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AT&T The Internet

AT&T's Gigabit Smokescreen 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-buy-the-cow-when-you-can-pretend-you-have-a-cow dept.
Yesterday AT&T announced it would examine 100 cities and municipalities in the U.S., including 21 metropolitan areas, for introduction of gigabit fiber. Taken on its face, the announcement is the company's response to Google Fiber. But many were quick to note AT&T has promised nothing. Karl Bode at DSLReports went so far as to call AT&T's announcement a giant bluff. "Ever since Google Fiber came on the scene, AT&T's response has been highly theatrical in nature. What AT&T would have the press and public believe is that they're engaged in a massive new deployment of fiber to the home service. What's actually happening is that AT&T is upgrading a few high-end developments where fiber was already in the ground (these users were previously capped at DSL speeds) and pretending it's a serious expansion of fixed-line broadband. It's not. At the same time AT&T is promising a massive expansion in fixed line broadband, they're telling investors they aren't spending much money on the initiative, because they aren't. AT&T's focus is on more profitable wireless. 'Gigapower' is a show pony designed to help the company pretend they're not being outmaneuvered in their core business by a search engine company."
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AT&T's Gigabit Smokescreen

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  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:48PM (#46816683) Homepage
    If you expect me to believe this articles summary, that the worlds largest telecommunications monopoly and government spy against American citizens is lying about their services or speeds, then you clearly dont underst42t2$T%Y%[NO CARRIER]
    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:53PM (#46817243)
      AT&T's new ad motto: "You want more fiber? Eat cabbage!"
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        So that's what the smell is.

      • by anubi (640541)
        I thought AT&T's whole marketing plan was based on the magic words "up-to [dream] for only $[price]* ".

        Those magic words "up-to" make great talking points for the advertising people's sales pitches without committing the company to a thing, while at the same time obligating anyone who drinks their kool-aid to pay at least [price] and *likely more.

        It seems every time I see those words "up-to" I think its "AT&T calling"
    • by beernutz (16190)

      The funny thing is that fewer and fewer people will get the [NO CARRIER] reference.

      Kind of like the save icon still being a floppy disk in a lot of programs. I wonder how many younger computer users have never even SEEN a floppy.

  • by DMJC (682799) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:49PM (#46816691)
    I applaud Google for actually fixing the problem in the USA. It serves AT&T and the other telco companies in America right, for taking $200 billion of government money and delivering nothing for it.
    • by Andrio (2580551)

      Since Google seems to be the only one serious about rolling out fiber (and high quality broadband at a reasonable price), I have a great idea. How about if the government took all the tax breaks/subsidies that are currently given to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc and give them to Google instead?

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Since Google seems to be the only one serious about rolling out fiber

        Hey, what about Verizon FiOS? I got fiber to my house and get as good of service as you can expect from Verizon....

        (and high quality broadband at a reasonable price)

        So you had to bring up the price thing eh? Ok.. Ok.. You win... Verizon is VERY pricy for just internet.... Here's hoping for some price competition or something...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dloyer (547728)

          Verizon Fios works great... As long as you dont want to watch Netflix...

          If you actually want to make use of all those megabits you bought, then well...

          Our Netflix has been rebuffing more and more, even with a direct wired connection between the player and the router.

          • by bobbied (2522392)

            Verizon Fios works great... As long as you dont want to watch Netflix...

            If you actually want to make use of all those megabits you bought, then well...

            Our Netflix has been rebuffing more and more, even with a direct wired connection between the player and the router.

            I hear you, but over the last few weeks it seems to be getting a lot better, at least for me. Buffering has not completely stopped, but it went from every 10 seconds down to less than once every 50 min show. Didn't I hear that Netflix agreed to pay Verizon for better connectivity?

          • by crtreece (59298) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @03:22PM (#46817497) Homepage
            Have you tried routing your traffic through a VPN? I hear Netflix works a lot better when your ISP isn't able to identify and throttle their traffic.
            • VPNs have typically much larger latency, depending on their locale. You can tunnel packets, but remember that you're dragging them not from your local CDN, but rather, through a non-deterministic path through the vector host's network. Often this is not faster, and is not throttled,and lacks any QoS of any kind.

              What you hear is anecdotal and probably not the typical case. But this is actually Southwestern Bell we're talking about-- the old AT&T is long dead, and SWBell just likes to posture like the old

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            Again, it must depend on the area. Wife has an (older) Roku downstairs, and daughter has a blu-ray player with netflix upstairs, and they can stream simultaneously with no issues. The only time this is not true is if I'm downloading something massive.

