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March 10, 2002 - March 14, 2002

News - March 14,2002

Years Biggest Virus So Far - Fbound.C

By:mark.j @ 2:53:PM - Comments (5) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Early reports have suggested that the new Fbound.C E-Mail virus is heading toward being one of the most proliferate so far for 2002, itís already been reported in 36 countries and is expected to hit the EU and USA next:

It doesn't possess a dangerous payload, but may bring disruption by creating large volumes of traffic.

The email arrives with an attachment called patch.exe, but can appear with differing subject lines.

Message Labs' chief anti-virus technologist Alex Shipp says the worm has mostly hit countries in the Asia-Pacific region since first appearing in Japan.

The Ananova item reports that USA and European users have yet to be seriously hit, although that could well change as the day progresses Ė stay safe.

Thedotservice ISP Ends Special Offer

By:mark.j @ 10:07:AM - Comments (1) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The latest service updated from Thedotservice.net has reminded us that their special unmetered ISP and hosting offer will come to an end for new subscribers at the end of this week:




*Unlimited webspace hosted on Windows 2000/Unix
*Unlimited Sub Directories
*Free Internet Access
*SSL Server
*Unlimited email boxes\unlimited addresses
*email routing
*Personal FTP Server
*Web Logs
*Front Page Extensions
*2 Domains registered.
*ISDN Access
*Cold Fusion Option
*0808 FRIACO Internet access
*Support for ISDN 64k , V90, K56Flex and 56K

We have completed several upgrades which means we have alot more capacity to play with; and we recommend any users that are looking for a total solution, sign-up as soon as possible, as this is an excellent service.

The AlphaPhe & RedHotAnt Debate

By:mark.j @ 9:57:AM - Comments (3) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Since we announced the new unmetered dialup ISP AlphaPhe.Net yesterday and noted some of the links with RedHotAnt (RHA), speculation has been rife about the true origins of the provider.

Indeed one reader (Carl) pointed out the similar records with Companies House, firstly for JAK Internet, the group behind RHA's support:

Status :Liquidation

..and then for AlphaPhe.Net (website):

Head Office:
Longwave IT Limited T/A AlphaPhe.Net
5th Floor
Charles House
108-110 Finchley Road
London NW3 5JJ

Thankfully the ISP itself has an explanation for this:
What is the link between RedHotAnt and AlphaPhe.Net?

RedHotAnt ceased trading back in early 2001, however AlphaPhe.Net have utilised the skill- sets of some of the RHA techies by employing them to develop the AlphaPhe.Net ISP.

Of course those still burned by the failure of RedHotAnt from well over a year ago, and there are many, will no doubt remain concerned. Typically there is now a specific unmetered forum for AlphaPhe in the usual place.

AOL Push IE Away Ė Favours NS

By:mark.j @ 9:49:AM - Comments (6) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Most agree that AOL will eventually drop MS's Internet Explorer (IE) from its integrated client software in favour of Netscape (NS - owned by AOL) sometime in the future, yet today that move came one step closer.

The worlds largest ISP is to start testing a web browser using the guts of its NS technology, opening up the possibility that the media giant plans to drop rival Microsoft's IE.

AOL spokesman Jim Whitney confirmed that the company has already shipped a Netscape browser in some test software for its discount Internet service, CompuServe. The browser is powered by Gecko technology that was developed through an open-source project called Mozilla.

The source said the same type of testing would be undertaken at AOL, which has about 34 million members worldwide. "We have put significant resources behind Netscape Gecko and and it's a great browser technology," said Whitney.

The trial rekindles the debate over a possible "battle of the browsers," with AOL dropping Microsoft's browser technology and turning to its own Netscape technology as the two giants vie for control over various areas of the Internet.

AOL bought Netscape in 1999, but the browser technology that it was know for has floundered, leading many in the industry to speculate on the fate of Netscape. But news that AOL will soon be testing the technology that powers the browser suggests that AOL is not ready to abandon it.

The company's contract with Microsoft to use the market-leading Internet Explorer expired in January 2001, but through "residual rights," AOL is free to use the browser technology for as long as it wants.

Microsoft dismissed speculation that AOL would move its 34 million subscribers away from Internet Explorer. "AOL has been talking about trying to replace Internet Explorer for the last three to four years, but they have decided not to," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan.

We'd hope that if AOL does finally drop IE from its software, and we believe they eventually will, then they'll have the sense to make sure it renders HTML just as well as IE first - often a flaw with Netscape.

