News tagged: AT&T Southwest
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
AT&T has announced that the company's 1 Gbps "Gigapower" U-Verse offering will be made available to more Austin residents than AT&T originally projected. AT&T's press statement
indicates that sales of the company's faster service has "exceeded expectations," and as a result AT&T "plans to expand the all-fiber network to reach twice as many Austin area households in 2014."
The company is currently offering these users 300 Mbps speeds, but insists they'll be upgraded to 1 Gbps sometime this year.
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.
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.
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.
While AT&T took the cheaper route when upgrading portions of their network to fiber to the node, the company has historically offered fiber to the home to a few locations (less than a few hundred thousand), primarily in upscale housing developments. While those lines are capable of significantly higher speeds, AT&T has traditionally capped those users at the same speed as other U-Verse users. story continues..
In the apparent hopes of reducing the PR impact of today's Google Fiber in Austin announcement
, AT&T has decided their best tactic is to play a little make believe. In traditional AT&T fashion, a company press release
picks its words very carefully, insisting that AT&T is "prepared" to offer "an advanced fiber optic infrastructure" capable of 1 Gbps, which is like totally
the same thing as offering 1 Gbps residential lines for $70 a month, right?
Like Time Warner Cable
, AT&T's press release very much wants the press and public to conflate their ability to offer 1 Gbps over the core network (and to businesses for a small fortune) with offering 1 Gbps lines inexpensively to consumers and businesses alike.
Back in May of 2011 we were the first to exclusively report
that AT&T would be imposing usage caps on the company's DSL and U-Verse users. Users were told DSL users would see a cap of 150 GB a month and U-Verse users would see a cap of 250 GB a month -- with both sets of users paying $10 for every additional 50 GB of data they use.
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.
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