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Mediaone.net domain name change: A warning

Mon, 03/04/2002 - 7:00pm
Lisa Pierce

Copyright 2002 Network World, Inc.

Network World…03/04/2002

From LexisNexis

As a result of a recent legal settlement, AT&T Broadband must stop using the Mediaone.net domain name and is requiring its 630,000 customers to change their e-mail and Web pages.

AT&T purchased MediaOne for approximately $58 billion two years ago in a deal that brought along users with mediaone.net e-mail addresses. However, another company owns the domain name mediaone.net — quite a paradox, and so begins this cautionary tale.

According to e-mails AT&T Broadband sent to subscribers several times earlier this year, users with the Attbroadband.com domain name also must move to the new domain — attbi.com — by March 15.

In a Feb. 11 correspondence, AT&T e-mailed instructions to users outlining the steps needed to complete the transition. Until March 15, subscribers can use an optional feature that will forward e-mail addressed to the old e-mail account to the new attbi.com account.

According to its user policy, AT&T Broadband is targeted at consumers, but some remote-access users and small-business customers are subscribers. They now face additional burdens because many have distributed brochures and business cards with their current Mediaone.net or Attbroadband.com addresses. This has caused considerable rancor. As of this time, AT&T has nothing specific to help these users.

Herein lies Part 2 of today's cautionary tale: Although the circumstances in this case are unusual, customers who use consumer services for business applications do so at their own risk.

AT&T Broadband also is temporarily terminating its relationship with its current mobile access/dial roaming provider. As of Feb. 28, users are not able to dial into its network on a remote basis or use their regular e-mail programs to check e-mail when traveling. Officials tell us the provider plans to reintroduce the service at an unspecified date. AT&T plans to let users check e-mail from any Internet connection via its Internet Message Center, but users can't do so until they change to a new e-mail address.

If the AT&T Broadband merger with Comcast results in a new domain name, affected customers also may find that the change to attbi.com domain name is temporary. If so, they will have to go through the same process again — Part 3 of this tale. AT&T officials reminded us that AtHome users already made this type of transition, and few customers discontinued service. However, the potential for a "three-peat" of near-term aggravation may induce more customers to search for a new provider.

However, many users find their choice of broadband provider limited to the one they use and that their broadband providers restrict their choice of ISPs. AT&T Broadband users are no exception, and so are in a Catch-22: They can use AT&T Broadband and its ISP (which was ExciteAtHome, but is now Worldnet), or do without.

And one final cautionary note: Recognize that future assumptions are not future assurances; in this case, post-merger ISP choice. AT&T Broadband completed a $20 million, seven-month ISP choice trial in the Boulder, Colo., area last June, and in a press release stated it was "on schedule" to begin offering ISP choice mid-year 2002. AT&T officials recently assured us of the company's commitment to ISP choice.

However, information at its Web site indicates that neither AT&T nor Comcast has announced a time frame to support ISP choice after the merger is completed. According to the same source, the merged entity has not firmly committed to expanding such choice.

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