If you get a letter suggesting that you must “upgrade” your SBC DSL to “SBC Yahoo DSL,” burn it. It’s a fraud. Here’s some history to explain why.

For a brief moment last year, Pacific Bell’s broadband service and support was going pretty well. Techs were knowledgeable and problems were handled reasonably promptly. Then SBC finished its takeover and things started to go downhill. My clients have had nightmarish experiences trying to get DSL service lately.

Then came the partnership between SBC and Yahoo. SBC always supplied horrible software (the Enternet software to connect pre-WinXP systems to PPPOE DSL lines is awful), but the SBC Yahoo software is even worse. It serves no useful purpose whatsoever, but it thoroughly takes over your computer, hijacking your browser and e-mail and file associations, adding toolbars and messengers and icons and menu items, and making sure you’re exposed to lots of advertising and advertising and still more advertising.

Yahoo’s privacy policy is to invade your privacy. According to Yahoo’s privacy policy for DSL subscribers, Yahoo will happily make use of “information about you that is personally identifiable, like your name, address, e-mail address or phone number.” Yahoo says it will track DSL subscribers’ Internet browsing and share personal information with “trusted partners.” Such info will be used in part “to customize the advertising and content you see.”

SBC has a financial interest in getting you to install the Yahoo software – so it is concealing from you that every single bit of the Yahoo software is optional. You might get a letter that begins: “Your current Internet service has been replaced with SBC Yahoo DSL. You need to take action now to keep your account current.” Or maybe you’ll look online and see the flat statement, “SBC Yahoo DSL is replacing your existing Internet service.” Sounds mandatory, doesn’t it?

It’s a lie. The entire Yahoo experience is completely unnecessary. Nothing whatsoever will happen if you stay away from it. Here’s an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about SBC’s heavy-handed tactics and misrepresentations.

If you get new SBC DSL service, do not put the CD in the drive! Go buy a Linksys router. Set it up for PPPOE, and put in this user name and password:

Username: sbcyahooreg@sbcglobal.net

Password: sbcyahooreg

Go to this URL: https://sbcreg.sbcglobal.net/

Pick a user name and password and “register” the DSL line. But bail out the minute it tries to install software. Then go back to the router and put in your new user name and password. You’ll be up and running. And when the fraudulent “upgrade” letters come in, throw them away.