        • by danlip (737336)

          as good of service as you can expect from Verizon...

          My expectations are extremely low for Verizon

          • by bobbied (2522392) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @04:09PM (#46817933)

            They are worlds better than the Cable company.... I used to be down for days with the cable provider because somebody on my block insisted on handing out DHCP addresses for some reason. Their tech support guys couldn't seem to figure out who it was. I finally got tired of them and jumped on FiOS when it first came out.

            My connection has been rock solid since. I've had maybe 3 outages that where not my fault in 8 years, and two of those where because of the cheap router the provided was too unstable. I just went and got my own hardware and ditched that horrible Actiontec junk.

            However, they are the absolute most expensive for the bandwidth you get. They filter/firewall residential DHCP service to keep you from running servers (http, https, ftp etc) but they don't tell you this directly. Also, they have pretty crappy traffic management so even though I pay for 25/25Mbps connection, I can pretty much count on only getting that when speed checking on their servers. Any real traffic can never approach that, even in aggregate.

            So I don't recommend Verizon very highly either. Even if it is the lesser of the various evils available to me.

            • by iamgnat (1015755)

              They filter/firewall residential DHCP service to keep you from running servers (http, https, ftp etc) but they don't tell you this directly.

              The only port I've found blocked is SMTP. I ran servers on 22, 80, and 443 plus others for a long time before I just got tired of my logs filling up with people trying to break in. I still run the servers but just moved them all to different ports to cut down the noise.

              Also, they have pretty crappy traffic management so even though I pay for 25/25Mbps connection, I can pretty much count on only getting that when speed checking on their servers. Any real traffic can never approach that, even in aggregate.

              No problems there either. I frequently actually get higher rates than I'm actually paying for and have been seeing that on all the various plans I've had over the years. I'll see sustained rates (30+ seconds) about 2-5Mb higher than my "limit

        • Hey, what about Verizon FiOS? I got fiber to my house and get as good of service as you can expect from Verizon....

          And how's your Netflix streaming?

          • by bobbied (2522392)

            Hey, what about Verizon FiOS? I got fiber to my house and get as good of service as you can expect from Verizon....

            And how's your Netflix streaming?

            Getting better over the last few weeks... Still has issues during peak usage though.

      • Google doesn't need tax breaks, they just need municipalities to cut through the red tape that has the habit of ending up in brown paper bags full of cash to regulators. The big telecoms need those tax breaks to fill brown paper bags full of cash that are sent right back to the army of "consultants" that grease the wheels of government and of politicians.
    • by alen (225700)

      google is looking at a few tiny markets and geeks are creaming their shorts about it

      wake me when google sells $100 BILLION worth of bonds for something like a national roll out to 20 million homes

      all you idiot google fans dreaming of google fiber will be doing so way after you die. for now google fiber is more vaporware than FIOS

      • by bored (40072)

        Yah, if they were serious about providing service to a lot of people they would have bid on time warner cable, then promptly shipped everyone a 8 channel DOCSIS 3 modem (343.04 Mbits) and started upgrading their peering agreements. Then in a couple years shipped the 24 channel modems (1Gbit) that are on the horizon.

        Instant 11 million happy customers.

        Then after that sold/spun off the timewarner division off to someone else for close to what they paid for it.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:58PM (#46817281)

      Google is only offering Fiber in High density Urban areas. Most of the customers in those areas already had access to 15mb > service. The problem is the other 99.9% of the country that lives in areas that are less dense and therefor incredibly expensive to serve.

      AT&T is currently trying to sell off as much of these low-density customers as possible because the regulations over telecoms make them far less profitable than what the unregulated cable providers offer. They're also lobbying to get themselves unregulated, which may seem fair at first, but when you realize that large portions of the country would quickly lose phone service it doesn't seem that fair at all.

      Not that I'll defend AT&T. They suck for more reasons than just this. But telecoms in general are definitely in a hard place right now due to unregulated competitors like Google and the Cable providers. Force Google to provide phone service to everyone in that particular territory like the telecom is and you'll see googles rates shoot up to about the same place AT&T is at right now.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @03:56PM (#46817809)

        Google is only offering Fiber in High density Urban areas. Most of the customers in those areas already had access to 15mb > service. The problem is the other 99.9% of the country that lives in areas that are less dense and therefor incredibly expensive to serve.

        If you're going to bash a legitimate attempt to introduce a modicum of competition to US broadband, you should at least use credible numbers. By concentrating on urbanized areas, Google is ignoring almost 20% of the country.

