AT&T Wants To Force Everyone Off Dialup…Except Me

Reader yesfarro doesn’t exactly live far from civilization, but she does live far from civilized telecommunications. Mobile phone reception isn’t great, but more importantly, there is no broadband. No cable, no DSL, no anything. She gets by using dial-up through aT&T, but even that has become significantly slower than usual due to a problem with the phone lines that no one–not AT&T, not BellSouth–knows how to resolve.

For the past 9years, I have lived about half a mile from a MS highway, a quarter of a mile away from cable access and completely devoid of any chance of broadband internet acces. Cellphone reception is spotty, decent at best. When we moved here, we were told DSL was about to be ran, the promise was made by Bellsouth at that time. Months went by, I’d call them every now and then to check on the DSL availability but I kept being told it was still on hold.

Fast forward to 2 years ago, we’re still on dial up, paying for 2 lines with dial up service on it, on top of that, we’re paying for call wave, so I won’t miss calls while I surf. Yes, this was 2010, and I was paying $112 for this spiffy service.

Then one of my phonelines started going bad, it would slowly fade out without completely disconnecting, any one of you who still suffers from dial up usage will see the issue here. Pages load slow already, you can sit there for 5mins before the modem finally realises the connection is gone and tells you you’ve been waiting for nothing.

I called Bellsouth, they’d come out and fix it but the problem would pop up again within a week. After a few months, I’ve finally had a technician tell me water got in the box, he put in a new board and fixed it. Within a month, the service went down hill again, this time it took them a week to admit something wasn’t grounded, the next few weeks the line was spliced too many times, then it was water in the box again, some one put us on another board for no reason, no ground again etc etc.

For the past 2 years, I have called them at least once a month to report a problem. By now I’m dealing with At&t and their contact/service is horrible. I have managed to get one cut on my bill once, at 32 cents a day, I wasn’t too thrilled about that.

Every time I call at&t I have to go through a hellish phone system, most of the times it takes over an hour, only to be told the problem is on my end. I have to explain every single time that line A, the bad line can be unplugged and line B, the good line, can be plugged in and the problem is no longer there. Any one can see it’s not my modem or computer.

I contacted Better Business Bureau last month, At&t has had people over here at least twice a week, supervisors, random guys, name it, they’ve been here. All of them are nice and polite but I don’t appreciate having strangers around the house after dark, I’m sure they’d rather be home also but still, if they want to call this ‘out in the country’ they should know we don’t take kindly to women having strangers around that late. Every time they get here, the line works for a bit and they want to close the complaint, I ask them to give me a few days, and sure enough, it acts up again!

By now, they have spent an insane amount of man hours and probably a good bit of materials also, with no result. I have asked every single person that came up here if there are plans to run DSL, every single one has told me that there are no plans.

The supervisor even told me they went up on dial up prices and stopped supporting it just to force people to use DSL. He’s right, my dial up can no longer be auto paid along with the rest of the service, it’s no longer supported. So why offer it?

The money they’ve spent chasing a problem they can’t fix could have been spent on putting fiberoptics in and give us DSL. Our neighbour took a petition, 50 households asked for broadband,yet AT&T says that’s not enough demand.

If they’re going to make dialup this unpleasant in order to make customers stop using it, then why not offer an alternative instead? The Better Business Bureau may not be able to help, but try putting in a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Comments

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  1. RvLeshrac says:

    In before some jackass shows up with “This is your own fault and you should just pick up and move.”

    • Republicrat says:

      In before someone shows up with an “In before…” comment… Oh wait.

      • That guy. says:

        In before people start picking on other people’s comments, while not discussing the article.

        Hmm.

  2. T-Bone says:

    Maybe it is actually a problem on her end. If one line works and the other doesn’t, that says to me that the problem appears after her interface box. The phone company will work on the lines going into the box but it is your problem if something is wrong with the lines coming out of the box. I’ve had a nice technician do minor work for free on my line while diagnosing a problem before.

    • sirwired says:

      The first thing a tech does when working a line quality report is to open up the box and plug his tester straight into the test jack on the side of the house. The techs would have blamed the house wiring long before now if that didn’t check out.

      • T-Bone says:

        Could the problem come after the test jack or is that the end of the line(s)? Growing up, my parents got 28.8k on the interface side of the house but I only got 24k on the far end.

