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BellSouth continues obstinacy on Linux/ADSL.

Jun 15, 1999, 08:43 (36 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert Jones)

Robert Jones writes:

I have just heard from someone in BellSouth's legal department concerning the issue of their position on Linux and ADSL. (For those of you who didn't catch the first story, BellSouth will not even come out and install the ADSL line on your copper if you are not running an "approved" operating system -- Windows 95, 98, NT, or MacOS 7.5+).

Their official position is that BellSouth's ISP services are not regulated, and, as such, they have no responsibility to provide internet access to anyone other than those they chose.

While this may or may not be true, they do not even address the issue of the legality of refusing access to a common-carrier service (the ADSL line itself). I have obtained a copy of BellSouth's FCC tariffs on their ADSL service, and have found the following interesting passages:

"For BellSouth ADSL service, the Customer must specify the Customer commitment level, Customer electronic mail address, confirmation of an end-user letter of authorization, end-user's Telephone Exchange service provider, Network Service Provider and in-service telephone number, type of request, BellSouth XAATMS Port, and the circuit identification of the transport facility between the Customer's premises and its Serving Wire Center." [note no mention of OS]

"The responsibility of the Telephone Company shall be limited to the furnishing and maintenance of BellSouth ADSL service between the end-user premises Network Interface Device (NID) and the customer's designated BellSouth XAATMS location, in a manner proper for the furnishing of the service."

"The Telephone Company shall not be responsible for installation, operation, or maintenance of any terminal equipment or communications system provided by a customer or end-user. Where such equipment or system is conencted to the Telephone Compnay facilities the responsibility of the Telephone Company shall be limited to furnishing BellSouth ADSL service in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in this tariff."

"The customer is responsible for installation and/or testing of customer or end-user premises equipment or facilities to ensure that when connected to BellSouth ADSL service such end-user premises equipment or facilities operate properly."

These seem to me to be a pretty clear-cut statement of the fact that BellSouth's responsibility doesn't even extend to the OS running on the computer as far as the ADSL line is concerned.

Given this fact, and their continued unfortunate position on this matter, I have determined to take the following action: I am filing, this morning, an official complaint with the FCC, the FTC, the South Carolina Attorney General, and my state and federal legislators. I am also going to contact various people from the press who spoke with me previously, as well as new, large-scale media outlets.

I think we would be very much helped at this point by wide-spread media exposure of this issue. However, I do not have the time or energy to initiate all this on my own. To this end, I am asking you to contact whatever media outlets are available in your area which you think are appropriate, and alert them to the situation. Feel free to provide my email address (rjones@chaotika.net) as a contact point. Please be literate and thoughtful when contacting people -- it does us no good if you come off sounding like a half-crazed fanatic.

I am hoping that by working together we can achieve justice in this issue.

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