UPDATE: California ISPs fight NorthPoint blackouts

An association representing California ISPs (Internet Service providers) filed a motion with the state utilities commission Thursday to prevent NorthPoint Communications. from causing "rolling blackouts for Internet access" for thousands of the state's users.

Facing financial difficulties, NorthPoint warned customers Wednesday that they should expect network outages and cancellation of DSL (digital subscriber line) services "immediately." The California ISP Association (CISPA) said Thursday that NorthPoint has already begun a staged shutdown of its DSL services in the state.

NorthPoint doesn't sell services to end users directly, but sells access to its DSL network to ISPs across the US, including Verio, Telocity., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN (Microsoft Network) and XO Communications, who in turn provide services to end users.

The California ISP Association said it filed its motion with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), requesting that the CPUC block NorthPoint from cancelling Internet access to 40,000 users in the state. The group claims smaller ISPs could help end users avoid the blackouts if they are given enough time to act, according to the statement.

CISPA requested a temporary restraining order to prevent NorthPoint from stopping its services, asking that the company be required to extend its operations for at least 30 days. It wasn't immediately clear what action, if any, the CPUC would take.

NorthPoint sold some of its assets to AT&T in March, as part of an effort to gain extra time for moving its customers to other DSL services. NorthPoint, however, admitted these plans did not work out as it had hoped, and urged its customers to contact their ISPs directly for information about future Internet service.

The California ISP Association is at http://www.cispa.org/. NorthPoint, in San Francisco, can be contacted at +1-415-403-4003 or at http://www.northpoint.net/.

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