News tagged: AT&T Midwest
The FCC today voted unanimously to begin conducting voluntary trials to ensure a relatively smooth and reasonable transition away from the PSTN and copper networks. The push for such trials began in earnest after Verizon refused to repair the DSL and copper POTS lines of hurricane Sandy victims, instead forcing them to instead use an inferior wireless-based product
known as VoiceLink, which doesn't work with alarm systems, has numerous glitches, and doesn't provide data connectivity.
Verizon's insistence that this was "good enough," and the immense public backlash to that claim, forced the FCC to admit that this transition might need a regulatory guiding hand.
In an FCC announcement
, the FCC says the carrier deadline for the voluntary trials are due by February 20, followed by a public comment period ending March 30. The trials themselves will be conducted for one year. The FCC insists that the process of ensuring a smooth transition away from the PSTN will be guided by four major principles:
•Public safety communications must be available no matter the technology
•All Americans must have access to affordable communications services
•Competition in the marketplace provides choice for consumers and businesses
•Consumer protection is paramount
Keep those promises at the very front of your mind as this effort moves forward. Particularly the ones promising affordability, choice and competition -- since there's a very good likelihood this transition will make all three dramatically worse.
Carriers, bewitched by the immense profits in wireless and bored with the slower returns from fixed-line residential networks, have set the stage to hang up on tens of millions of DSL and POTS users in similar fashion over the next few years, informing them that very expensive and heavily capped wireless service is good enough (tip: it's not
Stop the Cap story continues..
directs your attention to the fact that AT&T's recent talk about network upgrades have started making investors nervous. AT&T has traditionally put investor returns far ahead of fixed-line network infrastructure investment or customer support, and their recent announcement of 1 Gbps fiber to the home service in Austin
in particular seems to have thrown some investors for a loop.
The Lansing State Journal
notes that Michigan legislation backed by AT&T would allow phone companies to discontinue landline service -- and the DSL service that runs over it -- with just 90 days' notice beginning in 2017. This is just one of dozens of similar pushes in states around the country as AT&T and Verizon lay the groundwork for hanging up on users they refuse to upgrade to next-gen services
and no longer want.
AT&T has been working hard to gut regulations governing traditional phone service so they can exit the landline (DSL & POTS) business in numerous areas and focus on the real money maker: wireless. To do this, they've been going state to state, promising locals a cornucopia of broadband upgrades
-- if only locals agree to eliminate all pesky remaining regulations.
AT&T has yet to offer a single customer 1 Gbps service, but that didn't stop AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson today from hinting at additional
1 Gbps market launches that may or may not happen. To counter media excitement created by Google Fiber's move into Austin last April, AT&T issued an ambiguous announcement
one day later proclaiming they were "prepared to build" networks with "advanced fiber optic infrastructure" under select circumstances.
Last week AT&T rather quietly deployed an LTE service aimed at home users called, quite creatively, AT&T Wireless Home Phone and Internet
. Like Verizon's Home Fusion
service, AT&T's Wireless Home Phone and Internet service is aimed squarely at rural users without any fixed-line options.
We've been talking for more than a year about how Verizon is jacking up DSL prices and returning to forcing DSL users to bundle costly landline service in order to drive those users to their new cable industry BFFs
, resulting in a stronger cable monopoly. Elsewhere, Verizon is using Sandy damage as an excuse to abandon millions of customers, refusing to repair downed lines and offering a lower quality Voice Link wireless voice only service as a "replacement
This is one of the biggest transitions in telecom in thirty years, and as such you'd think the mainstream press would notice it was going on.
A few weeks back, in response to Google Fiber, AT&T announced a plan for fiber to the press release in Austin
. That is, the company issued a very weaselly-worded statement claiming they were "prepared to build" an "advanced fiber optic infrastructure" technically capable of 1 Gbps if
they saw the precise perks they wanted from regional regulators.
AT&T appears poised to begin offering new U-Verse speed tiers that should offer a belated speed increase for bandwidth-hungry users. Earlier this year AT&T promised users
they'd eventually see 75-100 Mbps using line bonding, though the company was somewhat murky on deployment time -- or upstream speeds.
AT&T has started using push polls and astroturf to convince Kentucky residents losing their DSL lines, paying higher prices, and losing all state consumer protections is going to work out really well for them. AT&T is of course going state to state
insisting their telecom regulations need "modernizing" for an all IP age.
As I've been noting, both AT&T and Verizon have been busy trying to gut absolutely all regulatory oversight of those companies
, in the process severing the DSL and landlines of tens of millions of users
, who'll have to flee to an even less-competitive cable monopoly, more-expensive and capped LTE service, or even pricier and more-heavily capped satellite broadband.
The gadget-obsessed press and incumbent-beholden regulators so far have napped through the implications of this, as AT&T's claim that regulations simply need to be "modernized" as we go all IP appears to have lulled most of them into a compliant slumber.
Yesterday we noted that despite the copyright industry's new "six strikes" anti-piracy campaign launch, just one ISP had bothered to put anything about the plan on their website
. AT&T sent us a statement justifying their lack of website information by saying they intend to communicate directly with impacted users.
Verizon and AT&T want to get out of maintaining or upgrading the tens of millions of DSL users so they can focus on wireless, a move that makes obvious business sense from their perspectives. Verizon Wireless isn't unionized, so Verizon gets rid of union headaches. story continues..
After several significant delays, the entertainment industry and most of the nation's largest ISPs are set to launch their "six strikes" graduated response anti-piracy efforts starting today. Sources familiar with the plan timetable have told both Daily Dot
and Torrent Freak
that six strikes starts today, and a new Center for Copyright Information website
run by the entertainment industry appears to have been freshly launched for the occasion (see new video, below).
Back in 2011 the FCC began collecting real-world user broadband data from customized routers, then issuing reports on which ISPs were failing to deliver advertised speeds. It's one of the few FCC policies in recent years that has truly paid dividends for consumers. story continues..
It has been about half a decade now that I've been pointing out that most of the meters used by ISPs to track and bill consumers for usage aren't accurate. Customers of Canadian cable operator Cogeco have long complained the company's meter is inaccurate when users can load it at all
, and every so often the meter simply goes mad -- like last Spring when the meter was horribly confused by leap year
While AT&T is promising that 250 million potential customers will be covered by the 4G technology by the end of the year, the company remains intentionally vague about U-Verse build out goals. AT&T recently announced a significant network expansion for both U-Verse and LTE, though as we noted at the time
the company used some flaky math to make the U-Verse portion of that expansion seem much larger than it actually is.
Both AT&T and Verizon are currently hanging up on tens of millions of DSL and copper POTS customers they don't want to upgrade, letting them either flee to cable competitors, or to their pricier and heavily capped LTE services. To achieve this dream however, the companies have to entirely dismantle the regulations overseeing most of these networks -- networks built with the help of tens-of-billions in taxpayer dollars and several generations of massive
tax breaks (quite often with few results to show for them
AT&T told CES attendees this week that the company will soon be offering their AT&T Digital Life home security and automation service in eight unspecified markets starting in March. According to the AT&T press release
, the all-digital, all wireless service allows users to manage home lighting and home security from any mobile device, be it a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Netflix has once again ranked the best ISPs for streaming content. According to this Netflix blog post
, the company's rankings come from 30 million members viewing over 1 billion hours of Netflix each month.
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