Nov 27, 2001 - PacHell.com content is now hosted on a non-SBC server.
Oct 11, 2001 - PacBell management has threatened to cut off service to this site unless all content at this site is removed. In discussing their concerns, they specifically object to "advertising proprietary information" and the links to sites that are "defamatory" or use domain names that are a "mockery". This demand comes at a time when PacBell Internet's customer self-support groups are unavailable, their tech support has no details on the how to get access, and their status page still says "normal". This "PacHell" page may be the only web source of accurate Usenet access details for communicating with other customers about the outages. The DNS delay info is certainly NOT proprietary, and it concerns perceived server performance all over the net. This site has a clear explanation of a problem that is affecting all customers but is largely unrecognized. (For the price of one 30 second TV spot smearing a bankrupt cable competitor for having congestion problems at peak hours, PacBell's DNS congestion problem could be quickly fixed.) Please solve the problem rather than shoot the messenger.
Now for the supposedly objectionable content, while expecting a response from my appeal...
PacBell becomes PacHell when something critical is broken. SBC's PBI (PacBell Internet) division is agressively marketing their ADSL product, when the service is already suffering from overload. I get my email and Usenet news elsewhere, so those continuing outages don't bother me. I'm simply looking for a solid DSL Internet connection. No glitz or hype, please. Those deceptive PacBell smear campaign ads are really irritating.
-- Ed Anderson
PacBell "PARK" - Got looooong delays when first connecting to a server?
It's probably the overloaded PacBell Internet nameservers. All PBI customers are being affected, there is no escape by using an alternate domain name server, and the problem is getting worse. SBC has been plastering the airwaves with more claims about high speed networking, and PR about high speed fiber being tested. This is all moot if remote hosts are stalled when trying to resolve the addresses of SBC customers using their services. All the reverse lookups for PBI go through only two DNS servers, and they're swamped. Daytime PBI reverse lookup failures are currently at around 75% on average, with frequent periods where both PBI servers are 100% unresponsive. Other ISP's reliably return a reverse lookup in a fraction of a second. Please read the full explanation and spread the word to other customers.
The reverse-lookup problem has gotten severe enough that PBI's Usenet servers (and possibly the email servers) are often refusing to authenticate users because they can't be identified as PBI customers. If the dialup.pacbell.net account config site ever redirects your browser to public.pacbell.net, that's probably because it can't see you're a customer from your IP aaddress.
|DNS lookup failure rate and Delay (ms) history for PacBell's primary nameserver|
|Click on the graph for DNS details and Packet loss charts through PBI.|
This graph is an indication of DNS name lookup failures and delay for PacBell's main server. Because the primary servers are used by remote sites for reverse lookup of all addresses in the PBI netblock, all connectivity through PacBell Internet can suffer delays. A third party DNS or cache can be used to minimize the common forward DNS lookup delays, but not the reverse lookups from remote hosts. These PBI DNS failures result in remote server retries, usually halting all response until the lookup is resolved or the remote server hits a failure timeout limit.
Recent samples are at the right end of the graph. Green represents the average lookup delay in thousandths of a second. Blue shows the percentage of failed requests. Samples are taken every five minutes. Shift-reload this page if the graph is showing old data. Click the graph for historical graphs, and charts of router response through the PBI network.
DSL AlternativesThe only way to escape the slow reverse DNS problem and iffy PBI mail/news is to use an alternate ISP. Pacbell ADSL as a last-mile connection can be acceptable once it's installed, and other service providers may deliver over the same hardware what PBI cannot. They have difficulty matching PBI's privileged pricing, but the improved service may be worth the extra cost. Here are some links to reviews and info about various service providers:
- SF bay area ba.internet and global comp.dcom.xdsl Usenet newsgroups
- DSL Reports - leave your own PBI review
- Epinions DSL reviews and Warnings about Pacbell Internet
- PacBell's list of ADSL ISP Alternatives to PBI/Prodigy (same equipment)
Other PacBell user efforts
- the Extremely Unofficial PacBell ADSL Page and FAQ - Excellent!
- Navas Cable Modem/DSL/PPPoE Tuning Guide - Very informative
- Marc Kupper's DSL Resources - tips, links, Pacific Bell and ASI contacts
- Pacbell-DSLUserGroup mailing list and archive (subscription required)
- DSL HOWTO for Linux - Good general troubleshooting info - also as plain text
- The SmellyEyeball Don't Do It Yourself PacBell DSL Page - wiring explained
- ADSL Personal Status page
- PacBell DSL - How they REALLY treat their customers (blow by blow details)
- Utility Consumer Action Network lawsuit against PacBell
- PatheticBell.com - PacBell DSL Customers: Fight Back!
