AT&T DSL outage until 8AM Sunday 5 June

AT&T is upgrading DSL service and requires more than a full day, until 8AM Sunday, to do it.

So I happened to wake up and wanted to check something online. No DSL service. (Yes, I rebooted the DSL modem.) Determined the modem was working and the problem was beyond it in AT&T’s network. Thought maybe there’s a tree down on the line.

Called AT&T. Message said “high speed” Internet technical support hours are 6AM to 11PM, so please call back then for best service. Excuse me? The Internet is supposed to shut down overnight?

Stayed on, outwaited the robot, got a tech in the Philippines, with very loud noise on the line as soon as he came on. Outwaited his checklist about irrelevant details on my side of the DSL modem.

He finally got around to checking and discovered there was a posted outage in their DSL network. Why? Many people from my area code (area code? this is the Internet!) had been calling in complaining about slow service.

I’m not surprised. I was one of them a few days ago, and they sent a tech who made it slower. And AT&T claimed that even though I’m paying for 3Mbps service, they could provide it as slow as 1.5Mbps and still be within the terms of service. What other business could get away with that? “Oh yes, we sold you a car, but it can only go 30 MPH. Yes, the speedometer can read 55 MPH, but it doesn’t have to actually go that fast to meet our terms of service.”

ETA for uptime? 8AM Sunday. More than a full day of complete outage.

Why? It will be faster. Great. But they need to take it down entirely for more than a day to do that? What do they think it is, cable TV? Oh, right, that’s exactly what they want to make it into.

So how am I sending this? Fortunately, we have plan B: Verizon EVDO service, through VZ’s cell phone 3G network. Even slower than AT&T, but at least it works.

As I told the AT&T tech, I realize it’s not his fault, he’s just reading from a checklist and following orders, but if AT&T wasn’t a monopoly, it would be out of business due to such shoddy service.

Did I mention that the tech also said that if AT&T manages to keep DSL up for three days straight then I could call customer billing and ask them for credit for the service I paid for that they didn’t deliver and they “might” credit it?

This is why we need net neutrality. This is why we need real competition in Internet service provision.

Unfortunately, with the lobbying power of the telcos and cablecos, it seems likely that the only way we’ll get real competition is the way we got it for automobiles. Domestic providers will continue to provide increasingly bad products. Did you know that for the price you pay for Internet service in the U.S. you would get 10 to 100 times the speed in Japan or Korea or Finland or France? That’s right, 100Mbps anywhere in Japan, for about $30/month. While U.S. Internet providers call 3Mbps “high speed”. U.S. is number 18 even by average Internet speed. U.S. isn’t in the top 10 by Internet broadband service, either. Not a single U.S. city is even in the top 20 for broadband quality.

With such shoddy speed and service eventually NTT and TEF and even France Telecom will move in and out-compete the domestic duopoly, just like Honda and Toyota and Kia and the rest did.

Meanwhile, maybe Lowndes County and Valdosta should do what Thomasville and Thomas County did: bypass the duopoly and put in municipal broadband.