        • sirwired says:

          The phone company is responsible for a quality signal at the test jack. Your home wiring simply terminates in an RJ-11 plug that plugs into the test jack. If the phone company has been doing all these repairs to the line, it means that the signal at the test jack really is that bad. This problem looks worse than just 28 vs 24k.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Around here the outside phone lines really need to be dug up and replaced but ain’t no way Centurylink is gonna spend that. After a couple of days of heavy rains, can count on the line turning to awful static which you can either put up with (until they dry out) or call them, they’ll send somebody to tinker with the neighborhood boxes, then it’ll be fixed until the next time it rains.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Consider yourself lucky with that free repair because that’s a firable offense in most telcos and frowned upon by state regulators as well. It takes revenue away from the telco and can affect other customer rates since a free repair was probably charged to a regulated telco plant account-the same accounts that these telcos go to regulators with when asking for rate increases.

  3. mikedt says:

    I’m so addicted to always there high speed internet that I’d have to move if I lost it.

    • That guy. says:

      Same here. I can hear myself say, “I have to move closer to the internet.”

      • Not Given says:

        I’ve been thinking, “I want to build out near the lake,” then I think, “wait . . . no broadband.”

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Oh God, me too. Not to mention nearly EVERYTHING I DO has online components somehow.

    • StarKillerX says:

      I agree completely, when we were looking to buy a new home the big things I looked for were, the school district I wanted, price range, tax rate, and availability of high speed internet.

      Basically anything beyond those were negotiable but those were the deal breakers.

  4. HalOfBorg says:

    nitpicking time…..

    DSL doesn’t work over fiberoptic.

    I wish them all the luck on getting good service. Satellite?

    • scoosdad says:

      My (former) Verizon DSL feed was delivered by fiber from the central office to a cabinet about 2500 feet from my house and was converted there to a pair of copper wires for that last half mile or so to my house. That’s fairly common in my area and perhaps that’s what the OP was referring to.

      But I’m still waiting for the typical Consumerist commenter response to a story like this: “Should have just got FiOS.” /s

      • DonnieZ says:

        Your DSL services started at the box by your house. In there there’s a box called a DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Module). Fiber optics are used to deliver the data over long distances to each distribution point at which point it goes into the DSLAM. The DSLAM is connected to the pair of copper wire that runs to your house, which in turn connects to your phones / DSL modem.

        DSL is not delivered over fiber.

        • nishioka says:

          > DSL is not delivered over fiber.

          Yes, but AT&T would most likely have to extend their fiberoptic network to OP’s neck of the woods to be able to get broadband to them in the first place. Run fiber to the area, terminate and convert to ethernet so the DSLAMs can get on board, then turn around and wire up all the area houses to the DSLAMs. Sounds to me like that’s what is being referred to here.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      At $112 a month they can afford some of the entry-level business service plans and get on a whole other level of service from the Death Star

  5. Marlin says:

    “Our neighbour took a petition, 50 households asked for broadband,yet AT&T says that’s not enough demand.”

    Do a co-op like some areas in NC did and see how fast ATT says there is demand and you should be shut down as you are competing on THEIR turf.

    • wackydan says:

      Yeah… the only problem with that? The Co-op has to get the lines and equipment in and if AT&T is the only one servicing that area… then they have to hook into AT&T’s network… Which while dial up is 1/2 mile away, getting access to the ability to have high speed connectivity might be a mile.

      • Grogey says:

        Not to mention pole rights. Those government sponsored monopoly’s sure are great.

      • StarKillerX says:

        ANd don’t forget, even if the line is only 1/4 or 1/2 mile from their house it could be much further from the others (see my direct response to marlin’s comment.)

    • StarKillerX says:

      Actually a far easier solution would be for those 50 households to get together and pay to have the cable run that last 1/4 mile to their area, although I suspect the main reason for lack of cable/dsl is that those 50 houses are spread out of a huge area and be a much larger job then simply a 1/4 mile of cable of half a mile of phone lines.

      My sister and brother in law, who both work for the local phone company can’t get DSL at their house as they are to far for the local cabinet. A bunch of his neighbors got a petition going to try and get the phone company to expand their DSL coverage to their area and the Telco actually looked into it and to provide DSL service to those 40 households would require installing a minimum of 7 new centrol office cabinets, which by themselves would have cost well in excesss of a million dollars and that’s not counting installation and any other equipment/lines that needed to be installed to support them.

  6. JJFIII says:

    I thought the whole purpose for living in the boonies was to get away from the fast paced internet lifestyle.
    But seriously, it may actually be something on her line. The phone company is responsible up to the junction at the house. It could be wiring in her home that is causing the issue. I also question if she is saying it is slower than usual or does not work at all.
    As for her assertion that it would be cheaper to just run new line instead of investing all these man hours, I think she has no idea what she is talking about. If it were financially doable these companies would love to have you on their more expensive DSL plan. DO you really think they have a motivation to keep you on a slow plan?
    I think this is one of the risks when you move to a remote location.
    Another solution for internet may be a dish. You can get a low end package for about $50 a month

    • The Cupcake Nazi says:

      They can charge her $112 a month for shitacular, unreliable dialup and all the stuff necessary for her to have it on two lines.

