AT&T Uses Loophole to Avoid Low-income Internet Discounts

Discussion in 'Android News' started by Jeffrey, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Premium Member
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    AT&T is using a technicality to refuse its FCC-mandated "Access From AT&T" discount program to families who should qualify for it, according to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). In an absurd twist, the loophole is that its broadband speeds in the affected areas are too slow.

    As a condition for AT&T's merger with DirecTV, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that it offer $5 or $10 internet service to people on the SNAP low-income assistance program. If internet speeds were between 3-5 Mbps, folks would pay $5 per month, or $10 per month for speeds between 5-10 Mbps. So, if speeds are lower than 3 Mbps, do folks then pay $5 per month or less?

    Not according to AT&T. When the NDIA asked the company to apply the program to neighborhoods with speeds of 1.5 Mbps, it refused. "AT&T is not prepared to expand the low income offer to additional speed tiers beyond those established as a condition of the merger approval," the company replied in a statement. As a result, poor families that should qualify for the $5 program must pay $30 per month (and more after 12 months) for a service well below the definition of "broadband."

    AT&T told the Daily Dot that "the vast majority of the locations where we offer internet service are able to subscribe to internet speed tiers at 3Mbps or higher." It added that the 3 Mbps cutoff was "determined by the FCC." However, the NDIA points out that 21 percent of subscribers in Detroit and Cleveland, mostly in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods, have 1.5 Mbps or lower speeds.

    AT&T's response is very unfortunate for tens of thousands of households in the company's 21-state service territory who may need affordable internet access the most, but who happen to live in places ... where AT&T has failed to upgrade its residential service to provide reasonable speeds.

    The FCC declared last year that the internet is an essential utility for consumers, not an optional luxury, a decision backed by a US district court. The ruling gives it much broader latitude to regulate internet prices and other aspects of service. Utilities like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon disagree, however, saying the order hurts competition and infrastructure development, and that they'll battle it all the way to the Supreme Court. (Engadget has reached out to the FCC and AT&T for comment.)

    While AT&T may be within its rights to do no more than the FCC requires, the NDIA was disappointed by the decision. "AT&T's response is very unfortunate for tens of thousands of households in the company's 21-state service territory who may need affordable internet access the most, but who happen to live in places –- both city neighborhoods and rural communities –- where AT&T has failed to upgrade its residential service to provide reasonable speeds," it said in a blog post.

    Is it good business, or just greed on AT&T's part. What's your opinion?


    Source: Engadget
     
  2. pc747

    pc747 Administrator
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    I'm all for helping people. Programs that are designed to help people get an opportunity, whether it is in the form of education or a trade I am all for.

    If I'm not mistaken they have these places called a public library. In those libraries they have books and computers with internet.

    I need to do more research because it seems like this program is not only providing internet for low income but mandating the speeds.


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  3. tech_head

    tech_head Silver Member

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    Really, so what is a student to do late night when the library is closed to get an assignment done?

    If you need to email a teacher, you should wait until you can get to some free WiFi or the library.

    I don't have this issue, but people with privilege rarely understand the woes of those with low or limited income.

    For AT$T is just another way to gouge the poor.
    So they should pay 6x as much for less than ½ the service?
    Wow!
     
  4. pc747

    pc747 Administrator
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    Actually I didn't have. I was one who would go to the 24 hour MCD's to use their free Wifi. I worked at walmart to get through school. And I grew up on welfare, foodstamps, and reduced lunches until my parents were able to make higher rank to get off of that stuff.

    So I am all for helping as I came from nothing and saw people with nothing make something. Those without normally find ways to make it.

    I just know so many people who take advantage of the system and do not have any desire to do anything but get what they can get for free. With any program my question is always "is this a fish or a fishing pole?"

    Another topic for another thread.
     
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  5. tech_head

    tech_head Silver Member

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    What we are talking about is AT$T not providing discounts AND not upgrading infrastructure to a point where the discounts would be mandatory. "the NDIA points out that 21 percent of subscribers in Detroit and Cleveland, mostly in low-income, inner-city neighborhoods, have 1.5 Mbps or lower speeds."

    So AT$T is getting full freight for low quality service.
    "As a result, poor families that should qualify for the $5 program must pay $30 per month (and more after 12 months) for a service well below the definition of "broadband."

    With the fact that they get $30/month and sometimes more for low quality service, do you think a corporation like AT$T is going to do the right thing and upgrade the network or charge lower monthly? By touting the letter of the law they get to not invest in infrastructure and charge more for sitting on their hands.

    Great job AT$T!
     
  6. mountainbikermark

    mountainbikermark Super Moderator
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    I had dsl for over a decade and survived just fine on speeds ~.8Mbps when looking for a job and anything business like. My 4 kids did just fine with their homework at those same speeds.
    YouTube and other non essentials suffered but essentials didn't miss a beat. I paid almost $30 s month for those speeds btw because that's the only choice I had.

