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BT comes clean on Mac ADSL support

Drivers definitely by the end of February... maybe...

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Updated Why can't BT get its act together and properly support ADSL Internet access from a variety of platforms?

Earlier today, we reported on Alcatel's upcoming release of Linux drivers for its SpeedTouch USB ADSL modem. In the UK, BT bundles the SpeedTouch with its domestic ADSL package, an offering that other ADSL providers essentially sell on to end users.

BT offers Windows 9x/NT/2000 support, but not Linux or Mac. According to the company's Web site - or, rather, that of its ADSL subsidiary BTOpenworld, nicknamed BTOpenwoe by frustrated users - the company plans "to support Apple Macintosh... in the future".

That's odd inasmuch as Alcatel offers Mac drivers for the SpeedTouch USB, but these - we thought - were fairly recent additions. Certainly, Alcatel's own Web site notes that Mac support is due sometime in "Q4 2000", so maybe BT hasn't been kept up to date. Neither has Alcatel's Web site - yesterday it announced the upcoming arrival of the Linux drivers, but its own site has yet to reflect the fact. The Mac drive release date on the Alcatel site comes from the SpeedTouch USB support FAQ - the main part of the site suggests that the modem now supports "MacOS 8.6 and 9.0".

And, indeed, BTOpenworld's own site offers Mac drivers for download. They're on its drivers download page, though users will need to obtain a password from the company before they can download them. The reason for that is that they're described as a "trial" product, by which we assume they're a beta, though that seems odd, given they're already at version 1.3.3.

It also seems odd in that the "trial" Windows ME driver (version 1.3.1) is available for download, and you don't even have to be an ADSL user to get it.

That said, you'll have a job tracking it down. BTOpenworld's download page isn't accessible from the outfit's main site - so our thanks got out to Register readers for letting us know about it and the drivers it contains.

Now if the Mac drivers are still on trial, we can understand why BT might not want to shout about Mac support on the main site. However, it is telling some Mac users that it soon will be.

One Register reader told us: "BT told me last week that the ADSL drivers for residential Macs would be finished during February. They advised me to call back the following week to see how things were going. So I called them yesterday and they casually told me its been delayed to 'late summer'. Late summer - can you believe it! This will translate to physical installation in November, if we're lucky."

This despite the fact that Alcatel maintains the drivers are done, and BT has a trial version available. It certainly sounds like BTOpenworld is winging it a bit here.

So what the heck is going on? Are the drivers done or not? Is BT still testing them? And if it can give callers a date, why can't it tell visitors to its Web site - or provide a consistent timeframe?

So we asked BT. Yes, we were told, the drivers are done, but BT is still providing them on a trial basis until it's sure they're ready for mass distribution. Trialists were chosen on a first come, first served basis, which is why more recent callers have been told to come back later. The company expects to make the drivers widely available "later this month", though that assumes the drivers work as well as BT wants them to, although Alcatel is clearly satisfied with them.

We shall see. ®

Update

Since we posted this story, Alcatel has posted its Mac drivers on its Web site. The drivers are only available for users living in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands or the UK, and the 7.54MB download isn't exactly small. But it is there. Or, rather, here.

Related Link

BTOpenworld's download site (for what it's worth) can be found here

Related Stories

Alcatel says 'yes' to Linux USB ADSL support
Linux people petition Alcatel for USB ADSL drivers
UK Linux users find alternatives to BT ADSL modem

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