Monday, July 24, 2006

AT&T's Project Pronto wasn't: 1 in 4 customers still without broadband

AT&T's Project Pronto, which set a goal of providing broadband to 80 percent of its service area by 2002 and the balance by now, wasn't. Consequently, at least a quarter of AT&T's customers are left twisting in the wind with sluggish dial up Internet connections, according to this editorial by Dave Burstein appearing today in DSL Prime.

Burstein calls upon FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to hold AT&T's feet to the fire by holding up its planned merger with BellSouth unless it acts -- and not just promises -- to deploy broadband to more of its customer base.

Here's some PR puffery from 2000 from what was then SBC Communication's PR firm on the now discredited Project-Not-So-Pronto.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

El Dorado telecom market needs local providers

El Dorado County’s market for voice and data telecommunications is stuck in the past, set up to serve the county as it existed nearly two decades ago but woefully behind where it needs to be today.

What the county needs to bring it up to date are nimble, locally owned and operated providers — enterprises to play the telecom equivalent of what El Dorado Savings Bank is to Bank of America.

The big, out of state domiciled Fortune 500 telecom behemoths are concentrating their growth strategies on large urban markets and on television and video services — services El Dorado County needs far less urgently than clear, reliable digital voice service and fast broadband Internet access. They have huge balance sheets and a nationwide territory to contend with and can’t focus their attention on a single, underserved market like El Dorado County. They are in the words of AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre in the “big pipes” business — providing the freeways that carry large amounts of telecom traffic. That’s a good business model for AT&T — to be the long haul carrier, the Internet backbone provider. It should pull out of local markets and make way for smaller, local telcos to provide services that AT&T by its actions (or more accurately, lack thereof) clearly does not want to offer.

What El Dorado County needs to compliment AT&T’s interstate and international digital highway system is a local telecom transportation department comprised of providers who can pave over its aging, deteriorating telecom roads and highways that are plagued with potholes of poor line quality and too narrow to deliver broadband Internet services.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Wireline market bifurcating as big telcos sell off lines

This New York Times (registration required) article reports big telcos are getting out of the traditional telephone business and selling off lines in some markets. The business rationale is these assets provide little revenue growth opportunity compared to booming wireless services.

Bucking the trend, The Times reports, is El Dorado County's telco provider, AT&T, which is sticking with its strategy of providing both wireline and wireless services. However, there's no evidence AT&T is doing anything to expand high speed Internet access in El Dorado County by upgrading its aged wireline infrastructure to support broadband.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cable providers outscore telcos for basic phone service

On June 27, your blogger suggested Comcast has a competitive opportunity in El Dorado County to overtake AT&T by offering both broadband Internet access as well as digital voice telephone service. (See Regulatory uncertainty creates "double play" opportunity for Comcast expansion)

Blogger Preston Gralla cites a consumer survey by J.D. Power & Associates that finds cable providers outscored telcos in customer satisfaction for voice telephone service. Gralla questions the long term viability of the telcos if they cannot compete with cable operators when it comes to their core service of providing standard telephone service. That caveat applies doubly in El Dorado County, where AT&T draws complaints for unreliable phone service while also not providing high speed wire line Internet connectivity to large areas of the county, leaving thousands of residents and business owners stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Swansboro Country: Another Eldo community on the wrong side of the digital divide

Since the start of the year, the good folk in Swansboro Country have suffered major road access challenges due to a wash out of Mosquito Road.

I've been hearing from some Swansboro residents that they're also cut off from the broadband Internet highway, stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide and relegated to sluggish dial up like all too many El Dorado County communities.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Telecom: Repeating failed promises

Brooklyn-based telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick insists that big telecom has systematically failed to deliver on its promises to the public and to policymakers.

In the early and mid 1990’s, telecommunications companies promised to build networks that could allow them to compete with cable. We were all supposed to get high-speed fiber optic cables (light pipes) right to the house, and they were supposed to carry voice, data, and video. There would be tons of competition, and 86 million homes would get 45 Megabits per second of two-way data capacity.

Excerpted from Public Knowledge blog.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

El Dorado County AOL dial up subscribers may face obsolescence penalty

If you're one of many who live on the wrong side of the digital divide in El Dorado County and limited to dial up Internet access, you could be facing an obsolescence penalty if you're an AOL subscriber.

According to The Wall Street Journal via this Reuters dispatch, AOL is considering offering customers with broadband (high speed) Internet services at no charge. Dial up customers, however, would still have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

This story illustrates how El Dorado County is being left behind at increasingly greater cost and inconvenience by its telecommunications providers while the rest of the world goes broadband.
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