Felix Stalder on Sat, 15 Jun 2002 20:11:07 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> EboneKPNQwest going down at 5pm today!

[There's nothing without politics and these ones seems rather unusual. The
threat to shut down the network came from the employees, who understood
that a dead network is worth much less than one that still connects. You
could call it collective bargaining by threat of sabotage. But then the
old divide-and-conquer strategy was successful once again.

But there is another question here, closer to nettime. Why does this event
matter? My suspicion is that it doesn't matter all, to most of us. The
company went bankrupt because of overcapacities. In other words, they were
sitting on a network that nobody used. To turn it off would have had
little impact on the "Internet", I suppose. There is no shortage of
bandwidth. So why treat it as if it was a big deal, if it matters
primarily to the liquidators (i.e. the representative of corporate debt
holders, which tend to be large investors).

Isn't that what Thomas Frank talks about in Market Populism? By following
the "news" we all start to think like investors, even though we have
little or no investments, particularly in coporate debt. Felix]

KPNQwest dodges immediate shutdown
Fri Jun 14, 7:48 PM ET

Peter Judge

Just hours before a deadline set by former KPNQwest staff, liquidators for
the bankrupt service provider reached an agreement that should see the
network kept online--albeit only till the liquidators' own deadline of 31

Liquidators confirmed, after the 1700 CET deadline, that the network would
be kept online, probably for the rest of June, because a deal had been
struck with the disgruntled former employees of KPNQwest.

The liquidators want the network kept live till the end of June in order to
maintain it as an asset that is as saleable as possible. However, the
staff, who have been keeping it going unpaid since they were laid off by
the bankrupt service provider, demanded that all should be paid, or the
network would be shut down today, effectively leaving the liquidators with
a much less saleable asset.

The employees have settled for a deal which guarantees to pay 70 of them
for the next two weeks--a good deal short of the 350 they were reportedly
hoping to keep.

"I think the staff were naive to make the threat, but it is very difficult
for us on the outside to know what is actually going on," said Allen
Timpany, chief executive of Vanco, a packaged network operator.

Like most operators, Timpany is confident that a KPNQwest shutdown, if it
does occur, would have little effect on Internet performance, or on
individual users who have a sensible strategy. "Users should have a
conventional disaster recovery plan in place, which would also cover
economic disaster at their suppliers."

Large providers like BT and Sprint are lining up to offer service to
KPNQwest customers but the eventual business to be salvaged, from a network
once valued at $42 billion, may be small: "We have picked up tens of
customers, in contracts worth tens of millions of dollars," said Chris
Clark, president of carrier services at BT Ignite. "Figures of $500 million
have been quoted for KPNQwest's turnover but around 70 percent of that was
from the parent companies, and is not business we can win. My gut feel is
we are all chasing about $100 million to $200 million."

Les faits sont faits.

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