SBC/ATT Changes Its Tune

You’ll recall Annie Collins and the noble band at Fiber for Our Future from the Tri-Cities in Illinois. Their horrific experience with SBC/ATT (their BellSouth) in which they were drowned in a sea of incumbent money inspired local concern about the issue and led to an Indpendent article that featured their experience. Part of that experience was a pretty incredible claim that fiber optic technologies were “unproven;” even though SBC (now ATT) was in the process of completing its transition to a fiber-optic backbone (as was every other telco).

The most amusing example was the SBC rep who tried to convince the city council that fiber optics were “unproven technology” for home use. The FFOF folks caught him on video and it provided no end of embarrassment at the time (the technology was anything but unproven).

Now, presto chango, via the magic of telephone hooey, SBC/ATT has discovered that fiber optics is standard technology, really:

It reflects the newest step forward for communications technology, said Virgil Pund, vice president and general manager of AT&T Illinois, formerly SBC.

“As we build out, fiber to the home will become standard,” Pund said.

Standard, why’s that, we ask.

Fiber-optic networks allow for faster Internet use, and all household communications go through the same line. Fiber optics will also be able to handle new technology as it progresses, like VoIP phone service, or interconnected electronics, such as calling your house from your cell phone to record a show on TV, Pund said…

Many files will download in a matter of seconds through those lines, AT&T spokeswoman Blair Klein said.

And really do we need more than a meg and half that you told the folks in the Tri-Cities would fulfill their needs? Apparently the new answer is a resounding “yes!”–ignore that other fellow in the video–he was misinformed:

The fiber optics in the Settlers Ridge subdivision will offer a speed of 3 to 6 megabits per second and Dish network for television, Pund said.

Many files will download in a matter of seconds through those lines, AT&T spokeswoman Blair Klein said.

DSL lines carry about 1.5 megabits per second, and cable lines carry about 3 megabits per second.

Actually that is pretty pitifully throttled down for fiber. Even when they have it the telcos won’t let you have it evidently … since the cable in the area is pretty anemic too, SBC/ATT apparently thinks that merely doubling cable speed will buy them all the advantage they need; regardless of what the community might want.

AT&T is working on laying fiber optics to three different subdivisions in the state now, and plans more in the future, Pund said.

“It’s a huge value add,” said Frank Scaramuzza, chief information officer for Kimball Hill Homes, which is building the subdivision. “It’s a pretty big selling point.”

As we say down here: “Well, yeh.” (If you aren’t hearing several syllables in that “yeh,” and a dollop of incredulous disbelief you just aren’t listening.)

All this is happening just down the road from the people who they road into the ground claiming that none of the above was true. It must be a bittersweet vindication for the folks from Illinois to hear BellSouth say:

“…what we’re finding is that most households are becoming more dependent on broadband access,” he said. “Everything from having kids in school to managing the household.”

At least the local paper recognizes the connection. The story closes with:

Voters in Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles twice voted against—in March 2003 and November 2004—looking into creating a municipal broadband system that would provide high-speed Internet, phone and cable service to the towns’ residents.

Both SBC and Comcast lobbied hard against that proposal during both elections.

Talk about an understatement. And now they aren’t even gracious enough to eat their words in public.

1 thought on “SBC/ATT Changes Its Tune”

  1. To bring this home, check out the Google map link –

    Start point is Geneva City Hall. End point is the location of the new development.How close is close? The gent in the video is the 5 State Network Operations President for AT&T. He thinks fiber is unproven? I doubt it.

    Pete Collins