      Or, they can get ~$40 a month out of her if they set up DSL so she could have it.

      OF COURSE they have an incentive to keep her, and al her 49 petition-signing neighbors (probably more outside that group) on shitty dialup! Based on the difference in costs, a $3600 a month incentive! And that’s just for her and 49 neighbors.

      • StarKillerX says:

        That assumes that all 50 households have two lines and two dialup accounts, which is highly unlikely.

        The truth of the matter is adding DSL to an area isn’t simply a matter of running some cable, fiber or otherwise, closer to their houses but would also require a local telco setup for that area and that equipment doesn’t come cheap.

        • Tarceinus says:

          Infrastructure of any kind usually doesn’t come cheap, that doesn’t mean we don’t build roads to rural areas.

          • StarKillerX says:

            But most roads are built by the public, although there are many private roads that were built to areas the government wouldn’t build roads to as it wasn’t cost effective. Take that even a step further, look at how many outlying areas aren’t provided water and/or sewer in certain areas do to it not being cost effective for the number of residents there.

            Just because you choose to move to an isolated area doesn’t mean a company should be required to provide you with high speed internet at a loss.

            Also, if they are 1/4 mile from a cable line I couid almost guarantee that the cable company would gladly provide them service, as long as they were willing to cover the cost of running the lines that distance.

  7. deathbecomesme says:

    50 house holds spread over how big of an area? They have to weigh the cost/return when they build out. To cover those 50 house holds they may have to build out in more than one area. Not really cost effective.

    • StarKillerX says:

      I suspect that is the actual issue, I doubt very much that these 50 houses are in the middle of nowhere but bumped right up against each other, since it nothing else I don’t think any cable company would have an issue running 1/4 mile of cable to add 50 new customers.

  8. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    If AT&T doesn’t want to provide dial-up service, there are other choices (Earthlink, AOL, Juno …). But it sounds like there are actual phone line problems which won’t go away with a different ISP. As mentioned above, it does sound like the problem might be internal wiring, and that’s the homeowner’s responsibility (unless she’s paying that ridiculous monthly charge). If I’m not mistaken, two phone lines would come to the Network Interface Device (a small gray plastic box probably located outside the house somewhere) on a single cable, and the split would happen there, again leading to a possible internal wiring issue.

    If there are two phone lines, what is this “Callwave” service for “not missing a call while online”?

    And DSL isn’t something that new lines get run for – you’re either close enough to the Central Office (CO) or you’re not, and even the Koch brothers can’t pay to change the laws of physics.

  9. Rachacha says:

    The OP says that cell reception is spotty, but not completely dead. I would try cell phone data modems from several carriers and see which one works the best for you. The OP can get a MiFi device or a CradlePoint to plug the data modem in to share it among all of the computers and devices in her house. Even if you are only getting 1-2 bars, it will likely be a better experience than dialup. If you want faster speeds, you can bond several data cards together and increase your speed.

  10. K-Bo says:

    They probably won’t run DSL because they are trying to phase it out in favor of U-verse

  11. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    If the 50 households are close enough you could design a fixed wireless system and feed it off a single high speed link. It would probably be about $1500 a month and about $5k to install (numbers are really off the cuff). If you can truly spread that around 50 people it wouldn’t be very much.

    • wackydan says:

      Except that leaves out the cost of the crew to hang the lines or bury them back to AT&T’s trunk line or switch and that may not even support that type of connection 1/2 mile away… and may have to go farther down the line.

      Hanging lines or burying them is stupid expensive….and if you hang them, in many cases you have to pay pole rental fees to the utility that owns the poles. I used to climb poles for a living working rebuilds and build outs…. we made a lot of $$$ doing that work.

      • nandhp says:

        Hence “wireless”. If you can convince a neighbor who *can* get high-speed to order some kind of business internet, then you can set up a long-distance wireless network to the houses that are too far away.

    • Not Given says:

      My mother used to get wireless from a cable company. It looks like they charge $35/month for 1.5mbps. $125 installation.

      My phone company has 1.5mbps fixed wireless internet in 4 small towns where their lines don’t run for $39.95/month. $380 installation or a one year contract.

      Maybe the OP can find a company that provides or may consider providing wireless in her area.

