An update on our last post...
CNN Money reported on Friday, and AT&T has now confirmed, that the company has reconsidered its earlier decision to deny “Access From AT&T” discount service to thousands of SNAP households living in areas of Cleveland and Detroit where Internet speeds are less than 3 mbps down.
From the CNN Money story:
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a public interest group, pushed AT&T to make the $5 a month offer available for customers whose service doesn’t reach 3 Mbps.
AT&T at first said it would stick to the strict terms of the FCC order. But Friday, after a series of stories appeared in tech media and on CNNMoney, the company changed course.
“We’re currently working to expand the eligibility process of Access from AT&T to the 2% of our home internet customers unable to receive internet speed tiers of 3 Mbps and above,” said spokesman Brett Levecchio.
Here’s the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s statement in response.
NDIA first approached AT&T about the problem after CYC reported that eligible applicants in Cleveland were being turned down for $5-$10 Access connections because the maximum AT&T Internet speeds available at their homes were too low.
It seems those households and their eligible neighbors will soon be able to get Access service after all, thanks to what NDIA calls AT&T’s “change of heart”.
In a new post at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance blog, Angela Siefer describes her unsuccessful effort to persuade AT&T to remedy a major shortcoming of its “Access From AT&T” low-income discount program. The problem: $5-to-$10-a-month Access accounts are only available to SNAP recipients whose homes can get AT&T Internet connections at speeds of 3 mbps or more. This speed threshold, which AT&T has now refused to lower, will exclude tens of thousands of otherwise eligible households in AT&T-served areas, from inner-city Cleveland and Detroit to rural Mississippi, where new Internet service is limited to 1.5 mbps (download) or less.
Yes, you read that right. It turns out there are places in the heart of Cleveland and Detroit where the fastest new Internet service AT&T will offer at any price is 1.5 mbps or even 768 kbps. And not just a few places. Data collected by the FCC via its Form 477 reporting process, and made available at the Census block level for the first time early this year, indicates that 1.5 mbps or 768 kbps is the maximum reported speed for AT&T’s current version of home DSL service (VDSL) in about one-fifth of all Cleveland and Detroit Census blocks.
Here’s that information in map form. (Hint: Click the little double arrow on the left side of each map to open it in full screen mode.)
Connect Your Community first took a hard look at this FCC data a few months ago, when we were trying to understand why some of the first eligible SNAP participants whom our partners helped to apply for Access were being told they couldn’t qualify, due to the service available at their addresses. We’ve been surprised (to put it mildly) to learn that AT&T’s available Internet service is so slow, in such large parts of our lower income neighborhoods, that the Access program’s discount rate opportunity will be denied to thousands of our neighbors who need it the most. We’re even more surprised that AT&T has declined to take the easy step of lowering its Access speed threshold to help remedy this injustice.
Stay tuned. More to come.
The Federal Communication Commission has published a new round of Form 477 data on fixed household broadband connections by Census tract. The new data is from Internet service provider reports filed in June 2015.
This time, the FCC has given us each Census tract’s proportion of households with fixed Internet connections at speeds of 10 mbps down and 1 mbps up, according to the providers’ reports. (Last time, back in April, the agency used a much lower benchmark of just 3 mbps — see the results for Cleveland and Detroit here.)
10 mbps is not an especially fast Internet speed standard for 2016. But the differences in broadband penetration at this modest speed among neighborhoods in greater Cleveland and Detroit, as revealed by the new FCC data, are pretty stark.
Here’s a map of this new data for Cuyahoga County. (Hint: Click the little double arrow on the left to open it in full screen mode):
And here’s Wayne County…
The majority of households in most suburban Cuyahoga and Wayne County neighborhoods have cable or DSL Internet connections at speeds exceeding 10 mbps (i.e. standard cable modem or AT&T UVerse connections).
The majority of households in most Cleveland and Detroit neighborhoods… don’t.