- Pac-Hell.com - another unsatisfied customer warning others
- WeHatePacificBell.com "Cheerful Discussion about The Nation's Worst Customer Service"
- PinkBell.net - showing how SBC/PacBell has become a top haven for spammers
- PBIsucks.com message board
Software for testing and monitoring your connection:
- PingPlotter for Windows (traces routes & charts packet loss)
- Piing Monitor for Windows charts packet loss and delays
- SamSpade.org Lots of online tools, cool MSWin tool has graphic traceroute
- Shareware Windows connectivity tools
- NeoTrace geographical traceroute for windows (shareware)
- NetMedic monitor for Windows review tryout (CPU hog, tattles to mfg?)
- Internet Measurement Tools Survey
- Pathchar path characterization, by the author of Traceroute (unix root only)
- VNC Virtual Network Computing Free cross-platform remote computer interface!
- DMOZ directory - Internet Network Management Software
Online tools for status and speed testing
- Visual Ping Tool Very cool! (PBI should offer this tool locally)
- Internet Health report - Tier 1 connectivity matrix display (PBI uses Sprint)
- Internet Traffic report
- Internet Weather report - animated maps of outages and lag
- UCSC.edu Internet Weather report - PBI lag and packet loss chart
- UCI.edu Internet Weather report - PBI lag and packet loss chart
- UCLA.edu Internet Weather report - PBI lag and packet loss chart
- Matrix IQ ISP connectivity ratings and running Internet averages
- Matrix TraceMap visually maps traceroute results (from TX and VA)
- Pacbell network status from Mother.com
- Treno and Traceroute from NLANR (with source code)
- speedtest.mybc.com (Canadian) needs Java enabled
- Bamazed speedtest needs Java enabled
- Intel download calculator needs Java enabled
- DSLreports Java Speed Test current ISP comparison
- Speedtest used by PBI tech support (lame) FTP download of Netscape 4 from PBI server
- SBC customer care
- PacBell Network Status Page (PBI customers only)
- SBC Enterprise Status Page
- SBC DataComm Customer Care Trouble report form
- ASI FasTrakView DSL Maintentance Windows Announcements with ATM and FrameRelay demo
- Java DSL Speed Test from a PacBell server via fastrakview.com
Tweaking your connection:
- How to increase cable modem/DSL speed in Windows by John Navas
- Tuning your system for Broadband - Linden deCarmo
- ADSL Speedzone
- ADSL Tweaks and Peeks
- Enabling High Performance Data Transfers
- TCP Window Size explanation
- Speedguide Windows registry tweaks (cable)
- Mark Rejon's ADSL reports personal install tips
- Sustainable Softworks has several useful tools for the Mac.
- DSLreports Speed Tweaks and Speed Limits
- Accessing Alcatel 1000 and Speedtouch Home Web Interface - telnet too, only more recent models
- Westell WebShare - Wirespeed ADSL modem firmware upgrade to PPPoE & 'router'
General DSL Help
- DSL FAQ Frequently Asked Questions from the comp.dcom.xdsl Usenet group
- PPPoE details by John Navas - recommends using free RASPPPoE
- PacBell DSL Help Center - Troubleshooting and PPPoE Drivers
- Phone wiring FAQ
- PracticallyNetworked HowTo - share a net connection with computers on your LAN
- Home Network Security - a MUST READ from CERT.org
Help with Usenet News
Having trouble with PacBell Internet's Usenet service? The internal server problems have persisted for years, but there is now another reason for missing articles and poor propagation. Because they have neglected to maintain server security and enforce their Acceptable Use Policies, SBC/PacBell/SWBell has become a top haven for email and Usenet spammers. Other ISPs are responding to the the flood of net-abuse by blacklisting Pacbell.net servers and invoking a UDP - Usenet Death Penalty. As of October 2001, SBC has responded to the UDP by taking its existing servers offline and attempting to migrate all users to servers maintained by Prodigy. This is hinted at in a notice that was emailed to some users, but it never gave accurate details about the names of the new NNTP servers. There's a lame web page that isn't linked from the support pages.
Unfortunately for PacBell customers, the news.sf.sbcglobal.net and news.la.sbcglobal.net servers are thoroughly broken, depsite the status page claiming that all systems are normal, and support techs telling users that the problem must be in their newsreader settings. It is possible to get access through the new SWBell servers, although that's probably by accident.
Tip # 1:
Stop trying to use the servers that are pooled by cityname. They often behave differently depending on which server gets resolved by the DNS. Choose them instead specifically by their actual name or IP address:
SWBell (for starters):
PacBell (in case these start working when managed by Prodigy):
newssvr13.news.prodigy.com (188.8.131.52) (sf/la) Broken
newssvr14.news.prodigy.com (184.108.40.206) (sf/la) Broken
newssvr21.news.prodigy.com (220.127.116.11) Broken
Ameritech (all cities currently point to this server:)
A full email address and password are required for authentication with the new servers. The email@example.com accounts are only allowed on the PacBell servers, and firstname.lastname@example.org only on SWbell servers. (Hint: Using that rule, it is possible for Pacbell users to login to Swbell servers, perhaps under a nonsense username.)