BTOpenworld's Gaming Championship

By:mark.j @ 9:38:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The unmetered dialup and broadband offering ISP BTOpenworld has announced a special tournament for those that subscribe and play online games:

The Games Domain Championship 2002 will begin with online heats throughout May and June.

The tournament will culminate in a live London final and the chance to win the lion's share of a total prize fund of £20,000.

There will be three categories: football, first-person shooters and chess. Actual games involved will include EA's Fifa 2002, Activision's Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Counter Strike by Vivendi Universal.

The Ananova item reports that you can get all the details from the BTOpenworld owned Games Domain site/service. You can go directly to the competition page HERE.

UK Online via Digital TV

By:mark.j @ 9:31:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The Governments Internet based UK Online site/service should soon be available through DigitalTV providers (SkyDigital etc.):

E-envoy Andrew Pinder has said he is in talks with the UK's major digital TV providers and has created a team within his office to oversee the move.

A service could be launched before the end of spring 2002, according to his March report to the Prime Minister. The E-envoy's office began trialling digital TV delivery with Sky last December.

We'd expect that you'd need to be using the Internet (phone line connected) capabilities of the associated service (Sky, ITVDigital etc.) when it launches. More @ Silicon.

News - March 13,2002

Security Device For Broadband Users

By:mark.j @ 3:05:PM - Comments (1) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The Japanese firm 'Trend Micro' has announced the launch of GateLock, which is aimed at broadband (home) users and is supposed to offer comprehensive protection against hackers and viruses:

The Windows, Mac and Linux-compatible device promises integrated firewall and automatically-updated virus protection.

Trend Micro hopes the device will be a timely reminder for recent adopters of broadband access to upgrade their protection.

Raimund Genes, Trend Micro's president of European operations, says: "While there are several advantages to broadband, the downside is that the always-on nature of the technology makes users very vulnerable to virus and hacker attacks."

The Ananova item also reports that the hardware device is Plug-n-Play (easy to install), yet there's currently no mention of a UK release date.

Ex-RedHotAnt Users See New ISP

By:mark.j @ 11:01:AM - Comments (21) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

UPDATE: The following were also noted on their site:
Package 1: £8.99* per month - Only available for use from a BT Land line / Access between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday with no call charges

Package 2: £5.99* per month - Only available for use from a BT Land line / Access between 6pm and 9am Monday to Friday and the whole weekend with no call charges

RedHotAnt, now that's the name of an unmetered ISP we havenít heard in nearly two years (wouldnít want to!), literally. Despite this some readers (four) have reported the launch of a brand new unmetered ISP, which is being promoted via the use of an old RedHotAnt subscribers list (E-Mail):

As an ex RedHotAnt user, you may have noticed recent changes imposed by the industry regulator OFTEL, which means that unmetered Internet access services via free phone numbers are now within everyone's price range.

If you have been thinking about switching to an unmetered service, or changing your existing Internet service provider, take a look at the table below:


AOL, Freeserve and BT Openworld all offer a reliable service at a reasonable price. However, these larger companies cannot hope to compete with the value added services offered by technologically superior newcomers like AlphaPhe.Net. Email arrival alerts to your mobile phone, auto responding/forwarding and the ability to run your own CGI scripts are just some of the value added features offered by the new AlphaPhe.Net service.

A unique feature of the AlphaPhe.Net service is the ability to pay monthly by cheque, standing order or via one of the new e-money services. AlphaPhe.Net are running a special promotion, only until the 31st March 2002, whereby customers can sign up online and get connected immediately, even if they choose a payment method other than credit/debit card.

You have received this email because you are on a list of ex-RedHotAnt users,

You were added to this list when you subscribed to RedHotAnt on 13/04/2000.

PLEASE NOTE: this is a once only email informing you of AlphaPhe.Net. Unless you specify otherwise, we will delete your email address from this list and we WILL NOT email you at this address again.

If you would like to receive future emails from AlphaPhe.Net, you can subscribe to our opt-in mailing list by sending an email to: opt-in@alphaphe.net with a subject of 'Subscribe'

Note, we removed the table because it couldn't be retrieved from the E-Mail (technical issue). It stated that the standard 24/7 unmetered package costs £11.99 per month, includes domain hosting, unlimited E-Mails, CGI support and SMS notification. It seems to suggest that there's no cut-off (* Unlimited), yet goes on to say..:

* This is subject to review and change based upon the subscriber's average time online over an ongoing period.

In other words it's not unlimited =). Full details can be found @ AlphaPhe.Net.

Small Vizzavi ISP Update

By:mark.j @ 10:49:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

One of our readers sent us the response he got from Vizzavi's Business Manager when asking why new registrations were not being taken.

