AT&T is in hot water over Internet speeds in poverty stricken areas.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been taking taxpayer money and subsidies to upgrade their networks. Most of these networks are only somewhat increasing their network capacity. But in the United States, two-thirds of homes lack access to more that one ISP with a speed of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps).  To take out competition ISPs lobbyists have made state laws to prohibit cities and towns from wiring itself to compete with the ISPs.

AT&T is in trouble in Cleveland for not deploying upgrades to low-income areas. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and a Cleveland-based group Connect Your Community released a report (check the links below) about AT&T’s activities that the NDIA called “digital redlining”. According to the report AT&T was “intentionally only upgrading higher-income customers”.

The map of what this looks like in Cleveland.

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These groups are threatening to sue AT&T, with FCC data and “city construction permits and other information” helping to support their case against AT&T. With these accusations AT&T has this to say on this matter:

“Access to the internet is essential, which is why we’ve continuously invested in expanding service and enhancing speeds,” the AT&T response starts. “The report does not accurately reflect the investment we’ve made in bringing faster internet to urban and rural areas across the U.S. While we are investing in broadband, we’re also investing in technologies that will mitigate some of the infrastructure limitations.”

With FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wanting to make net neutrality die, it seems like we are going to have more cases like this.

Links:

Report of Digital Redlining (PDF)

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