Why is one bandwidth-hungry town building its own 1Gbps fiber network for its citizens when AT&T already offers them 6Mbps DSL? That’s the question AT&T would like to ask city leaders in Chanute, Kansas, a small town of roughly 9,000 people that is petitioning the state to allow it to offer greater access to the high-speed fiber network that it built to support town utility operations.
Starting this post I will admit that I spent a very large chunk of my time in the corporate world with AT&T. They currently provide me with a pension that helps enable me to live happy, wild, and free in my retirement years. I certainly am thankful to them for that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize them where criticism is necessary.
AT&T, like most monolith corporations, is mainly about picking the lower hanging fruit to maximize their profits. If there ever was, and I think there was, a time when what is good for the public was any significant part of the decision making it has long passed. When AT&T was a regulated monopoly they lived the concept of “universal service” which meant that everyone has a right to the same quality of telecommunication service. So, even though it was not as profitable AT&T was obligated to provide service to smaller communities. Of course when deregulation occurred during the Reagan years universal service fell by the wayside.
Getting back to the point here AT&T is introducing 1 Gps fiberoptic service in their most lucrative markets while at the same time doing very little to help other areas where improving the infrastructure might bite into profits. This is probably the case for the particular quote above.
6 Mpbs was a few years ago considered a blazing speed but not so much today. Streaming video and other such services coming on line demand more and more speed and bandwidth. Without some government regulations we are quickly approaching a have/have not condition for access to information in the country.
I personally am stuck with a 1 – 2.5 Mpbs line that comes and goes several times on a daily basis. That means they are currently introducting speeds one-thousand time faster than they provide me. That is because I am near the limit on the distance from the AT&T central office for their copper wire network. Everyone north of me and in the rest of the county in general is limited to a 0.056 Mpbs speed and that is now unusable for almost any kind of internet action.
So, when I read the article above I thought “good for you Chanute, Kansas”. If the FCC won’t require AT&T and others like them to provide workable Internet connects then they should be able to bypass the current infrastructure and build their own. That idea doesn’t help me, or my neighbors to the north, much as we are the third poorest county in Indiana and barely have the money to patch any potholes let along string some fiberoptic lines in our area. Sadly this is just another case of the “have vs the have-not” which is quickly becoming the norm in the American Aristocracy…