This seems to be a standard message that's sent to everybody who asks as weíve seen some quotes from it elsewhere, however here it is in full:

As a result of recent strategy reviews, Vizzavi has decided to focus on information, entertainment and services for mobile devices. The fixed line ISP does not fit with this, so we have decided to discontinue this service. Although we have closed the door to new customers, the service remains available to existing customers.

Ultimately, this has been a difficult decision to make. Our ISP service has proved popular and a number of customers have praised the quality of service. Ultimately, it is necessary for us to concentrate our resources on products and services that fit with our business focus going forward.

Sonnet Internet Launch Cheap ADSL

By:mark.j @ 10:43:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The latest ISP to take advantage of BTs R/ADSL price cuts and offer a cheaper broadband service is Sonnet Internet:

Sonnet Internet Offers Dedicated Business ADSL at Consumer Prices

Sonnet Internet puts its money where its mouth is and launches cut price ADSL for small businesses for only £25 per month (exc VAT)


Sonnet Internet, provider of ISP services and applications for small businesses, today announces the availability of low-cost broadband ADSL for its customers. Following the recent announcement from BT regarding the reduction in cost for its broadband access, Sonnet Internet has slashed the price of its ADSL packages.

From today, Sonnet Internet is offering its ADSL services from only £25 per, month (exc VAT). All packages include a free domain name, up to 250Mb Webspace and 500 email addresses.

Sonnet Internet's ADSL packages include the 'self-install' option, where customers can purchase a modem from recommended resellers through the portal, saving themselves money on the installation fee currently charged by BT. With self-install there is also no need to wait for an engineer to install a broadband modem. Sonnet Internet supplies broadband through the existing telephone line and the customer just plugs in their modem and splitter for access.

Not only does ADSL offer access that can be up to 10 times faster than a 56k modem, but you can also continue to make calls or send and receive faxes on the same telephone line as your 'always-on' Internet connection; a must for any small business, reliant on constant communication with its customers. Sonnet Internet's ADSL packages are supported by Sonnet Internet's usual range of quality business applications and web self-care aimed to greatly aid any small business online.

The ADSL products encompass a range of packages, suitable for businesses with different needs, up to 2MB bandwidth for heavy users.

Danny Sullivan, director of Sonnet Internet, commented: "Sonnet Internet has been committed to offering its customers cost effective, quality business applications from day one. Broadband is essential for today's small business user and hassle free, value for money access is long overdue. We are proud to be leading the way in offering this essential service at such a good price."

We note from their website that there's also a £60 activation fee, £210 for the normal ADSL package.

Worcester's ADSL Coverage

By:mark.j @ 10:25:AM - Comments (1) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

ADSLGuide is reporting that residents in Worcester may soon find their exchanges enabled with broadband R/ADSL within the next 2-3 weeks, although this isn't officially confirmed yet.

They also note that Cornwall should now be enabled for ADSL, which shouldn't be a surprise given the recent items on the government backed schemes we've been hearing about for the area.

On another note one of our readers was kind enough to let us know that Didcot in Oxfordshire has been enabled for awhile now, which is a place we highlighted sometime ago last year.

UK E-Mail Overtakes Snail Mail

By:mark.j @ 10:17:AM - Comments (3) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

It's official, traditionally posted letters (Snail Mail) have been overtaken by the popularity of E-Mail services. January 2002 saw 550 Million E-Mails being sent, which is 300 Million more than domestically handled letters:

Alki Manias, managing director of NetValue UK, the company which carried out the research, said: "This is a real milestone for email. Although only widely available to the public since 1995, the email has surpassed hundreds of years of domestic Royal Mail services in a few years. We live in a fast-paced world and people want instant communications."

Figures show nearly 13 million people regularly use email from their home computers, sending 12.3 and receiving 39.1 emails on average during December.

The study also showed UK householders top the European league for email use, sending 170 million more than the French and 185 million more than the Germans per month.

However all is not lost for the Royal Mail, the Ananova item points out that Snail Mail usage has actually grown by up to 3%, suggesting that people aren't quite ready to leave the pen and paper behind.

AOL Hits 34 Million Subscribers

By:mark.j @ 9:52:AM - Comments (2) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The worlds largest ISP, America Online (AOL), has gone from having 33 Million subscribers during late December 2001 to hitting the 34 Million mark now (March 2002).

However some investors are concerned because it took 10 weeks to add the latest million as opposed to fewer than 5 weeks last time. This is apparently raising some concern that slower growth in its dial-up service is not being offset by its broadband expansion.

