The Case of the AT&T $10 DSL Plan That Really Never Was: Who is looking out for the small guy here?


This is an infuriating case of corporate chicanery coupled with FCC regulatory complicity. And while you are at it you can also tar and feather the mainstream  media for not taking the blow-torch to the accomplices’ derrieres. (Was it fear of  biting the hand that feeds it – at least as far as the electronic media is concerned?) For the record, here is AT&T’s dossier as fearlessly  dslreports.com’s Karl Bode:

“When the FCC allowed AT&T to acquire BellSouth in one of the largest telecom deals ever, the agency enacted a series of wimpy conditions (pdf). Not only were most of the conditions simply for show, but the FCC made it very clear they really had no intention of enforcing them. AT&T was supposed to offer naked or 768kbps $10 DSL for two years after the merger, but skirted around the condition’s purpose by never advertising the services, and making it difficult to order them until people really started complaining. The FCC napped.

AT&T denied obfuscation and tried to claim that nobody really wanted dirt cheap unbundled DSL service anyway. Worse perhaps than the weak and unenforced conditions were the meaningless conditions the FCC knowingly signed off on. Designed more for showmanship than substance, several conditions made consumer advocates, an unskeptical press and inattentive politicians from both parties feel good — but accomplished virtually nothing.” (Karl Bode Broadband DSL Reports)

http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/New-FCC-Same-Regulatory-Rubber-Stamp-For-CenturyLink-103109?nocomment=1

DSL for the price of a personal pizza and a coke: AT&T has evgidently conspired not give you that - even under the duress of the FCC, or what passes for it.

DSL for the price of a small pizza and a coke: AT&T evidently conspired not give the public this service that it had promised the FCC in exchange for permission to buy out BellSouth in a merger that would have been verboten a few years prior.

Evidence of AT&T  Chicanery: The key page promoting AT&T DSL plans does not show the $10 plan.

http://att-promotions.com/att-dsl.php

Neither does this one:

http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=7709&CI=CJ_AFFILIATEHSIA&RI=CJ1&RD=37922269&GUID=95B7260E-916B-4FEB-AD2C-D30B4C8908A1;49475679-7463-41E2-B617-7B5E86D1DDCA

However a “$10 DSL” Search will lead you to this page:

http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=7690#hsi

The information about the $10 DSL is tucked within a dense block of unbroken text about 7 lines from the bottom of your screen. As it turns out you have to have a residential phone account and must be a new AT&T and Bell South DSL customer, new being defined as not having possessed their DSL in the last 12 months.

“$10.00 Per Month Basic DSL Offer: For qualifying residential AT&T High Speed Internet customers only. Basic speed ($10.00 per month) available for new customers only. New customer is defined as not having AT&T High Speed Internet or BellSouth High Speed Internet in the past 12 months. Purchase of local service from the applicable AT&T incumbent local exchange carrier required. This is a limited time offer and is only available for AT&T High Speed Internet. Static IP products not included. Speed references based on maximum downstream DSL synch rates and may vary. $150–$200 additional charge will apply if technician install is required or desired. Billing begins on the date service is provisioned by AT&T, even if customer has not yet registered. Service not available in all areas. Subject to change without notice. Maximum speed achieved depends on customer location. Acceptance of Terms of Service required. Taxes and additional fees extra. Other restrictions, including credit restrictions and qualification, apply. Price expires on 12/29/09.”

As indicated the $10 DSL plan is being offered until 12/29/09.  AT&T has not indicated whether it will extend it. Here is an MSNBC cover story soon after news of the deal broke (Notice how charitable they are when it comes to characterizing AT&T’s reluctance to publicize the offer):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19305115

Like squeezing water out of a rock: Even downgrading from a $30/month plan to an advertised $20/month plan was not easy. A call to an AT&T service representative/operator did nothing to dispel the notion that AT&T makes it relatively hard for people to downgrade. The AT& representative feigned ignorance when asked about the $20/month plan. She only conceded to it after we indicated that it had been clearly advertised on TV and indicated the web page on which it could be found. The conversation was distressingly eye-opening.

OK, so we know corporations are crooked when it comes to the almighty dollar. The question to the  FCC is: Who is looking out for the little guy?

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