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Well, things have been working reliably for a day now. I'll be sure to repost to this thread if things fall apart again, but in the mean time we'll assume that this fix will work for Prodigy users having trouble authenticating:
Get to a tier-2 tech... this is not easy. Here are some tips:
Be SURE they find the entry in the Network Operations Center (NOC) for this problem -- it will likely "be in yellow" indicating off-and-on problems. That tech will have instructions to take down some info like what you used to register (cd vs sbcreg.sbcglobal.net), etc, then assign your case to a general case number that identifies you as being one of a large group having this problem.
Remind them that you know that the Tier-2 tech can fix the problem, and that they need to be filling out the form they need to pass you on. Make mention to 'the escalation desk' -- there's a manager there that needs to OK this transfer to tier-2.
Be absolutely sure that they don't start down the path of normal trouble-shooting -- asking for your username/password to try to log in themselves, rebooting the machine/modem, creating test pppoe connection, etc.
When you get to the tier-2 tech, give them a chance to review the problems, then let them know that the fix seems to be to have them walk through the Yahoo registration to get their authentication server updated.
Walking through the SBC registration with the expectation that the SBC server will push the info to the Yahoo server does not seem to work regularly.
If this does not work, then the fall-back position is to throw away your Prodigy account, and start over as a new SBC/Yahoo user. They talk about this as "deleting your existing VANTIV workskeet, and creating an new on as a new user."
Also keep in mind that you can ask CCCMTech, ADSLGuy, or Toaster to do this for you as well.