Is it AT&T’s problem, or is it AT&T because they are one of the largest Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country? America has a problem with internet service, and it transcends just AT&T. The problem is multifaceted and regional monopolization is only one slice of the terrible-tasting pie.
AT&T Internet is slow because they are the dominant regional provider in your area. If you Google this information, you’ll find the same hate-fest exhibited against Charter, Comcast, Mediacom, etc.
It’s a real problem, and you were probably unaware that at least 49 million people in America only have a single ISP to choose from. The rest of America is stuck in similar situations, with possibly a second provider that has nowhere near the same level of infrastructure and professional service.
Several things are going on here, and it gets pretty complex. To put it simply, AT&T (in this scenario, you can replace AT&T with any ISP in your area because it’s all the same) arrives at a location and lays out all of the infrastructures for high-speed, broadband internet service.
That means burying lines and running Cat5, Cat6, and fiber cable miles and miles. Once the infrastructure is laid, AT&T is your primary ISP. New competition, having nowhere near the same amount of capital as AT&T does, simply cannot lay down that infrastructure level.
Or, if they can, they can only afford to lay down older generation materials and nothing even approaching fiber. If these new competitors want to provide you with internet service, they are forced to lease the infrastructure that AT&T laid down, and you better believe that AT&T sticks it to them.
The new company will pay enormous fees to lease the lines. Those fees are transferred to you in exchange for internet service from a much smaller body of employees with barely enough capacity to manage their customer service and no remaining capital to hire more and grow their business.
AT&T now owns the region and it works the same with power companies and your garbage service. They can charge you what they want because there’s no alternative for you to turn to. It doesn’t matter if your internet is having issues because no one has to care and you can turn to no other company for a better deal.
This is the thing holding America back in terms of the internet infrastructure, speeds, and reliability – ranking almost dead last amongst all other first-world countries in terms of internet service.
In 2002, internet service was classified as an information service, not a telecommunications service. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that there are so many Republicans and Democrats in the pockets of the three largest ISPs (AT&T, Charter, and Comcast) that we can do little to break things up.
Most other countries require their major ISPs to lease their infrastructure out at competitive, market prices, allowing competition to move in, forcing major and minor ISPs to constantly improve their infrastructure, speeds, reliability, customer service, and expansion.
That’s not happening here. Your AT&T internet is bad because no one cares, and there’s little that you can do about it. The federal government continues to issue massive grants to major ISPs with no stipulation that they are required to improve their infrastructure.
These enormous companies push a lot of money into campaign coffers. They are rewarded with eternal federal grants that they don’t have to spend on improving their customer service.
It also runs in line with net neutrality. Without it, these companies can control communications, charging what they want to who they want. That’s a problem that needs to be fixed as well. Of course, once the door is open to the federal government to regulate, who is to say that they will “stop” regulating.
Once the door is open, it can never be closed. So you’re essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place while your AT&T internet service continues to be slow.
Right now, the FCC is hands-off because it cannot technically regulate an information service and doesn’t want to step on the toes of prominent Democrat and Republican politicians who never want Comcast, AT&T, and Charter money inflow to stop.
It’s not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats here, but a matter of political forces, regardless of party, beholden to the money of regional monopolies.
Failure of Anti-Trust Laws
So you have two things working against you so far. The FCC remains neutral for various reasons and the regional monopolies established by companies such as AT&T. Last but not least is the complete and total lack of anti-trust law enforcement.
AT&T, like the other major providers, simply gobbles up all of its competition or makes it so difficult for that competition to enter the market that they are effectively blocked.
AT&T, Comcast, and Charter continue to buy up the competition, and the anti-trust laws in America, which are designed to thwart this sort of activity, aren’t being enforced.
It all adds up to less or no competition, and a company that faces no competition has zero incentive to improve their product or charge lower prices. You may blame AT&T because it just happens to be your only option, but it’s a problem all over the country and with far more than AT&T.
Until America takes a page out of Europe’s playbook, allows more competition in the ISP market, and gets politicians out of the pockets of big business, not much is likely to change. Your AT&T internet is probably so slow because they have no incentive to be anything but slow.