Considering that the market in 1st world countries is growing ever closer to saturation then this shouldn't really be so surprising. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes AOL to hit 35 Million - start counting.

BBC Prep Broadband Services (BBCi)

By:mark.j @ 9:42:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Following on from earlier reports, the BBC has confirmed that they're set to launch broadband services on the BBC News and BBC Sport portals (websites) under the name of BBCi.

Freeserve ADSL and Telewest blueyonder (Cable Modem) customers will be given access to 'on-demand' content specifically designed for broadband users:

BBC News

* Top eight news stories - available on demand, enhanced with extended interviews, speeches and live events
* BBC's One, Six and Ten O'Clock News - available on demand
* BBC Ten O'Clock News - users will be able to jump to a specific news item from an on-demand menu
* BBC Radio News - continually updated with breaking news, available on-demand

BBC Sport

* Live - audio commentaries of football and rugby matches from BBC radio teams in England and Scotland
* On-demand - roundup of latest sports news updated through the day; feature-length interviews, exclusive comments not seen on TV

Angel Gambino, Controller of BBCi Business Development and Broadband, said: "This is the beginning of an exciting new way for people to watch BBC News and BBC Sport content. It is part of the BBC's remit to drive digital take up in the UK. This relationship with blueyonder and Freeserve is the start of a journey, which we hope will soon be joined by others to create a truly broadband Britain."

DigitalSpy's item notes some very positive comments from both of the ISPs involved, although no specific mention of any other ISPs being involved, at least not yet. The new service appears to be more of a trial designed to examine usage statistics to help with future improvements.

Oftels New ADSL & LLU Fact Sheet(s)

By:mark.j @ 9:30:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Oftel has issued two new monthly publications in the shape of a fact sheet for broadband ADSL technologies and one for Local Loop Unbundling (LLU).

These documents are designed to provide a history of the associated items progress and details on the current situation. We'll take a look at the ADSL Fact Sheet since the LLU Fact Sheet is much longer and more business orientated.

The ADSL document notes that BT's broadband service reached 146,000 subscribers (among all the ISPs) at the end of last month (Feb). It then states that all of Kingstonís exchanges in the Hull area are now enabled to deliver ADSL, 11,000 have subscribed (not a BT area).

Three other points of note quoted from the document are as follows:

Central Plus Trial: BT has announced plans to trial BT Central Plus from 11 March 2002. BT Central Plus is an enhancement to the BT IPStream portfolio, that will allow Service Providers to connect their End Users directly to the Internet. A full launch of the product is targeted for May 2002.

BT IP Stream Service Provider transfer pilot: BT is in the process of developing a new process to allow consumers to transfer between service providers without the need for their service to be ceased and re-provided, as is required at present. BT plans to pilot this process from 18 March for 4-8 weeks. A full launch of the service is due to follow if the pilot is successful.


(iii) DataStream Pricing

We have also opened an own-initiative investigation into whether BT's recently announced prices for DataStream Home and Office are too low. The concern is that the prices might be designed to reduce or eliminate competition from LLU operators. We requested a substantial amount of information from BT, which we have now reviewed. A number of follow-up enquiries were made, and we are in the process of reviewing the responses.

Finally the document also mentions one of closed cases, that of Service Level Agreements and Terms & Conditions:

(vi) Wholesale DSL Terms and Conditions & Service Level Agreements

Oftel examined an industry complaint regarding BTís contract terms for its wholesale DSL products. The xDSL industry group argued that the original terms, (which did not include Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or Service Level Guarantees (SLGs)), were so unreasonable as to represent an abuse of a dominant position, given that BT is currently the only supplier of wholesale ADSL products.

Following consultation with industry, BT introduced a new version of its terms and conditions, including SLAs, which came into effect on 1 September 2001. BT introduced SLGs on 31 December 2001. Oftel has now concluded that BTís wholesale terms and conditions did not have a material effect on competition and has issued a non-infringement decision to this effect.

News - March 12,2002

Nildram Lower Broadband DSL Prices

By:mark.j @ 3:47:PM - Comments (1) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Nildram has today OFFICIALLY confirmed the pricing for its broadband R/ADSL services following last monthís reduction in the wholesale price of R/ADSL products, press release follows:

Nildram push down the cost of Broadband (again!)

Nildram, one of the UK's leading providers of Broadband ADSL Internet access, have today announced a number of dramatic changes to their Broadband portfolio, following BTs recent announcement that it is to reduce wholesale costs from the 1st April.

Nildram have used the BT announcement as a catalyst for a major revamp of their pricing and product structure and have today implemented sweeping price reductions as the first stage of this. With prices now starting at £29.99 per month, inclusive of VAT, for the Home500A service and £75 plus VAT for the Office500 service.

