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

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 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, Government, Government US, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos, AT&T

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  • Something for a journalist to investigate

    ...or maybe you already know.

    Is it possible that your esteemed landlord is getting a discount/kickback for making AT&T the exclusive provider of broadband in your complex?
    John L. Ries
    • I don't doubt it at all

      I like what's going on with the FCC, but I don't think it can overturn the existing contract with the analog cable provider and the ban on Comcast that's in place.
  • I must say Mr. Ou I sympathize with you..

    You are well aware im NOT a proponet of Comcast in ANYWAY shape or form, from our previous conversations :) However, your landlords "ban" on Comcast (mainly i believe digital cable services) seems rather illegal. I would lobby your neighbors to put public pressure on them and even the local news...I live in a more rural area and I know the effects of NOT having competition first hand, and to be denied access to that competition...that REALLY has to hurt. If you are gonna have a provider that sucks, may as well have a choice between the "lesser" of two evils.
  • Is this a sentence?

    " The FCC has begun to rule again these types of bundling services but I don???t think that can overturn existing contracts. "

    I don't know WTF you are trying to say.
  • RE: AT

    AT&T wasn't always bad IMO. When SBC bought AT&T, that's when it became unbearable. SBC is used to pushing everyone around including politicians and I think they just need to get continually b-tch slapped until they finally file for bankruptcy. This company doesn't get along with anyone, including its own customers.

    Sorry about where you live dude. I think if you had a choice you would have picked somewhere that offers Comcast. I think for most IT-inclined people, it's a "must-have" for any new dwelling possibilities.
  • RE: AT

    I wouldnt wish Comcrap on my worst enemy..but if it ADDS to compeition..I guess it could work. Personally, if I have anything to say about it, I wont ever move to a Comcast served market (where they are the exclusive HSI provider) because they simply cannot be trusted to do right by their customers the way Cox Communications and a lot of other smaller HSI ISP's can.
  • Happening everywhere George

    The plain truth is that "broadband" customers are being added without providing more bandwidth infastructure to support it.
    • Also...

      Some providers are upping the bandwidth without actually bumping up the available bandwidth. I have several friends with Time Warner who are supposed to get 15 down, but are lucky to get 5 or 6 down during peak usage times. Even worse, their upstreams are virtually non-existent during the same timeframe. All of this coming from a server they had set up specifically for speed testing within the local area (I knew about the fact it was meant just for that TW division because I worked for them at the time).
    • Oh Really?

      I have 12mb up and downstream, I test it every month to see if I still have it...and yep, I do...

      Oh, that's right..I forgot that tin cans and twine are the norm in good old Missourah. ;)
    • This is actually a last-mile problem

      This is actually a last-mile problem and not a congestion problem.
  • Covad DSL option?

    Your situation really stinks. You don't say whether you've investigated Covad DSL options, but are there any available? I use Speakeasy 1.5/756 DSL.

    I don't like Comcast either, they've been raising my analog cable cost and reducing service by removing channels for years not. I'd switch to FIOS TV if they had more analog channels. Analog is good enough for me.

    Also had a FIOS sales rep talk to me while he was going door to door in my neighborhood. I explained that FIOS internet would cost too much: $100 or more for static IPs (I only use one, but can get another with my SE service) with the FIOS business service which would also eliminate the port filters on FIOS residential service. Plus $15-20 for an IMAP email service. The FIOS rep didn't understand.

    At least I have options, so I'm not so bad off. Good luck.

    David Strom
    (not the writer)
    • Those other services have to use the same ATT infrastructure on the last mi

      Those other services have to use the same ATT infrastructure on the last mile and that's where I'm having the problems. Those other services are also more expensive.
  • Unbiased typo correction -- no real comment

    Typo: 1200 Kbps downstream on a so-called 1500 Mbps service

    Correction: Either
    1200 Kbps and 1500 Kbps ... or ...
    1.2 Mbps and 1.5 Mbps

    (okay not to publish this comment -- just trying to help)
  • True, however...

    Those that oversell in the same manner (includes utilities, bus lines, public schools, amusement parks, and etc.) have a duty to only sell when they have some level of confidence that they can deliver what is being purchased.

    I don't know what that standard is, but to me it needs to be more than uninformed "hope." If I was writing a standard for this, I would say that they should be able to demonstrate the ability to deliver to customer's demands more than 95% of the time in order to keep selling membership into a shared pool of resources.
    • This is not a shared pool problem, it's a last mile dedicated circuit

      This is not a shared pool problem, it's a last mile dedicated circuit problem. At this point I only WISH I can get in on some of those TCP RSTs.
      • Hmmm...

        LOL @ RSTs...

        Something happened -- I was replying to a reply, but your system took it as a reply to your story. I know this isn't a last-mile issue.
  • RE: AT

    "...we don???t have much of a choice on where we live when an old and small home in Silicon Valley is $650,000."

    Where did you get the idea that you have a right to live in Silicon Valley, much less a right to live there "affordably" ?

    If you can't afford to live where you want to live, your "choice" is either to create enough additional wealth to be able to afford it, or live elsewhere.

    (I also don't have much of a "choice" when I try to live in the middle of Beverly Hills for rent of $500 a month! Somebody feel sorry for me! My rights are violated!)
  • 1500 Mbps? Do you mean 1.5 Mbps? [nt]

  • Ensure short unbridged wiring

    DSL speeds are very sensitive to the quality of the in-premise phone wiring. The phone company provides a nice twisted pair to the outside of your house. However, the wiring from that point may have multiple lines running off in parallel, and those lines might not all be good quality. I suffered poor DSL speeds for years. Then I disconnected all the old phone wiring in my house and ran one good twisted pair directly into the DSL modem. My speeds improved dramatically. DSL is designed to work with poor wiring, but good speeds require good wiring.
  • RE: AT

    WOW George, 1.5 Gb/s internet service. What a lucky guy!
    Hemlock Stones