        If you want to live 20 miles from the nearest intersection, low bandwidth may be one of the sacrifices you have to make.

        • Google is only offering Fiber in High density Urban areas. Most of the customers in those areas already had access to 15mb > service. The problem is the other 99.9% of the country that lives in areas that are less dense and therefor incredibly expensive to serve.

          If you're going to bash a legitimate attempt to introduce a modicum of competition to US broadband, you should at least use credible numbers. By concentrating on urbanized areas, Google is ignoring almost 20% of the country.

          If you want to live 20 miles from the nearest intersection, low bandwidth may be one of the sacrifices you have to make.

          Um... Google is serving a few thousand customers at most right now. That's well under 0.1% of the country.

          And we're not talking about "20 miles from the nearest intersection" The equipment that provides you with internet all costs the same. It's irrelevant where you live, or what you are paying for. Laying Fiberoptic or copper costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per mile, interruption of peoples lives and property and is generally a nightmare. This doesn't even account for the equipment in the actual rem

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          If you live in a small town of 10,000 you may be considered too small for good broadband even if you stand in the middle of the intersection.

      • Eh. I think it's quite legitimate to give you crud for that "other 99.9%" thing. Americans seem to think that the Urban/Rural divide is an even split. It's not. Most people live in high density urban areas these days.

        Further, I think google could provide phone service via it's network and not blink an eye. Why would rates shoot up for moving data on a data network?

        Phone companies are EVIL. But yes, at least they're regulated. At least they're not cable companies. :D

    • by NotDrWho (3543773)

      IIRC, Google has so far only rolled out fiber in cities that already had "dark fiber" in place to begin with. Their deployment so far has been every bit as much a dog-and-pony show as AT&T and Verizon.

  • by number6x (626555) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @01:57PM (#46816757)

    AT&T has already been given Billions of dollars in tax incentives [techdirt.com] to deliver fiber optic cable based internet to your house.

    According to the incentive plans these high speed internet connections should already be installed and functioning for pretty much every American at speeds averaging 45 Mbps upload and download. Every American taxpayer, that is not a provider of internet infrastructure, has taken on the burden of $2000.00 more in taxes in order to offset the incentives gives to AT&T and the baby bells.

    Do you have your low cost, high speed fiber yet?

    • That $2000 number was as of 2006. It's 2014 now.

      • by denobug (753200)

        That $2000 number was as of 2006. It's 2014 now.

        Then AT&T should have acted in 2006 instead of waiting this long. They are perfectly capable to make a sound business decision to lose money.

    • by ausekilis (1513635) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:53PM (#46817239)

      I know someone that recently moved to Austin. On the side of their house is a little box that says "AT&T Fiber". When they called AT&T to ask about internet service: "I'm sorry, we don't have service in your area".

      I guess it could be fast if they knew where there infrastructure was in the first place...

      • by ATMAvatar (648864)

        I'm not so sure that it's that AT&T doesn't know the fiber is there. They just do not offer fiber services currently. It's the same story here in Kansas City. I can see plenty of orange fiber markers along some of the major streets, but the service is not offered.

        It's quite possible that AT&T is going to roll out fiber service, and it won't cost much: in some areas, they merely have to switch on the lines already in place.

    • Yep (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My ISP is Federated Telephone [fedtel.net]. Small little rural cooperative in Chokio (pop. 400) & Morris (pop. 5,000), MN. They had 100% FTTP rollout [fedtel.net] to Chokio back in 2009, and they're finishing their rollout here in Morris. They're now working on Appleton, MN.

      If they can do it, anyone can. You just have to stop putting profits before customers. And as the parent poster indicated, they also did it with a disproportionate amount of tax dollars going to mega-corporations that only support urban development. Enc [saveruralbroadband.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Charliemopps (1157495)

      You've linked to a poor source that gets its data from even worse sources.
      AT&T is only worth $189 billion as of today. So what did they do with that $200 billion they supposedly got? Set it on fire? I dislike AT&T as much as the next guy, but let not create flat out lies.

      • The market cap of the company is $189B. That's the stock price times number of outstanding shares (not considering fully diluted share count). It is not related to income or cash+assets on hand. The stock price is a reflection of those items by the market, but is not directly related.

        The $200B figure was treated on the balance sheet over time as income or some other accounting item which you'll need to analyze the 10-K to find out for each year. Those dollars were then saved or paid out as dividends to s

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        AT&T is only worth $189 billion as of today. So what did they do with that $200 billion they supposedly got?

