Finally. Finally I have an answer about why my “high speed” DSL service is anything but. But first, a bit of background. For those so inclined, the past article in this series, which, I fervently hope, will be soon ending:
Here is what has happened since the last article posted on 01-10-15:
01-15-15: Kevin Smith from the AT&T President’s office and I finally connected by phone, and his solution? To send a technician to verify what I’ve been telling him in multiple e-mails.
Of course, I knew that would accomplish nothing. A very competent technician has been here twice and I’ve chatted with him a third time as he worked at my neighbor’s home where the same trouble plagues them, and once more by phone. I’ve even called his direct supervisor. But, at least Smith was acknowledging–or potentially beginning to acknowledge–the problem.
01-16-15: Smith called back with interesting news. He cancelled the visit from a technician because he discovered what’s wrong: AT&T’s equipment is so outmoded, when too many people are simultaneously using DSL in my area, the speed drops dramatically. And the really bad news? There is no fix. It’s not going to get better.
So AT&T has been charging me–and everyone else in my area using the same equipment–for years, for service they knew I could never have. This is, of course, not Smith’s fault, and he is working to ensure I pay, from now on, what he called a “promotional” rate. Someone was supposed to call me about that during the week of 01-19/23-15, and Smith himself promised to call me during that week to sort things out as well.
Would it surprise any of you that have read this series to learn that no one called me, nor did Smith?
Would it further surprise anyone to learn that I have no other Internet alternatives where I live? I’m stuck with AT&T low speed DSL. Smith did mention that he would arrange to call me when AT&T’s “U-Verse,” which is apparently some sort of hyper high-speed Internet service, becomes available in my area, but of course, he had no idea when that might be.
This is somewhat surprising, gentle readers. I live only about six miles south of Ft. Worth. While some of the area surrounding my community is farm and ranch land, driving to and from Ft. Worth and surrounding areas one sees very little open land, and thousands upon thousands of homes and businesses. Why, we have four to six-lane highways, electricity, and indoor, running water! We even have toilet paper. It’s not as thought I live 100 miles in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I live on a quiet, suburban street, surrounded by new, modern homes. No picket fences, but green lawns, trees, dog poop, not a horse-drawn carriage to be seen. One would think we might have the infrastructure for the kind of low speed Internet service AT&T advertises as high speed Internet service. As John Belushi used to say: “but noooooooooooo!”
While this debacle has provided fodder for a series of articles I had not, in my wildest dreams, ever hoped or wanted to write, I really want this to be done as soon as possible. I had hoped to have actual high speed Internet service, but it now appears that’s not going to be possible, perhaps not in my lifetime.
Still, the other day I needed to send several photos to a colleague. They weren’t huge; they didn’t comprise gigabytes of data, but even sending a few, small, JPEG images was impossible. I had to send them via snail mail on a flash drive. Sigh.
So while I appreciate Smith’s offer to reduce my monthly bill for Internet service to an appropriately low level–and I hope to actually hear from AT&T and Smith about that issue some day–there is more that must be addressed.
For more than a decade, if memory serves, AT&T has been selling me high-speed Internet service that never was. Because I had nothing with which to compare it, with the exception of dial-up service that was much, much slower, I just thought it was a particularly buggy product. Over the years, I experienced frequent outages, long periods of slow service and other glitches, but I didn’t know enough to know this was because the equipment AT&T was using to provide the service was fundamentally inadequate to the task.
In recent months, the problem has become acute, because AT&T, knowing it was selling a product it didn’t have, kept selling it and kept collecting money. As my community grew–as it continues to rapidly grow–the problem got worse and worse. The more people that used the service, the slower and more troubled it became.
If I were a cynical sort–wait a minute: I am a cynical sort!–I might consider this to be fraud and file a formal complaint with the Public Utilities Commission. But “fraud” is a harsh word, and for the moment, I’m going to e-mail Mr. Kevin Smith of the office of the President of AT&T and ask, nicely, that AT&T reimburse me in full for the service for which I have, for many years, paid but never received. Since AT&T sold me that service knowing it could never live up to its promise–what’s that business word…contract? Yes, contract; that’s it–that seems only reasonable and fair.
I don’t think anyone was malicious about this. Surely, Kevin Smith and the helpful and earnest technicians with whom I’ve dealt have not knowingly defrauded me or anyone. They work for a huge corporation and didn’t know what was happening until they were motivated to dig into the problem. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been paying, and a considerable amount over many years, for a service I’ve never received.
And as long as AT&T actually does lower my future monthly bills to reflect Internet service only somewhat better than dial up, I’ll have to be satisfied, having no other alternatives.
What do you think, gentle readers? I’ll keep you informed.