Monday, June 16, 2008

AT&T's Web site engages prospective broadband customers in circular shell game

I recently ran a drill I've been running for the past four years to check wireline broadband availability on AT&T's Web site. The availability search engine would predictably come back with the news that DSL was "unfortunately" not available at my location. Unfortunate indeed since I was ready to order it in early 2003. I was then invited to register to be notified "if" DSL became available. In the meantime, the message suggested, I may qualify for satellite Internet. Newsflash to AT&T: In case you hadn't noticed, I don't live in the Arctic Circle; there's fiber just 1.5 miles from my location. I'll pass.

Then earlier this year, the DSL availability check produced a new message, sans the dubious invitation to go suck a satellite:

You may qualify for AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet and TV. AT&T U-verse is a bundled service of 100% digital high-speed Internet with TV that provides you the ultimate home entertainment experience.

If DSL becomes available at my location, Contact Me

I inquired with AT&T's U-Verse folks to see if I qualified for U-Verse. It should be available in 1-2 months, I was advised in an email. When I noticed no VRADs were being installed to deliver U-Verse's VDSL-based service, I asked about the 1 to 2 month timeframe.

That resulted in another email from Ma Bell:

Although service was estimated back in April to be available 1-2 months, it was just an estimation. Unfortunately, we are not provided with enough accurate information to be “positive” on the feedback we provide.

In the meantime, the latest from AT&T's Web site is I "may" qualify for U-Verse. Bottom line, no DSL and no U-Verse. As usual, the ever equivocal Ma Bell says maybe and that's final. She's all dressed up with nothing tangible to sell.

Update 6/30/08: Ma Bell has changed her mind -- again. Now I no longer "may qualify" for U-Verse as an alternative since DSL isn't offered. It's back to "Go suck a satellite." No wonder some wags have aptly dubbed U-Verse "Re-Verse:"

AT&T High Speed Internet

Our system indicates that our DSL service, AT&T High Speed Internet, is not available at your location. However let's see if we have another solution for you:

You qualify for Satellite Broadband from AT&T
Learn More

Among the benefits AT&T touts of satellite is "Wide Footprint" because it can reach people even in remote locations. In my case, remote means two miles from a major U.S. highway with buried fiber cable plant along a frontage road 1.5 miles from my location. Gee, and here I thought I must be residing somewhere in the Arctic Circle.

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