        The "AT&T" whose stock you are looking at now didn't exist in the same form when these subsidies were handed out. SBC and the other bells used the savings from those billions in tax subsidies starting in the 90's and went on an acquisition spree, culminating in AT&T and SBC's merger in 2005 [att.com].

        TL;DR: they gave it to shareholders of Pacific Telesis, Ameritech, New England Telecom, TCI, Media

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @03:05PM (#46817345)

      AT&T was given billions of dollars to deliver broadband based on at least one leg of fiber to at least one home in each census tract in the subsidized area.

      My census tract has ONE subdivision where AT&T vDSL is available (DSL from a fiber-fed, single-shelf, 4-card VRAD hosting 192 homes), yet AT&T is legally allowed to shade in the entire census tract (over 2000 homes) on the map and tell government that "this census tract has fiber coverage per our agreement."

      The only reason 192 homes have access is because that maximizes revenue for the smallest VRAD they install on the lowest-provision fiber feed.

  • Smokescreen? I could be wrong but doesn't AT&T already own a lot of that cable that comes to a lot of houses right now? It seems to me like that would be the biggest hurdle in regards to rolling something like that.
  • Favourite quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:00PM (#46816779)

    My favourite quote comes from Karl Bode of DSLReports [dslreports.com]:

    Before you get too excited, you need to understand that this is a bluff of immense proportion. It's what I affectionately refer to as "fiber to the press release."

  • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:05PM (#46816817)

    As I read ATT's announcement, they've committed to four cities and are in discussions with twenty one more.

    The response seems to be "They haven't committed to spending any money this year in those twenty one cities, this is clearly bogus!". Geez, don't they have anything important to write about?

  • Google just has a few demo locations - parts of Kansas City, and parts of Provo, Utah. That's all. They're talking about other cities, but it's just talk. All they've done are a few places where it was easy.

    • by Jaysu (952981)
      They are currently working on Atlanta. So there's that.
    • by Mabonus (185893)

      Google is only in a few locations - but the locations they announce they follow through on in a reasonably transparent fashion. They announced KC, then the neighborhoods, then the signups, and now they're connected and committed. They've also expanded into surrounding municipalities not initially included in the announcement. Google may not seriously expand into the ISP business but from where I sit in a connected home it's tough to call it a demo location. Basically, I trust Google's proven history and

      • Yeah, it's worth comparing to Verizon's grand FIOS rollout, too. Nine years ago, I was a Verizon land-line customer in a major metropolitan region, thrilled at the prospect of getting FIOS soon. Five years later, Verizon had sold off their land-line business, and FIOS to anywhere in my state was "not in the foreseeable future". Still not foreseeable, as far as I can tell.

        I'm sure they're still making great progress with the anti-municipal-broadband lobbying, though.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)

      Its not talk, I just saw a speedtest for google fiber, where is a speedtest for ATT fiber?

  • Remember when they were going to put a video phone in every house?... this was in the early nineties. They had this big push about the future... how local bar's jukebox would have every song EVER.

    Well, it happened. But it happened in spite of them not with their help. They didn't bring it to us.

    But they keep pretending like that's what they do... when they don't.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You have to remember that AT&T isn't AT&T, it's Southern Bell. SB bought out the old AT&T and adopted their trademark because it wasn't then quite as sullied as their own. (Not that AT&T even then was anything like the company it was back in the day.)

    • Here you go:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      this is nothing new from ATT... they talk a big game.

    • Re:Att does that (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sjames (1099) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @03:41PM (#46817691) Homepage

      They've been promising that one since the '70s. The closest they ever got was offering ISDN (in limited areas) for an arm and a leg that might one day be capable of carrying video (at 128Kbps max).

      The accoustic modem was invented as an end run around them because they refused to allow anything to be connected to the phone line that they didn't approve, and they weren't approving modems. The modem itself was an end run around their refusal to offer data lines.

      We've been sneaking the future past their gatekeeper for 50 years.

  • by _RiZ_ (26333) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:49PM (#46817201) Homepage
    I live in Austin and can order "Giga" power currently with a current top speed of 300/300. Its been available in my neighborhood, a recent development in an established area, for a few months, but I haven't ordered. They have a 1TB download cap per month and in the $70.00 variant, they are using deep packet inspection in order to send targeted ads towards you. They have a more expensive option, $99.00 a month + install, where they don't examine your packets, but they have already lost me. I am sure Google will also utilize deep packet inspection and for some reason, I trust them more. I have TWC currently with a 50/5 plan that is supposed to be upgraded this summer with no additional costs. They haven't announced speeds yet but Im guessing they are going to be close in nature. Good to see competition working in the ATX.
    • by crtreece (59298)
      Simple answer to their unreasonable inspection of your data, Virtual Private Network. Route your entire connection through a VPN, and let them try their deep packet inspection on that link.
    • by trampel (464001)

      Austinite here as well.

