AT&T buyer since 1960 buys WSJ print advert to complain of sluggish speeds

A snail resting on a computer mouse, to illustrate slow Internet service.

A person who has been an AT&T buyer since 1960 has a message for CEO John Stankey concerning the firm’s failure to improve DSL areas to fashionable Web service. Aaron Epstein, 90, is so pissed off by his 3Mbps Web plan that he took out a Wall Avenue Journal advert in right this moment’s print version so as to publish an open letter to Stankey.

“Expensive Mr. Stankey: AT&T prides itself as a pacesetter in digital communications. Sadly, for the individuals who reside in N. Hollywood, CA 91607, AT&T is now a serious disappointment,” Epstein wrote within the letter.

Epstein paid $1,100 to run the advert for someday within the Manhattan and Dallas editions of right this moment’s Journal, he informed Ars in a cellphone interview. He selected the Manhattan version to succeed in buyers who would possibly need to stress AT&T into upgrading its community and Dallas as a result of that is the place AT&T is headquartered, he stated.

“We have to sustain with present know-how and have appeared to AT&T to produce us with quick Web service,” Epstein wrote within the open letter to AT&T’s CEO. “But, though AT&T is promoting speeds as much as 100Mbps for different neighborhoods, the quickest now obtainable to us from AT&T is just 3Mbps. Your rivals now have speeds of over 200Mbps. Why is AT&T, a number one communications firm, treating us so shabbily in North Hollywood?”

The digital model of The Wall Avenue Journal print version, obtainable on-line to subscribers, reveals that Epstein’s advert ran right this moment on web page A7 and took up the underside left quarter of the web page. We first realized of Epstein’s advert when a Twitter person posted an image of the print version:

Out of date DSL

Plugging Epstein’s deal with into AT&T’s Web-availability checker leads to a message saying that “high-speed Web is not obtainable at your deal with.” This possible implies that it is in one of many areas the place AT&T is discontinuing DSL service regardless of its failure to improve the areas to fiber-to-the-home or fiber-to-the-node. Present customers are supposed to have the ability to hold their DSL service in these locations, however AT&T is not accepting new clients.

“I get very aggravated as a result of, periodically, I get snail mail and periodically I see advertisements on TV and advertisements on the Web providing the sooner service [from AT&T],” Epstein informed Ars. However each time Epstein calls AT&T about getting sooner speeds, a customer support rep says the corporate is engaged on it however can’t present a date for when it will likely be obtainable, he stated.

Epstein stated his “3Mbps” service typically supplies simply 1.5Mbps when he checks the pace. The sluggish speeds give him hassle with on-line streaming on his Roku system. “It’s totally irritating as a result of now all of us use streaming providers… generally the films are completely clean and quick, and different occasions it is too irritating and I do not use it in any respect,” he stated.

AT&T shouldn’t be Epstein’s solely choice for wired Web service. Actually, he stated he pays for each Constitution Spectrum’s cable Web and AT&T DSL at residence however typically solely makes use of AT&T Web as a result of, he stated, “so as to get cellphone service, I’ve to make use of the AT&T modem.” He famous {that a} technician might in all probability set issues up in order that he might use AT&T cellphone service and Constitution Web. However with the pandemic persevering with, Epstein stated that he and his spouse are enjoying it protected by not having any guests in the home.

AT&T neglect helps cable ISPs dominate

Whereas having each Constitution cable and AT&T DSL obtainable is a greater state of affairs than dwelling in DSL-only territory, AT&T’s abandonment of many DSL areas helps cable corporations solidify their regional dominance and keep away from competitors. Comcast and Constitution, the 2 largest US cable corporations, do not compete towards one another in particular person cities and cities. For tens of thousands and thousands of People, the only broadband option with fashionable speeds is both Constitution or Comcast.

There are 52.97 million households in AT&T’s 21-state wireline service space, and 14.93 million of them have fiber-to-the-home entry, the Communications Employees of America union recently told Ars. AT&T has nearly 5 million paying fiber-to-the-home clients and eight.7 million fiber-to-the-node clients. There are 407,000 paying DSL clients in areas the place AT&T is phasing out the legacy service, and that quantity has been dropping steadily every quarter.

AT&T has slowed down fiber-to-the-home building since finishing deployment obligations required by the merger situations of its 2015 buy of DirecTV. AT&T has dramatically decreased its workforce, from 273,210 staff in mid-2018 to 230,760 staff on the end of 2020. Whereas these cuts have affected extra than simply wireline community operations, they’ve resulted in fewer technicians obtainable for deploying fiber or sustaining the outdated DSL community.

Epstein stated he pays AT&T about $100 a month at residence for 2 cellphone traces and Web service and $49 a month to Constitution for cable Web. Epstein additionally pays AT&T for cellphone and Web service at a enterprise he owns in Sherman Oaks, however he stated the sluggish Web does not trouble him a lot within the workplace as a result of he makes use of it for primary duties like e mail and never for video streaming.

Epstein hadn’t acquired a response to his open letter from AT&T after we talked to him this morning.

When contacted by Ars, an AT&T spokesperson stated the corporate will attain out to Epstein to handle his issues. AT&T didn’t reply our particular questions, reminiscent of whether or not it is going to improve Web service at Epstein’s deal with or whether or not it recommends that clients like Epstein swap to Constitution. AT&T offered the next assertion: “We frequently improve and spend money on our wi-fi and wireline networks. We’ve invested greater than $3.1 billion in our Los Angeles-area networks from 2017-2019.”

Disclosure: The Advance/Newhouse Partnership, which owns 13 p.c of Constitution, is a part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica.

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