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  7. pc747

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    I wanted to read another source and I do not think that the FCC should mandate a company provide anything. But if it was part of the merger and AT&T agreed upon the merger then they should fulfill it. I just disagree at that being something the FCC should have been allowed to mandate.

    As far as internet well let's take a look for a minute. Below are companies that already service low income families (some) with speeds that are faster.

    Save With Our No-Contract Mobile Hotspot <----$15

    Mobile Hotspot Plans: Prepaid Hotspots | Connect Anywhere | Cricket <----$10

    Phone & Internet Plans from $0/month - FreedomPop


    ^ Looks like that area is covered as far as budget plans. Is it going to be up to par with VZW and ATT, no, but you get what you pay for. So yeah I agree that AT&T is wrong for bailing out on what they agreed on but that should not have been part of the mandate in my opinion.

    Sources: http://gizmodo.com/at-t-exploits-massive-loophole-to-deny-budget-internet-1786295847
    AT&T refuses to offer low-income discounts for sub-3Mbps Internet
     
  8. pc747

    pc747 Administrator
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    As much as I may sound like a rich person penny pinching I'm not. Any time a debate like this is started it is easy to form opinions about where people may stand in life, I know because I been on both sides even arguing the argument you have argued. And it's hard to truly judge the heart of the person on the other side of the kb. Those that know me know my heart and the time I have given for those in need.

    This is what I have learned about federal intervention, it seems to delay vs speed up providing help. Here is an example. When the smart phones was out with Droids and iPhones it cost a lot of money. At first only business people and those that had the money to spend had smartphones. As time progressed more companies started developing parts and programs to where now you can go into a store and pick up a decent smartphone for about $100 (or less) without an expensive contract.The same can be said about wireless service, flat screens, television, etc.

    When a company makes money they can hire more people to support the service as well as increase their infrastructure. As a result of the improved infrastructure the non-contract companies that feed off of those towers are able to provide a better service at a lower price. Now I am not saying allow companies to "run over little people". But I am saying the market does a great job on it's own. In fact if you look, there has been a surge to improve the plans of their non contract plans by carriers and to provide more focus on low tiered devices by manufacturers. This is done because they want to cover the entire market. By covering the entire market companies maximize their earning potential and customers get more variety at different price points. This is why competition will do more to help the market vs intervention.

    As far as this article, as I posted before, poor move by at&t bailing but not sure it should have been part of the mandate from the beginning. But
     
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  9. RETG

    RETG Active Member

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    I have yet to figure out how the government can require private companies from giving away free service, or items. Agree, if it was part of a merger approval that makes it different. However, where does it stop? Will a Federal agency come along and mandate GM/Ford, etc., to give poor families a vehicle for free or minimal amount, and if they have a large family, a vehicle to hold their family? Then will it progress to the fuel companies to reduce the price of fuel for those vehicles?
    Where does it stop?

    If I'm not mistaken that first FCC fee was for providing EMERGENCY phone service in areas where it costs a company too much to run in wires.Then it progressed to cell phones, and now, those free cell phones are not limited to emergency service; they provide upwards of 250 minutes. Now 4G is a requirement in certain cases.
     
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  10. shockracer

    shockracer Active Member

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    Good family friend of ours deals with people on the low income Cable internet for grade school students. It's a slow speed that at a peak will allow online game for one game. Out of the hundreds of installs he does a month only a handful are greatful. Most of the time he will get called back (which looks bad on him) for connection issues. When all is said and done he proves it's the speed that is provided (which is free) and not ment for PS4, Xbox One, YouTube, and Netflix all at once yet they still complain. There is a point in time when you have to say to people, if you want something go out and get it, dont wait for a handout!

    Ive held a 40 hour or far more hours job since I was 13, it's makes me appreciate what I have. If you dont work for something you have no respect for it.
     
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  11. pc747

    pc747 Administrator
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    Sadly that's the way it is. I'm not saying because you are poor you can not have a game system for the kid. But I just see some that feel like they are entitled to x,y, or z. Something that is meant to help people get on their feet is treated like it's required.

    I'm not saying it's easy raising a (or several) kid(s) working at the local Walmart. And yes it takes 2 to have a child. But I have seen plenty of single mothers put themselves through nursing school while working at Walmart so they can provide a better life for their kids.

    To them I am for helping because you can see they are trying. But to the person that have no desire to try and is OK with using the system so they can sit at home and watch Maury and Springer, I am not for helping. And companies should not be forced to offer free/reduced services to people doing that.

    By the way at the end of the day the reality is the company may be providing but the taxpayer.... Nevermind better not go down that road.

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  12. pc747

    pc747 Administrator
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    On another note I saw this story over the holiday weekend and was touched. There is a car shop out of Mt Juliet TN that fixes cars so they can give them away for free to needy families needing a car. They pick one family a year but this year went up to 13.

    To the employees of that shop volunteering their time and the owner, cheers. Hopefully they don't get some jack wagon complaining about why they are using after market brakes and tires. Because there will always be one.


    Edit: Tennessee Auto body Repair Shop Gives Away 11 Cars To Families in Need


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    #12 pc747, Sep 8, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
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