AT&T Dropping DSL Leaves Low Income Households Without Internet

After sharing the news yesterday that AT&T is discontinuing its DSL internet service, a report has been released, showing that the move will leave millions without a fiber internet option. 

The report, created by Communications Workers of America and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, begins by stating that AT&T is “is making the digital divide worse” by not building out its fiber service to reach customers in the company’s network. 

Rural and low-income areas will be hit the hardest by AT&T’s decision to discontinue DSL without bringing fiber to customers as a replacement. (As we mentioned yesterday, current subscribers will be able to keep their service for the time being, according to the announcement from AT&T, but service cannot be transferred if a resident moves to a new location and sign-ups are closed to new customers.)

“We are focused on enhancing our network with more advanced, higher speed technologies like fiber and wireless, which consumers are demanding,” AT&T said in a statement announcing that DSL service would end on October 1. Unfortunately, the company has focused on bringing fiber to wealthier areas, leaving lower income areas without options.  

“AT&T has made fiber-to-the-home available to fewer than a third (28 percent) of the households in its footprint as of June 30, 2019,” the report says. “Across the predominantly nrural counties in AT&T’s national footprint, only 5 percent of households (217,284 out of 4,442,675) have access to fiber.”

Even in areas where customers may have the option of receiving internet service from another company, the report says that AT&T is doing a disservice by eliminating competition. Without multiple service providers in an area, “price, choice, and service quality” are all negatively impacted. 

“AT&T prioritizes network upgrades to wealthier areas, leaving lower-income communities with outdated technologies—households with fiber available have median income 34 percent higher than those with DSL only,” the report says.