Full details, including all of the revised prices, can be found on their ADSL specific web site at: http://www.getadsl.co.uk

More announcements regarding a number of very positive additional benefits will follow in the very near future.

All new orders received from today will be processed at the new prices and existing customers will receive the benefits of these reductions with effect from their first billing date after 1st April.

Iain Ogilvie, Nildram's Marketing Manager comments: "We very much welcome the reductions in the wholesale cost of ADSL and are pleased to be able to pass those on to both existing and new Nildram customers." He continues: "Since the launch of Broadband ADSL services in the UK we have seen a healthy take up amongst the 'early adopter' community - these price cuts, combined with improvements to our portfolio, will help stimulate Broadband take-up amongst a far wider audience. This is set to be a very exciting year for the growth of Broadband Britain, something Nildram has a proven commitment to enabling!"

Mac Friendly Satellite ISP Launched

By:mark.j @ 3:39:PM - Comments (2) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

One of the UKs first broadband Satellite ISPs dedicated to Mac computer users, Mac-1 Internet, has finally launched.

The service is backed and almost identical to Isonetric's (Satellite-ADSL) own offering; The smallest package costs £159 per month (ouch) for a guaranteed 512Kbps Downstream and 128KBps Upstream (Two-Way) connection:

Joe Anderson, managing director of Isonetric Ė the Distribution company in the UK Ė explained: "The advantage of satellite broadband is that it's available to all UK households and businesses regardless of geographical location or proximity to telephone exchanges.

ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) is unavailable to much of the country because BT has postponed converting telephone exchanges to ADSL. Mac-1 Internet will provide a stable, fast Internet connection.

You can read more @ MacWorld, although the price point of £159 per month is hardly likely to attract many residential customers. Cheaper Satellite ISPs are also set to launch soon.

Sweden & Britain Push EU Broadband

By:mark.j @ 3:25:PM - Comments (5) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

This weeks European Union summit being held in Barcelona is set to see Britain and Sweden pushing for fast Internet access to be widely available around Europe by 2005 in order to compete with the USA.

The Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sweden's Goran Persson stated the following in todays The Times: "Broadband communication is a key element of Europe's future competitiveness. We both want Barcelona to commit the EU to a target of achieving the widespread availability of broadband technologies by 2005."

It's nice to see the PM pushing for widespread broadband he can't even seem sort out coverage at home. Having said that; state support for fixed-line broadband Internet access would help operators struggling under the burden of huge debts incurred to pay European governments for licences for fast mobile Internet access (3G).

The two-day Barcelona summit will focus on the progress of economic reforms needed for the 15-nation bloc to become the world's most competitive economy in 2010, as set out in Lisbon two years ago. The focus of the meeting will be on employment.

Fast Internet will help fight unemployment and improve workforce mobility thanks to links between job centres in various countries, Blair and Persson wrote. "We will ask the Commission to design a new eEurope action plan to achieve this goal," they said.

ISP Maps Scottish Broadband Demand

By:mark.j @ 3:16:PM - Comments (4) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Popular UK business ISP edNET has set about introducing a new website, which it hopes will help map the demand for broadband technologies in Scotland:

If those behind broadbandscotland.net can prove there is sufficient demand in areas currently not served by high-speed Internet access, then they will either press BT to enable the exchange or unbundle it themselves.

Sebastien Robin, Sales & Marketing Manager at edNET told The Register: "If BT won't do it - we will." edNET claims it can make money with just 100 customers and is happy to press ahead with unbundling.

BT has said that it will enable exchanges if there is a proven demand for broadband that is commercially viable.

The Register states that edNET will begin rolling out its new xDSL exchanges (Local Loop Unbundling) during the summer and hopes to best BTs need for at least 275 customers to register before increasing coverage because they only require 100.

NTL Plans Faster Upstream Broadband

By:mark.j @ 2:53:PM - Comments (7) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

DigitalSpy is reporting that ntl:home is to test the possibility of increasing the upstream speed of their broadband cable modem service from 128Kbps to 256Kbps, no doubt making it more competitive with BT:

The cable operator's tests are designed to examine the impact of increasing the upstream speed for its "silver" tier of service from 128kbps to 256kbps. Currently that upstream speed is only available to customers of ntl:home's premium "gold" tier of service, which went live in ex-CWC areas yesterday.