Once access is gained, don't expect activity in any pbinet.* groups, since few PacBell customers have achieved Usenet access. Look for semi-official explanations and answers in this Prodigy support group: prodigynet.help.tech.newsgroups
NNTP Servers: open-news.pacbell.net
Disabled but back 7/27/01
same server, new name
BROKEN Oct 7, 2001
A server that doesn't carry binary groups
(may allow outside access to pbinet.*)
web interface available for remote access
Disabled mid-July 2001. Apparently PBI can't tell who its legitimate users are because so many passwords have been compromised by other security lapses. After the server was repeatedly used to flood the net-abuse discussion forums, the only solution PBI could come up with is to shut off the server. Even legitimate customers are now denied access with this greeting:
"502 Permission Denied - This system is no longer availible for service. Please abuse another server. (Typhoon v1.2.3)"
Closed Feb 18, 2001
Former best choice, no password required for SBC users.
(SBC merged w/ Prodigy, which bought Flashnet)
no pbinet.* or swbell.* groups (except what leaks out)
OFFLINE Oct 7, 2001
Uses same servers as news.pacbell.net but excludes lame SoCal server
PBI users blocked
(was the popular choice, misses fewer aticles)
all PBI users now blocked.
Password required for swbell users.
OFFLINE Oct 7, 2001
slow and spotty, posts go into the ether (better 5/99)
6/2000 - even slower, now capped at 12 KB/sec, still spotty.
Extra login and password now required (yet another obstacle).
Random choice of four servers in the "farm".
Experiments with accessing by raw IP addr may avoid a dead server:
18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 or 188.8.131.52
Now aliased to news.pacbell.net
(Was) similar in coverage to swbell, reportedly slower, password required
PBI users can't post
PBI users blocked Oct 7, 2001
Currently read-only, no posting (yet?)
no password required for SBC users, no pbinet.* or swbell.* groups
7/24/2001 - still read-only, but a password is now required
(PBI customers - try using "email@example.com" and "anypass")
Actually one of two randomly assigned servers that have different characteristics.
Try picking the better of 184.108.40.206 or 220.127.116.11
SWBell only? 7/2001
Two servers. Try logging in with real firstname.lastname@example.org and password news.sf.sbcglobal.net
PacBell only? 8/2001
BROKEN Oct 7, 2001
Try logging in with email@example.com and password
Actually two servers: 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124
Both names randomly access either server, but they may someday split
Newsgroups: search the Pacbell user site map for a full list prodigynet.help.tech.newsgroups Only available from Prodigy or new SBCglobal servers
The group is monitored by helpful employees.
See the Prodigy help pages for more newsgroups.
pbinet.adsl local PBI ADSL group pbinet.discussion local PBI discusison group alt.online-service.pacbell global PBI discussion group (gaining momentum)
Crosspost to this group so complaints will be seen!
comp.dcom.xdsl global discussions of DSL datacom technology ba.internet discussions about SF Bay Area ISP's (including DSL options)
- Newsplex NNTP multiplexer for Windows or Unix, collects missing posts (download, details)
- Hamster for Windows, merges multiple Usenet NNTP servers (translated) FAQ MailList
- AllNews for Windows, for comparing NNTP servers and finding posts. Clunky but Cool!
- Open and Public NNTP servers for filling in the gaps
- Newsreaders.com for choosing one of the good newsreaders
- NNTPcache consolidates oddball groups on different NNTP servers (unix only)
- news.pbi.net outflow stats at newsm.IBM.net (a fine example of what PBI lacks)
- Usenet quoting tips for newbies (edit quotes and put 'em at the beginning of your post!)
Misc related linksDSL Distance Qualifier at ConnectNet
- PBI DSL status page (visible from outside PBI)
- Pueblo.PBI.net troubleshooting database ??
- public.pacbell.net online FAQs
- PacBell Telesis Annual Report from the SEC
- SBC press releases
- PBI hosting reliability guarantee - congestion note, 65% peering performance claim
- Pac*Bell DSL Announcement - speed guarantees
- Pac*Bell DSL FAQ - speed guarantee disclaimer (no guarantees)
- PacBell to Prodigy migration info Old info - it never happened.
- List of PacBell ADSL ISP Alternatives to PBI/Prodigy (same equipment)
- PacBell Spam Disclaimers But they DO sell the list, and have serious security leaks
Other reportsAre you an SBC customer with a Cayman DSL router? You may have a serious security hole. The routers are delivered without password protection, and come configured to reveal themselves to any web browser in the world. Check your own router to see if it is vulnerable. The security alert dates from May 2000, but SBC has done little to inform or protect their customers. Thousands of customers are currently vulnerable.
