AT&T's degrading service and my landlord's ban on Comcast

Summary:With all the negative attention headed towards Comcast lately, AT&T's problems seem to be slipping below the radar.  Unfortunately for me, those problems are first hand for me as I'm personally suffering degradations in speed.

With all the negative attention headed towards Comcast lately, AT&T's problems seem to be slipping below the radar.  Unfortunately for me, those problems are first hand for me as I'm personally suffering degradations in speed.  As if getting 1200 Kbps downstream on a so-called 1500 Kbps service and all those outage problems (example here and here) weren't bad enough, my AT&T DSL service has declined.  I suppose I could count myself lucky compared to my Mom's neighbor who only got 320 Kbps service after AT&T unilaterally and without permission "upgraded" his bill to the 1500 Mbps service without upgrading his performance.  Seem my DSLReports.com speed tests below.

The results above were performed at the nearest locations to my home and they were performed on idle servers with barely anyone using them.  That pretty much confirms the problem is on AT&T's end and possibly on the last mile.  My Mother's so-called 768 Kbps service only delivered about 330 Kbps but after the AT&T fixed some wiring problems outside the house, the performance went up to about 600 Kbps. I'll have to call AT&T and see if they can do anything about my problems when I get back home.

It's gotten so bad with my service that I'm actually starting to yearn for some of those "evil" TCP resets from Comcast to grace my router.  Even more frustrating is that Comcast might actually be offering DOCSIS 3.0 with 15 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream in my area, but I live in one of these draconian housing complexes that force us to pay for bundled inferior analog cable service even though I don't use it.  The FCC has ruled against these types of exclusive contracts but I don't think that can overturn my current situation.  I think I'm finally motivated enough that I want to start a petition with the neighbors to demand the right to use Comcast.  I'll definitely have to bring this up the next time I go to Washington DC before Congress and the FCC.

Some people have told me that I should have looked at the contract before I moved in but it really isn't that simple.  There are about a thousand homes in the same multi dwelling unit and we don't have much of a choice on where we live when an old and small home in Silicon Valley is $650,000.  I do find it ironic that I'm now begging and fighting for the right to get Comcast service while others are fighting to kill Comcast.

This isn't to say that Comcast is always good and AT&T is always bad although I've always gotten much better service from Comcast when I actually had a choice between the two.  But it is so critical that we have competition between the two so that they have to fight for my business.  The way it stands now, AT&T pretty much knows that I have no other game in my area and they have zero incentive to deploy U-Verse in my neighborhood let alone fiber-to-the-node like Verizon's FiOS service.

What's even more frustrating is that this isn't a rural area problem since I'm in the heart of Silicon Valley with about 4000 homes jammed tight in a two block by two block neighborhood.  It would be a Verizon FiOS installer's dream deployment with homes packed so tightly together.  With my landlord out of the way, I'd have DOCSIS 3.0 15 Mbps service to choose from and AT&T would prioritize jumping in here with U-Verse service.  These are the real problems facing consumers today and not whether a few bandwidth hogs get throttled or not and I hope others will join me in a worthwhile cause.

Topics: Broadband, AT&T, Government, Government : US, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

About

George Ou, a former ZDNet blogger, is an IT consultant specializing in Servers, Microsoft, Cisco, Switches, Routers, Firewalls, IDS, VPN, Wireless LAN, Security, and IT infrastructure and architecture.

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