Ordinarily, customers of the "silver" tier of service receive 512kbps downstream and 128kbps upstream. This trial, called "silver plus", will see the speed of some customers' modems increased for an initial one-week trial period, to 256kbps. The trial will be conducted on the Melton UBR (Universal Broadband Router); customers in the area who perform a reverse traceroute will see "not-cam2b-ubr2" listed. There are slightly over 100 customers of the "silver" service level on this UBR.

We donít doubt that many of NTLs broadband ISP customers would be pleased to see a successful trial in this area, at least so long as it remains at the same price point; there's currently no indication to suggest otherwise.

Small WonkyPig ISP Update

By:mark.j @ 9:51:AM - Comments (4) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

If you're an ex-WonkyPig ISP customer (now that they've closed) then don't be surprised if you can still dialup to the unmetered line for a few more hours/days.

This isn't an uncommon thing to see since the lines may not be run by WP directly, but they should eventually stop working. One of our readers also said the following:

It was hardly surprising, especially when I checked out their file at Companies House to find their accounts return is already overdue (due 11/01/02). If you're interested, visit http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/ and search for Route-Unix.

WPís website is now totally dead.

Danger To ISPs - Radius Servers Vulnerable

By:mark.j @ 9:41:AM - Comments (2) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

If you're familiar with ISPs or read this site on a regular basis then you'll have noticed several providers mention a 'Radius' server in some of their status updates.

Radius stands for 'authentication dial-in user service' and is a key part of the login process; it's often blamed for dropped connections at the 'authentication' stage. Unfortunately a Russian security researcher has uncovered some new vulnerabilities in the system.

The Protocol can be exploited with results including DoS (denial of service) attacks and the ability to run arbitrary code on the target device:

First up, according to a bulletin by '3APA3A', during authentication in several implementations a digest is created consisting of an initial packet, a message authenticator and a shared secret concatenated and calculated as an MD5 hash. Unfortunately, the process doesn't check for adequate space in the target buffer. Thus a shared secret can be used to overload the buffer, and cause a denial of service.

If the shared secret were accurately guessed, an attacker could get privileges on the target RADIUS client or server.

The Register's item comes from the U.S.A, however the UK uses a similar setup and so ISPs may be well advised to read TR's full news item and follow its links HERE, just to be safe.

BT Staff To Strike Over Job Security

By:mark.j @ 9:27:AM - Comments (1) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

BT (British Telecom) is bracing itself for a strike by a large number of staff following concern over pensions and job security, which is almost a contradiction in terms for the tech sector:

BT IT workers have voted to strike over pension rights and job security fears concerning their proposed transfer to Comptacenter. Negotiations with BT are still continuing.

Peter Foster, analyst, Ovum Holway, said: "In the BT case transfer of staff in outsourcing deals is always a risk. You need to consult with people at every step. For BT to get it wrong - they should know better.

It gives the indication that it might be worth challenging employers' decisions rather than meekly rolling over.

More @ VNUNet.

France Telecom Writes Off NTL Debt

By:mark.j @ 9:21:AM - Comments (1) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

NTL looks to be one of the culprits as the French telecoms operator France Telecom looks to reduce its £40Billion debt pile:

France Telecom is planning to write off E12bn (£7.4bn) of debt in NTL and MobilCom. France Telecom also said it does not plan to offer a rights issue.

More @ Silicon.

Cable Internet Switch-Off Date

By:mark.j @ 9:09:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Following on from the item we ran just over a month ago about how Telewest's pre-blueyonder ISP service 'Cable Internet' would soon finish for good, today DigitalSpy has confirmed the off date:

The final phase in cableinet.co.uk's transfer to blueyonder.co.uk is set for June 10. Telewest Broadband's ISP has sent a mailshot out to all mailboxes on the service, warning users of the impending switch-off.

The decommissioning progress, as reported previously here on DS, commenced last month. This final phase will see cableinet-based addresses cease functioning, with all customers then using blueyonder.co.uk addresses.

Blueyonder has set up a website where users can download a guide to the changes, and make appropriate adjustments to their mailboxes. The address is http://help.blueyonder.co.uk/connections/domainchange .

News - March 11,2002

V21 ISP Introduce Gaming Servers

By:mark.j @ 3:31:PM - Comments (4) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The unmetered dialup ISP V21 has today announced the launch of its new multiplayer gaming servers, full press release follows:

V21 has now successfully launched a number of games servers for our subscribers to use. These servers include games such as:-

Quake3 Arena
Medal of Honour
Half Life
Unreal Tournament
and more

For users that wish to try the servers for ping speeds can use the demo versions that are also running. Full details are available from within the members account area's.

To celebrate this successful launch, all V21 staff including Steve Kaye (MD) and Nick P (technical) will be on line on Friday between 8pm and 10 pm to challenge any other team that thinks they're up to it !

