Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ma Bell tells El Dorado County: Go suck a satellite

Ma Bell has stiff armed much of El Dorado County clamoring for her to upgrade her aged and near obsolete copper cable plant to fiber optic to support improved voice service and wire line broadband Internet access. (See petition to AT&T)

Readers of this blog may recall the "Gut Check Time for Ma Bell" post on May 24 that included a link to AT&T's news release issued that day announcing the rollout of satellite-based broadband Internet service in AT&T's 13-state service area in a reseller arrangement with a satellite Internet service provider.

At that time, it wasn't clear if the service would be offered in El Dorado County. Now it's clear that it is: Direct mail postcards from AT&T pitching the satellite service have begun to hit El Dorado County mailboxes.

I expect many county residents and businesses aren't going to get excited over the service since they've long had the ability to go with satellite Internet providers at prices and speeds comparable to AT&T's offer. They're comfortable getting TV by satellite, but getting a second dish for Internet access? And after all, this is the Sacramento metro region, not the remote stretches of North Dakota or Alaska. Will we next have to get satellite phone service when the copper wire line system gives up the ghost?

By rolling out inferior satellite-based broadband (which by the way can't support voice over Internet protocol or gaming and lacks future growth capacity), AT&T is signalling it has no intention to upgrade its aged, antiquated El Dorado County wire line infrastructure anytime soon despite AT&T flackery in the Sacramento Bee in April promising county residents a number of broadband options by year end.

Bottom line, this is an unacceptable cop out. It's time for Ma Bell to decide if she really wants to be in the telecommunications business in El Dorado County or just another reseller like a Best Buy or Radio Shack, offering a service inferior to what she herself could provide. If she doesn't want to be here and serve El Dorado County's current and future telecom needs, then she needs to get out of the market and make way for other players who will.


Anonymous said...

This is unbelieveable. We get stuck with Substanderd dial-up and have no hope for upgrades in the future. If AT&T isn't going to even let us in Eldo even get speeds above 3KB a second let alone broadband then we need to dumb AT&t. It's time for AT&T to take this Copper S*** and shove it up it's A**

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. This is not acceptable.

I'm in touch with people all over the nation and nobody has dialup anymore.

But, Greenstone Country residents managed to get the service. Hmm...

What can we do?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't local Government get on the ball for its residents and put in a locally run and funded wifi network? Many towns do this so the problems of doing so are well understood. I know the terrain is not the best for wifi, but a small number of carefully placed stations would surely cover the large majority of us.

Maybe we should be petitioning local Government, who need voters, rather than an uncaring AT&T?

Michael Cuming

Fred Pilot said...

Thanks for your comment. You suggest El Dorado County residents should petition local government instead of AT&T.

Right now, the county's telecommunications infrastructure is privately owned and operated. So is the electric distribution infrastructure. The difference is the electric utility company serves all of El Dorado County and doesn't like the telcos and cable providers decide to choose some areas of the county and not others.

Imagine, for example, what the public reaction would be if PG&E decided it would serve just a three mile radius of central Placerville. Residents of Garden Valley, Pleasant Valley, Camino and Pollock Pines would either have to generate their own electricity or live in the 18th century.

That's about where things currently stand in El Dorado County with broadband Internet access. Even telecom execs agree it's infrastructure just as vital as electrical distribution.

Ultimately a public utility to provide reliable telecommunications throughout El Dorado County may be the only option if private sector providers don't step up to the plate and bring the county's telecommunications infrastructure up to date to serve the county's current and future needs.

oakhillrd said...

I agree with Michael Cuming. We should assemble a group to appear at the Board of Supervisor's and the Plavcerville City Council's meetings for this purpose. The City Council in Sacramento is the the process of doing the same. They recently rejected one contracted fro proposal because it did not offer enough for its constituients. Both of the elected bodies here must afford us time on their agendas for citizents to speak to the issue. If we organize correctly we can occcupy a significant portion of their agenda time to get their attention. We send a delegation back each week until the message sinks in that we will continue to appear and address them until we hear something positive on the subject. I am willing to help with this effort but my schedule is very hectic between now and Sept 15th. However, I can communicate a bit via email with desired organizers on what to do, how and when.

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