      What really pissed me off was that the deep packet inspection requirement is very well hidden on their webpage and promotional material. They only mention that the offer comes with "internet options" (!), and it takes you several clicks to discover what this implies.

      While $70 + $5 for a VPN service is pretty competitive pricing, I really don't feel like giving them my money.

  • He said that no one would install new services in a neighborhood that required digging up buried wires. My whole neighborhood has underground utilities, so he suggested that we pay to have fiber installed in our neighborhood and work a deal out with ATT. I don't think we will be getting it any time soon. However, because of Google and ATT here in Austin, TWC has announced (but not yet delivered) 300Mbps service, so competition does seem to be working.
  • by scoticus (1303689) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @02:56PM (#46817265)
    So what if they got fiber to everyone, everywhere? They would still be a nightmare to deal with. Business class is a joke; slow speeds, charging the customer for an onsite visit to fix AT&T problems (assuming they don't just tell you to fix it yourself), about a dozen different phone numbers to pick from and a truly epic automated phone-tree when trying to get support, etc. Home service isn't much better. I had U-verse a couple of years ago when they first rolled it out to my neighborhood. 24mb down, 3mb up. Worked pretty well, except with streaming services. I eventually went back to the cable company (faster and cheaper). Last week, some AT&T sales reps knocked on my door, claiming they had just added new connection to my neighborhood. I asked, "U-verse?" They said yes. I told them I had that a couple of years ago and they looked totally stumped. They were not even aware that U-verse was already well established and that half of my complex already used it. Just for fun, I checked the website to see what upgrades they may have made. LOL, now the max U-verse speed in my neighborhood is *slower* than what I had previously. AT&T can promise whatever they want, but until I can see it, I will absolutely not believe it.
  • by slapout (93640) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @03:31PM (#46817591)

    Sounds like the way they responded to Verizon. When Verizon started bragging about their 3G coverage, AT&T started running commercials showing their own 2G coverage.

    • Not as bad as when Verizon started an LTE rollout and called it 4G (somewhat egregious) then AT&T simply renamed it's HSPA+ network 4G (very egregious) so it looked better when you compared "4G" coverage.
  • Why should we have to be paid to be spied on? The Gov is going to spy on us, give us free access. Someday we will all be required to carry Stalin's Dream (cell phones - for our own protection) and we will be required to pay for that also.
  • I remember reading in _Big Blues_ how IBM mainframes were throttled when first installed. That way, a tech could be sent into the locked room with the golden screwdriver and magically upgrade things to incredible speed. The customers didn't know that they had been using hobbled systems and were happily impressed that the thing was now so much faster. Sounds like the same trick AT&T is trying to pull.

    • by Dog-Cow (21281)

      With IBM, you paid (pay?) for performance. They don't hide the fact that their hardware is more capable than what you are getting, if you aren't paying for top tier performance.

  • While AT&T isn't pushing to run fiber to your home, they ARE pushing damned hard to get fiber to the businesses. Very, very hard. In fact, a huge chunk of money is being thrown at this project to have 10,000 plus sites access to Gigabit eth speeds. ( Officially it's known as Project VelocityIP ) Emphasis on BUSINESSES, not consumers.

    ALL companies offering bandwidth will always be selective in what markets they deploy into. It isn't profitable to run fiber to neighborhoods where the majority of thos
  • What pisses me most about AT&T U-verse is that they do have FTTU (fibre-to-the-user) / FTTP, but they limit FTTP users to speeds that are lower than what they offer through VDSL through FTTN.

    I used to live in San Jose, CA in 2010/2012, in a brand new apartment complex, had AT&T U-verse fibre strand terminated in my bedroom closet with an ONT. The line was FTTP-BPON (622/155 1:32), e.g. 622Mbps down / 155Mbps up, shared with at most 32 users, I checked with the manufacturer of my particular ONT.

    But

  • Wait until you catch up to the top level research universities of the world.

    Three 100 Gigabit/sec ports, and 40 Gigabit/sec campus-wide.

    Mind you, not everyone can use that kind of power.

    It's like an announcement that you guys have brand new shiny Vespas with 2nd gear and we're supersonic with fat pipes.

    (mind you, Vespas are really cool)

  • Why can't AT&T just buy Google?

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