There’s been some concern that our (still) only fiber connection could be in danger due to the massive mud slide on 101. Hank Sims has done a good job of trying to get to the bottom of this story over on his excellent new news blog. Unfortunately, the story peters out right where it usually does: The AT&T stonewall.
I think that’s the real story. All of Humboldt County is still beholden to one rather unresponsive corporation for its telecommunications services. Unless, of course, you can afford to get a feed from 101 Netlink.
Just in time for Apple’s release of their new 3G IPhone on July 11, Edge Wireless was absorbed by AT&T, so apparently they will be selling and supporting the IPhone at the local Edge store. But if you’ve ever tried getting support or real information from AT&T you will recognize the customer service at the new AT&T/Edge. Try calling and pushing the buttons to get a sales person. Voice mail. Except you can’t leave them a message. Try going in to the store: When I was there the room was crowded with people waiting for service, and no sign that the line would change any time soon, except by people leaving out of frustration. One of them was me.
So here’s the big problem: The new IPhone is much cheaper than the old IPhone. But the data plan rates through AT&T are going up. So, over the life of the contract you have to sign, the net you pay is actually more. Of course, AT&T would say the increase is justified because of the 3G network. Unfortunately, that higher speed network is only available in certain urban areas. Eureka is certainly not one of them. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. And I couldn’t get anyone to tell me otherwise. And I would be very surprised if the higher speed network will be coming here any time soon.
So, you can now get an IPhone locally but you will have to pay for service you don’t get to use and you will have to put up with AT&T customer service. Man, they don’t make it easy.
Thank goodness at&t revised its recently revised terms of serviceÂ so that I can once again feel free to write critically about the company (and all of its associates which is what, over 50% of the businesses in the world?). Just in time, too since at&t just won a sweet decision from the FCC that says it is free to charge whatever it wants for broadband service. Here’s a juicy quote from the article:
AT&T had sought relief from government imposed rules because it said that sufficient competition existed in the high-speed Internet, or broadband, market and therefore such price caps weren’t needed anymore.
And then there’s this: “…the agency’s two Democrats disagreed with the decision, saying the evidence to grant relief was “altogether underwhelming.” They added granting relief could lessen competition in certain areas.” Really? Certain areas like HumboldtÂ County, perhaps? As the sole provider of the sole fiber optic line, at&t currently has a choke hold on the region. Suddenlink already claims it pays more for it’s backhaul here than any other region they serve. Cox had the same complaint.
If multiple fiber outages weren’t enough to convince us that we need another connection to the Internet backbone, then perhaps the idea of increased competition with the behemoth telecommunications company may be just the extra kick we need.