AT&T Takes Fisk & Qulin For A Ride!
When AT&T first came out with DSL in our area back in 2001, they were required by the Federal Government to offer wholesale agreements to Internet Service Providers (ISP) like semo.net. We bought the copper-connection from the customer’s home back to our building where we would connect the customer to the Internet and support them when they had problems. We’ve offered DSL service through SBC and AT&T since day 1.
Several months ago, we heard that AT&T was expanding their DSL coverage into Fisk and Qulin. We have several hundred customers who are using dial-up in those areas because there was no other broadband option. In December, we started getting calls from customers about switching to DSL asking “can you do DSL here or do we have to switch to AT&T?”
We in turn continued to ask our AT&T agents and representatives why the tools we have to pre-qualify customers for DSL were not working in these areas. For months we received “I’m not sure why the system isn’t allowing you to sign up customers in Fisk” type of answers.
You might wonder why AT&T was ever forced to wholesale DSL in the first place. The government protected AT&T and the Bell’s for almost a hundred years by granting them a monopoly on copper to the home and subsidizing it with tax dollars. In other words, the PEOPLE of the United States owned the copper not Bell and AT&T. In 1996 the “Bells” were forced to open the network up to competitors by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This was the reason for our ability to wholesale.
But in 2006 and after billions of dollars spent lobbying, the FCC ruled that AT&T would not be required to wholesale on new deployments. However, through the channels AT&T continued to tell the ISPs…just because we don’t have wholesale to you doesn’t mean we won’t!
We continued to press AT&T because we had customers waiting to get online. Last week we received the following statement from AT&T:
AT&T will continue to make wholesale ADSL transport available to its ISP customers as required by commercial agreements and regulatory commitments. In some geographic areas, AT&T is deploying network technologies that differ from the network technologies associated with the transport product that ISPs purchase on a wholesale basis. While AT&T may use different network technologies to provide retail Internet access service to end users, wholesale Internet transport products are not available across all networks/technologies.
In other words, AT&T will not allow us to resell DSL in Fisk and Qulin.
Here’s a good question: What is the first thing that happens when there’s no competition?
Answer: The customer pays more.
Note the price of DSL service in Fisk – $35/month with a 1 year contract. DSL in Poplar Bluff is $22.95/month with a 1 year contract and $25/month without a contract.
Don’t get me wrong, they have every right to do this. My biggest frustration is that AT&T wouldn’t own up to the truth until months later when the “right” thing to do was to let us know prior to deploying the service.
If I lived in Fisk, I’d pay $35 in a heartbeat, but the fact that it costs $10 more and you must sign a contract is precisely because they are not being forced to wholesale. AT&T claims the increased cost is due to the extension of their network. But that’s hogwash…the increased cost is because they have no competition.
For our customers in Fisk and Qulin, we have appreciated your patronage over the years. Broadband Internet is a wonderful tool for your business or home and I certainly expect you to switch whenever it is available to you: Even I would choose AT&T DSL over semo.net dialup any day…and every day. :)
My company will work to make the process easy and simple. If you want to keep your email address, then we can provide that for a few dollars a month. Just keep us in mind, because over the next year our wireless network is growing…and we hope to drive down the cost of broadband in your neck of the woods with a little thing we like to call “Competition!”