrupt service to others by attemping to block up the phone lines to tech support with Linux calls.) It's impolite, rude, and just plain annoying when people call and they're doing it just because they read it from some website. Now if Mr. Robert Jones wants to be a thorn in our side, I applaud his thinking, however the only people he's really hurting are other customers like him - the people who need REAL tech support and call in.

Oh and by the way Mr. Jones we haven't been swamped by calls as you put it. Anyone calling in is having their information written down and forwarded onto the corporate office where something can be done about it. We feel that it is better to place it into the hands of people who have the authority to do something about it rather than have a technician or a supervisor of the technicians explain the obvious to the people who are calling from Canada and Cincinatti and from other places about BellSouth.net's refusal to support Linux. I'm sure we can help the Canadians or even the Virginians and Californians that call in.

Another connotation that Mr. Jones made in his brief article was that BellSouth ADSL does not work on Linux. I know I've never said that before on a phone call. I just say we don't "support" Linux. How people take that is on their own. (Essentially - call in, get the service on a approved machine, register that MAC address and format your system and put Linux back on. We can't support it though so for tech support you'd need to call back with an "approved" OS.) I'm distressed at the Linux community in not being able to do something that simple, given the fact that many people call in say they're system administrators or something similar. You would think someone who can run Linux in a network environment would be able to know what they're doing when it comes to setting it up themselves. (Note: we don't support networking either... BS is working on selling a service to people with networks and it may be faster than 1.5 Mbps down and 256 up. No information to the tech support on that yet.) Oh wait, maybe these people don't know what to do to set it up for Linux (after all they're calling tech support for help about why we don't support Linux). Yet they feel that the technical support and everyone else needs to know how to use Linux? We don't discriminate, we just don't have the time and resources to teach the entire ADSL department several versions of Linux and still provide quality customer service. In other words, some people/companies just don't prefer to open Pandora's box or shoot themselves in the foot. However what can you expect in the good old USA where people can complain about everything?? We provide a service, if you don't qualify for the service or you don't like our service don't get it. It isn't BellSouth's fault if nobody else in the area offers ADSL or ADSL support for Linux.

One thing I have noticed also are customer's ignorance about ADSL setup. Most people don't even know what ADSL stands for I bet. They also complain about it not being in their service area. Oh please let me know if I start boring you... ADSL has a maximum range from the Central Office of 18,000 feet. Roughly 3 miles I believe. Now this isn't 3 miles in walking distance area but 3 miles in distance of the cable from one end to the other including all sorts of loops and turns. Another thing is ADSL service will not work, or will work extremely poorly if there are Load Coils and/or Bridge Taps on a line. There are many reasons why it will not work and we can not run new wiring out to every customer that does not qualify. Also since you can only be 18,000 ft. away from the CO the procedure for setting up ADSL tends to be on the expensive side for setting up that many areas. (They are currently doing testing on something that will make it so people farther than 18,000 ft. will be ale to get service I've been told.) Anyways from the CO, it goes to the DSLAM and then to a NID where a wire is run into the Alcatel Modem and then a patch cable goes to the NIC card in the computer. I'm sure all the Linux goorus were able to pick that up. Now tell me how many things can go wrong from the CO to the computer... (For more information go down to your local library and check out a book on ADSL.)

Extra stuff for people who may need it and who have ADSL...
DHCP issues on windows 95, 98 and Macintosh.
98 users loosing their IP address, go to...
http://www3.bc.sympatico.ca/cs/dhcp/
download the 194790up.exe

95 users loosing their IP address, go to...
http://www.microsoft.com/windows95/downloads/
scroll down to the networking section and download the socket2 update

Macs not able to obtain an IP address.
go download the 8.6 update, it's not a guaranteed fix and it's an issue Apple is working on. The cause of the problem is Open Transport 2.2.x and 2.3 doesn't always fix it either. Contact Apple for more information on it.

In the end, it comes down to the fact that this company as well as many thousands of others does not support Linux. Many versions of Linux don't even have technical support, this definitely makes it difficult for BellSouth to troubleshoot I think. I personally feel that this vendetta phone campaign is uncalled for and inconsiderate. I also feel that Mr. Jones has been given extremely poor service and we do apologize for that. The main thing though that I strive for is the removal of the ADSL phone number and Rich Allen's name from the many websites it is posted on. This phone campaign is only hurting innocent bystanders who use the ADSL service and need technical support when they run into a problem. It may even make customers more angry at people who use linux which is the exact opposite of which Mr. Jones was attempting to accomplish. Please contact the above e-mail address listed, the BellSouth corporate office, or the customer care unit to voice your complaints. They can better serve you than an ADSL technical support help desk.

(Thank you for Calling BellSouth.net Fast Access.)

Sincerely,
xxxxxx
BellSouth.net Fast Access Technician