So to take up the Quake 3 Team V21 challenge all you need to do is email webmaster@v21.co.uk for the private server details.

Come on then if you think your hard enough........

Unfortunately the biggest problem for many of V21ís subscribers is still that of trying to get a working connection to the ISP, let alone play on its new multiplayer servers.

Having said that weíre still sure that a number of subscribers will be lining up to shoot the V21 staff in all of the above games =).

Next-Gen Broadband DSL Shows Itself

By:mark.j @ 3:25:PM - Comments (3) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The next generation of 'urban' broadband solutions for businesses, VDSL-DMT, just got its first showing at the FS-VDSL committee meeting in Colorado.

Californian chip company Ikanos demonstrated Ethernet download speeds @ 50Mbps (megabits per second) over a kilometre of copper wire:

The new technology, VDSL-DMT, also allows up to 28mbps uplink, and conforms to Plan 998 -- a standard for using radio frequencies over telephone cable. Aimed at in-building and densely populated urban applications, VDSL -- very high speed digital subscriber line -- is designed to connect buildings through telephone lines to nearby hubs in exchanges, or on the street, containing fibre backbones. It will provide high-quality video on demand, broadcast TV, and much faster digital media delivery, as well as better Internet access, but only for sites within a mile of a hub.

The demonstration took place at an FS-VDSL committee meeting in Colorado. The FS-VDSL committee is an industry group of some 70 companies dedicated to a speedy roll-out of much faster broadband, and includes BT, Deutsche Telekom, Bell Canada, Qwest Communications and many equipment manufacturers.

ZDNet reports that the new VDSL-DMT is compatible with existing ADSL standards, yet a commercial UK release is still some way off and such a technology is unlikely to be ideal for home users =).

However EasyNet are already offering 8Mbps ADSL for areas covered under their LLU plan (not many), these can even be bundled for speeds of up to 50Mbps.

AOL To Acquire UK Cable Operators?

By:mark.j @ 3:14:PM - Comments (6) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Apparently AOL Time Warner is looking to acquire a presence in the European broadband market by hunting for troubled cable operators:

AOL demonstrated its anxiety to inject new urgency into broadband when on Friday it replaced the head of its broadband unit. Audrey Weil, who has been head of the broadband unit since last summer, will leave in May. She will be replaced by Lisa Hook, who is currently head of the company's AOL Anywhere operation. "Audrey Weil is taking a break. She's coming back at the end of the summer and will take on new responsibilities," said a company official.

Europe's struggling cable operators represent an easy opportunity for AOL to develop its strategy with two of the major players, NTL Inc in the UK and Amsterdam, Netherlands-based United Pan-Europe Communications NV (UPC), both of which are involved in major restructuring operations that are likely to mean debt-for-equity swaps. This, in turn, has cast suspicion on operators such as Telewest Communications Plc that insist they are fully funded.

Quite what impact AOL buying into NTL or Telewest would have is somewhat unclear, although itís still an interesting thought, yet seems somewhat unrealistic (for now). More @ The Register.

BTs Preliminary Hyperlink Ruling

By:mark.j @ 2:57:PM - Comments (2) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The New York Times newspaper has today stated that a federal judge could soon make a preliminary ruling in BT's test case to enforce a patent covering hyperlinks:

The New York Times says the presiding judge Colleen McMahon is ready to rule after mulling introductory statements last month. A trial date has already been set for September 15.

BT has taken American ISP Prodigy to court alleging its use of common web links violates its intellectual property.

The New York Times says Judge McMahon could rule "any day now", despite being concerned that it could be difficult to find jurors able to cope with the inevitable technical jargon.

You can get all the details @ Ananova.

Freeserve Takes 'Customs' To Court

By:mark.j @ 9:53:AM - Comments (12) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The French Wanadoo backed UK ISP Freeserve is set to take HM Customs & Excise to court in its latest effort to overturn a loophole in tax law resulting in AOL UK's exemption from paying V.A.T (17.5%):

The ISP, Britain's biggest, filed for a judicial review of customs treatment of AOL - which it estimates saves the American giant £40m a year - on Friday (March 8). The case should be heard in a month or so, according to The Sunday Times, which was awarded the Freeserve scoop.

John Pluthero told the paper: "The UK government has been fobbing off Freeserve and BT for over a year on this issue. It's time for the evasion to stop and the litigation to begin."

