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ATPM 6.05
May 2000



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Segments: Slices From the Macintosh Life

by Lee Bennett,

DSL and the Mac Followup

Thanks to everyone who responded to my soapbox moment about DSL. As a followup, I want to share what I’ve learned since last month—both from Sprint and from you.

First of all, my cancellation order from Flashcom is still pending. I’m still deciding whether or not to open a dispute case with my credit card company.

As far as Sprint is concerned, it seems that hooking up a Macintosh to a line with DSL will get you online just fine. The free MacPoET software is required, though some might have trouble finding it. Never fear—one reader helped out a lot in this matter, and his comments will appear below.

A word of notice, though. Neither I nor the ATPM staff are giving our seal of approval that you can simply install MacPoET and run a Sprint DSL connection. It’s up to you to decide if you want to try it. I haven’t finished trying out the connection—I only managed to try out Netscape, no e-mail software or anything else—but I noticed a few quirks when I later tried to dial up with my modem. The modem connected, but Outlook Express wouldn’t function properly. At one point, there was also an error message about SetupAP—an extension used by IPNetMonitor. Simply disabling the two files MacPoET places in the Extensions Folder solved the problem. This could be a clue as to why Sprint says it is still testing Macs using DSL.

Just last week, I noticed on EarthLink’s Web site that it will offer its DSL service in central Florida. It gave the impression that it would be this year. Who knows; perhaps EarthLink has realized Sprint has DSL going in the Orlando area and will be helping it start supporting Macs.

Here are some short takes from your responses:

Brock Gunter-Smith: Having gone through a struggle recently to get ADSL access for my apartment-bound Mac, I put up a real quickie page addressing some of the questions people like you had/have. (Note from Lee: this Web site provided me with the most useful information for my testing. It includes links where you can obtain MacPoET. Even though his page explained things better than EarthLink did, some of Brock’s information is specific to his ISP. You’ll have to do your own research to see what adjustments need to be made to use MacPoET with your ISP, but if you use EarthLink, this page should help — specifically the section on configuring the TCP/IP control panel.)

John Petko: Bell Atlantic offers DSL without the need for PPPoE, they supply a product called MacPoET. You can also use Vicom’s new SurfDoubler, which is the better product.

Marc McCoy: We Mac users are used to an existence in a non-supported world. Right now I’m using my G3 with a non-Mac-supported LinkSys router, non-supported DSL modem, and poorly Mac supported ISP. Funny thing is everything works great.

Greg Alton: Despite the claims, it shouldn’t be at all hard to support Macs. We have Bell Atlantic DSL, and they have some minor ‘issues’ with supporting Macs—they don’t officially support OS 9. In reality though, most users will probably find that while they may have to be authenticated on a windows machine, DSL should work. (We use both at this house.) The funny thing was that when the DSL installation guy was here installing the service on a Windows box (now dead), he said that the majority of problem issues he faces are with Windows machines. And when they choke, they choke bad. He told me a few stories about customers losing ‘everything’—all their data—on Windows. He said he had yet to see a significant problem on Macs, and that 95% of the time he was done in under twenty minutes (compared to close to an hour with PCs). Post Script: Bell Atlantic’s DSL does work with OS 9, but requires an update that they apparently haven’t put on CD yet. Grabbed it off the Web.

Chris Dunleavy: I have (after lots of contortions) a (great!) DSL connection to my Power Mac through Frontier Communications in New York. The problem is not with TCP/IP settings (same as PC), but with how the Mac OS handles subnet addressing...which is different than a PC with Windows. Cisco DSL routers out-of-the-box, for example, need to be patched to deal with this issue (or you can patch at the head end). I can easily imagine how many DSL providers aren’t going to want to deal with this!

E. Hunt Augustus: I had the same experience with Flashcom but they finally installed the service two days ago (after a ten-week wait), and it works beautifully. In fact, I got the multisurfer package and have a Web server running in my home/office in addition to AirPort-enabled surfing throughout my house and backyard. Getting set up was incrediably frustrating, but it was worth the wait!

