Ore. PUC Halts U S West on ADSL


Oregon regulators last week slapped a two-week delay on U S
West's plans to roll out its new high-speed Internet-access technology.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission put a hold on the
launch of asymmetrical-digital-subscriber-line service after questions arose about how
many Internet-service providers had been outfitted with the necessary high-speed phone

Some ISPs complained at last week's PUC meeting that
they were unsure what facilities U S West had provided and, as a result, they have not had
time to test the service.

"One thing is certain: There has been virtually no
testing done," PUC commissioner Joan Smith said.

ADSL technology allows consumers to surf the Internet while
talking on the same phone line.

The commission approved the launch of the new service in
July, but under the proviso that it would delay the unveiling if U S West could not
demonstrate that it had adequately provisioned competing ISPs.

As a result, U S West will not be able to roll out ADSL
service until Sept. 16, and then only if it can document that it has met a majority of the
orders received from ISPs for high-speed phone lines.

Smith said the commission wanted to avoid a repeat of a
similar situation in Washington state, where only four of 30 ISPs seeking to deliver the
new U S West service to consumers had been properly provisioned.

"It was clear that four out of 30 would not be
acceptable," Smith said. "We wanted to make sure that everybody was at the
starting gate before [ADSL] was rolled out."

U S West spokesman Jim Haines said the RBOC felt that it
had done a "good job of provisioning the service," but it will work with the
state's ISPs in order to provide the PUC with a "more complete picture of what
has been done" at its Sept. 15 meeting.

"[The delay] is disappointing, but the bottom line is
that now, we have a date when we can start offering this service to customers,"
Haines said. "We don't see any reason why we can't be up and running by the
middle of this month."

Last week's action by the PUC was the third delay for
ADSL service in Oregon. The commission suspended U S West's request to roll out the
technology in April, amid worries that the regional Bell operating company would have been
in a position to steer consumers to its own ISP business, U S West.net.