How We’re Penalized for AT&T’s Missed Opportunity

In 1993, AT&T had the vision to promote how they would create the future via a TV advertising campaign.

However, once AT&T collapsed into the corporate grip of Texas-based Southwestern Bell (aka SBC Global), they didn’t deliver. Companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Skype and Netflix did. In Benoit Felten’s recent post on, he writes:

“What’s really interesting to me is that if you project back, it took a fair bit of vision to actually anticipate some of these changes, and if you look closely, every single one of them came true. What’s even more interesting to me is that AT&T (or more generally telcos) have virtually no stake in any of those. …

“… So why couldn’t they? My guess is because of vertical integration. These services, for the most part, needed an open network to access a broad market, and that’s the one thing that the internet brought to us not because of telcos role but despite telcos resistence and reluctance. This (to me) is a great way to drive home the point that the incumbent’s push to end openness in the name of control (and perceived revenue) is not only misguided, it’s suicidal.”

Because they missed the opportunity, AT&T now decides how much Internet content customers can consume, even though they don’t have a television component (true U-verse) here locally as an alternative. Spiral now has DSL customers who switched from AT&T because they were being charged $10 to $20 extra per month for Internet access.

Barbara Winn, an AT&T regional rep, recently spoke at a Gold Country Broadband Consortium presentation and said, “AT&T didn’t go after Federal stimulus funds because our annual budget for deployment was bigger than the whole sum of money available.” What she didn’t say was that the Federal stimulus funds required that the recipients maintain an open access network. That is the real reason AT&T, and the cable companies too, did not apply for funding.

AT&T’s legacy copper network is closed and becoming woefully insufficient, as we are starting to see in some areas here where DSL Internet service is no longer available. Comcast, for one, is making a case before the FCC that they own a private network, so they should be able to throttle content delivery, especially if it is not theirs.

The future is showing up in the build-out of 100% fiber optic networks in cities such as Kansas City KS & MO where Google is launching its project, plus Chattanooga TN and  Lafayette LA. Municipalities, rural telephone companies and independent Internet Service Providers are leading the way in next-generation networks. In June, Spiral hosted ten community meetings in western Nevada County;  talking about the opportunity for a 100% fiber optic network here. Our future is, indeed, bright.

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2 comments to How We’re Penalized for AT&T’s Missed Opportunity

  • I was able to confirm that AT&T provides broadband access at the entry point to our 40+ Willaura Acres properties, yet we do not have access to high speed internet other than very slow and expensive verizon wifi.

    We need internet access for our school aged children, home based business and telecommunters. If anyone reads this, can you please call me to discuss how we can encourage AT&T to provide us with internet access.

    Thank you. Bill Jacobson 530.268.7367

  • Please give the Spiral Internet office a call at 478-9822 , and we can give you an overview of what might be available at your home now, and in the future as our fiber optic project continues to be built.

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