Robert Herron: DSL service for the Mac has been available in western Canada for two years. I can’t believe the US telcos are so technologically backward. You would have to intentionally set out to only support PCs to end up not supporting Macs (or other platforms). Either that or you use inferior MS “educated” technical people who only learn how to write software for MS products then call themselves computer technicians/software developers. The only thing they have is a crappy piece of paper saying “Microsoft certified.”

Lastly, an EarthLink DSL tech support representative pointed me to for information about MacPoET and DSL. On that page is a link to instructions similar to Brock Gunter-Smith’s page, above, only this one is specific to EarthLink’s network.

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Reader Comments (5)

Michael Warzecha · May 8, 2000 - 01:01 EST #1
I have DSL thru US West just north of Denver,Co. Got it last August. Installation was quick and easy, setup was not. However, US West and MegaBit both had very helpful and courteous help-desk folks and after about a week of calls got everything running smoothly. I use a Cisco 675 modem and had good support from Cisco too. My link is Dynamic ADSL, 270kbps up and 640kbps down,via TCP-IP/DHCP. Since I got service, the server has been down twice, both for only an hour or two. No special software(no clue about MacPoet), just the browser, Netscape 4.7.3, but am considering Internet Exploder. I had some issues with net time updating and streaming video/audio, but the seem to be fixed with new Quicktime or OS 9.0.4(works fine now). Take the time, endure the hassle, it beats dial-up hands down.
Jim Pietrangelo · September 10, 2000 - 01:01 EST #2
I have DSL service provided to me through a company called Telocity. I've had it now for at least 6 months or so. From day one it worked flawlessly right out of the box. They send you the modem, you plug it into your ethernet line and off you go. I never had to see or make an appointment with a field service rep. I have a 266 mhz Rev C iMac with 96 mb memory. I don't think Telocity is available everywhere, but I highly recommend it to those who can get it.
Darryl Sanford · May 11, 2001 - 23:02 EST #3
I live in San Francisco, CA, and had the opportunity
David Firth · March 29, 2002 - 21:15 EST #4
I have had DSL on my PowerBook 3400 for about a month now and Earthlink, though friendly and committed to being Mac-compatible, seems to be having problems recently. I've been down or working unreliably for days at a time. There are trouble items on their status page about MacPoET and routing. Hope they work it out.

Dave, Columbus OH.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 31, 2002 - 21:18 EST #5
I realize this page is now a year and a half old, but as a point of additional follow up, I'll point out that I was pretty happy with my Sprint DSL service (and Earthlink ISP) until I learned that Earthlink had been added as an ISP choice over a Roadrunner cable modem connection. For about the same money ($5/month less, actually), I could get far more bandwidth, and with Earthlink as the ISP, my need for dialup access when I was on the road was of the biggest reasons I didn't sign up for Roadrunner in the first place.

I called Sprint to inform them that unless they were planning to increase the bandwidth on the $50/month service, they were likely to lose me as a customer. Somehow, I had been connected to a pretty down-to-earth phone representative who couldn't do anything to raise the DSL speeds, but was sympathetic to what I was talking about. She didn't blame me and even commented that the Sprint technical execs are well aware that their competition offers vastly better speeds for about the same price. "They don't care," she said. FastConnect isn't an important source of Sprint's revenue.


Needless to say, 2 months later (I had to complete 1 year of service in order to have received the free DSL modem) I did not renew my contract. (Anyone want to buy an Alcatel Speed Touch Home DSL modem REALLY REALLY cheap?)

My first month or two (or three?) of Roadrunner service wasn't without woes, though. Speeds were rarely better than the DSL and often worse. Time Warner tried to fix it by replacing the cable modem, but that only marginally improved it. After MANY phone calls, I finally convinced them to check out what I suspected ... that my area's node was pretty saturated. I don't blame them for not wanting to admit that nodes get saturated, but I expect them to do something about it when there is a problem. Well, 2-3 months after I got on Roadrunner, it suddenly occurred to me one evening that my speeds (during prime time) were pretty nice. It was as if someone had flipped a switch!

So, all's well that ends well, I suppose.

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