AOL levies no VAT on its services in the UK, thanks to an indulgent -nay, eccentric - 1997 ruling that the company was a content provider operating outside the European Union, and therefore not liable to charge for VAT. If AOL UK had, like Freeserve, been a classified as a telecoms provider within the EU, then it would have had to charge VAT. AOL UK appears to have avoided this classification because its servers live in Virginia.

The Register's item also goes on to highlight how the above could be responsible for AOL not taking up BTs latest broadband price cuts.

Apparently they wouldn't want to price a product lower than could be sustained and itís beginning to looks as if AOL VAT exemption will soon come to an end. Of course the big question is, will this mean a price rise of average customers?

Who wants to buy Energis?

By:mark.j @ 9:44:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

Despite some good news last week concerning funding for the troubled telecoms group Energis, the company is still seriously considering its options, not least because of the wide range of potential buyers now showing interest:

The Sunday Telegraph names Worldcom as a bidder, while the FT reports that distress purchase/ private buyout firms Carlye Group, Kohlberg Kravis &Roberts, Providence Capital and Apax Partners have all tabled bids.

The FT also outs Peter Wilkinson, the guy who set up Planet Online - which he sold to Energis - and the founder of Sports Online, a company sold for the ludicrously large sum of £301m to BSkyB in April 2000 - i.e- a couple of months afterthe height of dotcom madness. He's supposed to be locked in with advisors UBS this weekend prepping an offer.

But Energis is, in the UK at least, a real business with real customers - as witnessed by the interest from trade and financial bidders. However, it carries a rack of debt on its books, accumulated through an ill-judged £1bn European buying spree (hindsight is not such a wonderful thing).

The Register reminds us that Energis is used by several ISPs and Freeserve aside, AOL UK and Vispa Internet are two that come to mind. We'll have to wait and see what kind of affect, if any, their evolving situation will have on such ISPs.

NTL Gains Samsung Set-top Box Tech

By:mark.j @ 9:36:AM - Comments (0) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The UKs largest cable operator, NTL, looks set to scale back Pace Micro's involvement with the production of its set-top boxes in favour of an alternative product by Samsung:

Pace has supplied the bulk of NTL's 2.25 million set-top boxes, which allow customers to receive digital television and high-speed internet access.

An NTL spokesman said Samsung's SMT-2100C product had more interactive features than its rival and was cheaper.

NTL's initial contract with Samsung, worth in the region of £30 million, will see the first shipments arriving in the UK in the coming months.

The Ananova item reports that the Samsung's kit is roughly 30% cheaper than Pace's alternative and that this should help combat NTLs £12 Billion of debt.

The cable operator claims that they won't be dropping Pace, although this will do little to please the already troubled technology manufacturer.

WonkyPig Closes Unmetered ISP

By:mark.j @ 9:26:AM - Comments (5) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

The unmetered dialup ISP WonkyPig, which has had numerous troubles since its inception and found it hard to find a footing in the market, has finally shut up shop. Today the website reads:

Wonkypig Internet Services are no longer in operation

So far there has been no press release or statement as to why they felt the need to close, although the tiny amount of activity in our WP Forum may suggest a reason.

We canít say that this comes as much of a surprise, constantly changing your look, Terms & Conditionís, pricing and services is not a good sign of long-lasting stability.

Never the less it's a pity to see another ISP bite the bullet, although many of their subscribers (if there were many?) will no doubt be glad given their reportedly poor customer services.

News - March 10,2002

ISP Review Weekly Update

By:mark.j @ 10:00:AM - - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

It's another short weekly update this weekend because I want to use some my spare (free) time to work more on updating the sub-sections and planning for the weeks ahead.

Indeed regular readers will have noticed that the 'ISP Complaints', 'About', 'Forum Intro' (one linked at the top [.shtml]) and 'Live Chat' page have all been revamped and updated this week.

Each of the primary sub-sections (bar one or two) will eventually be given the new layout. We've also made some smaller format changes to various aspects of the site to help streamline its look.

If there's time then we're may begin work on the next major forum upgrade and start planning for the new 'Security' section with information about everything from Firewalls to Dialup Networking (DUN) tweaks etc.

Hopefully this will all be completed for the end of March, thus allowing us to concentrate on the new 'Reader ISP Reviews' system, although right now it's too close to call.

NTL Expands Broadband - East London

By:mark.j @ 9:20:AM - Comments (9) - SendNews [HERE] / PrintNews [HERE]

DigitalSpy is reporting that East London will be the next inline for an upgrade to broadband cable modem services (ntl:home) come Monday (11th March 2002):

The areas to receive broadband will be:

*Remaining areas of Waltham Forest

Don't forget that the new 1Mbps broadband service is also set to be introduced on the same date tomorrow.


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