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California orders NorthPoint to restore DSL

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NorthPoint was on Friday, March 30 ordered to restore its DSL service for almost half of its former customers.

The Californian Public Utilities Commission told the bankrupt DSL carrier it must give at least 30 days' notice of plans to shut down its network to the 40,000 users in the state. It must therefore temporarily continue its service, or give it back to customers already disconnected.

The ruling does not affect the 60,000 former NorthPoint customers in other states in the US, who have been gradually losing their service since last week. Their fate is to now wrestle with dial-up services while they wait for their ISPs to switch them to other DSL carriers.

The PUC's decision came just days after the bankrupt DSL carrier started unplugging its network, leaving its 200 ISP resellers fuming and their customers in the lurch.

But it is unclear whether NorthPoint will comply with Friday's order.

The PUC, which regulates privately-owned utility companies in California, has the power to fine NorthPoint if it doesn't reinstate its DSL network, but NorthPoint claims to have no cash, and on Friday it laid off around 700 staff (70 per cent of its workforce).

On Friday the company's Attorney Michael Olsen told AP: "We would love to honour the order, but there's nothing we can do."

"NorthPoint is gone. We don't have any money."

An AT&T representative today said the ruling would not affect its deal with NorthPoint - last month the telco giant agreed to pay $135 million for NorthPoint's DSL network and equipment, but not its customer base. He told The Register he was unaware if NorthPoint would agree to the CPU ruling.

NorthPoint failed to return calls today. ®

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