AT&T is now lobbying against proposals to directly subsidize fiber-to-the-home deployment for US citizens. The argument says that rural people don't really need fiber and should just be satisfied with internet speeds of 10 Mbps upload speeds.
AT&T definition of 21st century broadband
Joan Marsh, the AT&T Executive VP detailed the complete stance of the company last week, in a blog post that was even titled "Defining Broadband for the 21st Century."
The blog showed that the company's preferred definition of 21st-century broadband could be done with wireless technology or the 14-year-old VDSL systems that AT&T uses to bring fiber to neighborhoods but still uses the copper telephone wires to make the final connections to every home, according to the story by Ars Technica.
AT&T even pointed out that "overbuilding" areas that they say already have acceptable speeds would then devalue private investment and even "waste broadband-directed dollars." AT&T calls "overbuilding" what the industry calls "broadband competition" where one ISP building will be built despite another ISP in the area for them to compete for cheaper prices.
The blog post was released just two weeks after the current administration proposed redefining "21st century high-speed broadband" to 100Mbps upstream and downstream. The subsidized deployment of symmetrical 100Mbps speeds would allow other ISPs to bring better internet connection to places that AT&T still uses their old phone lines.
AT&T has a record of going against increases in broadband-speed benchmark for years and years. In 2014, the company urged the FCC to retain the standard 4Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speed. They claimed 10Mbps would exceed the needs of Americans. The FCC was still able to raise the standard to 25Mbps and 3Mbps back in January of 2015.
AT&T accused of overcharging schools in need
According to DallasNews, an ex-lawyer for AT&T Theodore Marcus came to believe that AT&T did not actually charge the low prices that the law required and even misled the government regarding the company's compliance with the rules. A few months before he ultimately decided to leave AT&T, he reportedly handed the damning information to a lawyer suing the company.
AT&T then accused Marcus of "shocking" legal misconduct trying to dismiss the sweeping lawsuit. Marcus says AT&T is abusing a government program that was designed to help needy schools. For about two decades, even when Marcus was still working for AT&T, the program actually turned away schools due to lack of funding to cover all of their requests.
Back in 2015, the government even doubled the entire fund to a whopping $4 billion a year to reimburse all of their eligible applicants. In 2020, the total E-Rate subsidies covered a whopping $2.9 billion in Internet costs for over 21,000 libraries and schools. If Marcus' allegations prove to be true, the company deprived hundreds of school districts of millions of dollars they could have actually used for education expenses.
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Written by Urian Buenconsejo