Security Incidents originating from PacBell.net reported daily by MyNetWatchman agents.
Utility Consumer Action Network lawsuit against PacBell - filed July 11, 2000
Send in detailed complaints by email to support this ongoing effort.
- PUC complaint against PacBell "Cramming" filed by UCAN UCAN Jan 7, 2002
- UCAN Consumer Alert and Court Complaint against SBC DSL UCAN Dec 10, 2001
- No settlement in SBC fight Cnet Oct 5, 2001
- CPUC Fines PacBell $25.5 Million for Deceptive Marketing Tactics UCAN Sept 20, 2001
- SBC unfair on high-speed Net, ISPs charge Cnet Jul 26, 2001
- How to blow up your ATM network DSLreports May 30, 2001 - read the real PacBell outage story
- Pacific Bell outage affects Net, 911 - CNet May 25, 2001
- California Hit by Pacific Bell Outage - AP May 25, 2001 (ATM, not ATMs)
- It really stands for 'Delays So Long' - SFGate May 24, 2001
- Huge jump in gripes over phone service, 47,000 complaints to state over 2 years - SFGate May 19, 2001
- Broadband users - beware of hackers - SFGate May 6, 2001
- Pac Bell Hell - DSL Customer Complaints Are Legion But Options Are Limited - SFGate Mar 8, 2001
- Pacific Bell sued over promotional practices, hookup delays - PCWorld Mar 1, 2001
- Security flaw found in Alcatel DSL modems - Cnet Apr 10, 2001 - Risky with Explorer bugs
- With DSL providers fading, customers cringe - Cnet Apr 4, 2001 - Monopoly, anyone?
- EarthLink hikes DSL price by $10 - Cnet Mar 7, 2001
- High speed rate hikes may be on the horizon - Cnet Feb 29, 2001 - after SBC 25% hike
- I Hate My Frickin' ISP -- Todd Rundgren - Shockwave performance (full window)
- Net firm sued for providing slow Web access - USAToday Aug 18,2000 - (slightly inaccurate title)
- DSL Users Sue Over Slowness - WiredNews Aug 18, 2000 - 128k caps on email and news
- DSL impairing neighborhood modem speeds (PacBell WEBHOG ads are a deception)
- PBI blames week of router outages on lack of prompt user complaints! - SF Chronicle July 6, 2000
- Pac Bell puts speed limits on some DSL customers - CNet June 30, 2000 WebHog?
- SBC signs contract with CSG Systems - PRnewswire June 20, 2000 for DSL customer care
- 'Always On' - Sometimes - SF Examiner June 11, 2000 mentions this PacHell page!
- Pac Bell email is delayed - SF Examiner June 7, 2000 (people did report lost email)
- Prodigy, SBC close Net subscriber merger - CNet June 1, 2000
- Survey of ISP interaction with local phone companies - NewNetworks.com April 4, 2000
- Pac Bell fined 44 Million for numerous deceptive sales tactics - SF Chron Jan 20, 2000
- Broadband, Narrow Choices - PCWorld Feb 2000
- High-speed slowdowns draw user complaints - CNet Nov 24, 1999
- SBC, Prodigy team to boost Net access offerings - Nov 22, 1999
- DSL Rumors from DSLreports.com
- FCC approves deal to create largest local phone firm - Oct 6, 1999
- Outages threaten Pacific Bell contract - Oct 4, 1999 State agencies and taxpayers pay the price
- Users fault Pac Bell's DSL speed - Sept 17, 1999 CCTimes article quotes fellow sufferers
- SBC merger could boost DSL competition July 6, 1999 - more SBC news
- Problems plague high-speed DSL service July 16, 1999 - more SBC news
- DSL problems slow high-speed Net surfers, July 28, 1999 - more DSL news
- C/Net Special Feature: High Speed Pipe Dreams?, July 28, 1999 - more DSL news
- DSL: Don't be Duped, April 21, 1998 - Old but detailed article on DSL pitfalls
Hey PacBell!Please use this MRTG software to display your network status. It is designed to peek at the router stats using an SNMP call every few minutes. Here's an example at Abovenet of how to display PacBell router stats. If you can't spare an engineer for the job, I volunteer to install it on one of your servers for you.
An alias shortcut to this page is http://welcome.to/pachell
Please submit any comments or useful links to the pbinet.adsl ba.internet or comp.dcom.xdsl public newsgroups. That way, more people might benefit from your input.
This page carries (as if it needed to be stated) Copyright © 1999 by Ed Anderson
This Welcome to PacHell page has been online since February 7, 1999