  12. That guy. says:

    What about dish internet access? Does that exist anymore? Not sure if this is something the OP wants to use. From what I know, you still need a dial up line to upload, but your download speeds are much better. That wouldn’t exactly resolve the particular issue she has with the phone line, but at least it it would provide faster internet access in general.

    • RandomLetters says:

      Dish services now are totally based on the dish. There’s no phone line required.

      • That guy. says:

        Really? I wasn’t aware. I’m not an expert on the techonology, but I thought dishes only work as a reciever. Like, Dish TV type services need to be hooked up to a phone line so you can send commands for stuff like on demand (right?). How does the dish internet service send data back to the service?

        • StarKillerX says:

          Initially it did, but I believe that’s changed although I never really bothered to confirm it since I’ve got DSL where I live.

  13. RandomLetters says:

    OP have you considered a satelitte based internet service like Hughes or Wildblue? They have their own problems but it sounds like they would be a definate improvement over you current service.

  14. aleck says:

    In rural Ohio, there are companies that hook up farms to broadband. They set up wireless transmitter an receiver. If it is high enough, you can easily get a few mile range. It will cost a couple thousand, but if enough people pitch in, it will be reasonable. Try to find out if somebody provides a service like that in your area.

    • Nighthawke says:

      Agreed. There are wifi providers out there that can hook you up for +Mb access, for a princely ransom tho. It won’t be cheap, but it will put her about 2 years tech level wise behind us. I’m rural and tried everything until I came upon a wifi provider that charges me 40 bucks for 1.5/.5. Better than a spit in the eye, I can assure you of that. Sprint EVDO, AT&T, Verizon included could not provide service to this location properly. Even the much-maligned Clear does not have service out here; there are no towers that give adequate coverage to this subdivision!

  15. Blueskylaw says:

    “I have lived about half a mile from a MS highway”

    Microsoft has their own highway?

    A super-highway perhaps?

  16. u1itn0w2day says:

    Sounds like something’s getting wet and drying out. How does a board keep a box dry?

    Alot of techs are not certified or regulary work on telco plant itself. Even many core/company technicians can only trouble shoot to certain point before they turn the ticket over to an outside plant/cable technician Also many telco’s want the tech to transfer a customer’s defective line to a new set of wires rather than troubleshoot.

    There is a cheap trick that might help the local telco locate the trouble and that is disconnect all phones and equipment in the house(usually can be done by unplugging your test plug in the grey box or nid(network interface device on the outside wall). Call your number from a seperate line and let it ring a couple dozen times. This will make wet trouble worse for a better test or dryout your line temporarily. Always report trouble as it’s happening if possible again for a more usefull telco test.

    That being said the cry baby bells or Bell South have been ignoring their copper plant for decades at this point. Most of the baby bells only added new copper plant as needed through the 1990s but never did much with the older working but deteriorating plant after the break up of 84.

    I’d atleast make sure a credit is given for every documented trouble report not found to be in private equipment/property. You could try the state utility regulators and FCC. It’s good that trouble was documented with the BBB but a regulator is the only agency that demand actual repairs to a problem.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Back when I had Verizon landline, and dial up internet, when we had problems, it was was in some sort of switching box. Bees had built a nest in it, plus the box leaked, so when we got heavy rains, the box filled up with water and the nesting absorbed the water. It was a mess. It took a few years for them to track down the problem. Then I switched to Comcast, and no problems ever since.

  17. u1itn0w2day says:

    Water in the box? What box- a simple copper wire connection box/terminal or an equipment box that needed a circut board replaced?

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Even twisted-pair has to have amplifiers along the way for very long runs, especially if it is one of those where the “2nd line” is actually a modulated signal at a higher frequency on the same twisted pair.

  18. CrazyEyed says:

    Why is she paying for callwave? I use it for free on my cell. And no it didn’t matter if it was a landline or cell line, you just registered by phone number. For those who don’t know what callwave is, its pretty much a voicemail replacement service that records and archives your voicemails. For people who run a business or get a lot of calls, or like to screen calls, its a decent service. Someone calls you, and then you get an email with the voice recording. Similar to what google voice does.

  19. mrregan says:

    Why not tether a cell phone to your computer wirelessly and get rid of the land line altogether?

  20. nishioka says:

    > Our neighbour took a petition, 50 households asked for broadband,yet AT&T says that’s not enough demand.

    This is why sooner or later the state/federal governments are going to have to step in and build out a broadband network on the taxpayer dime. If you live out in the sticks, that 50 households is going to represent a huge amount of area, and deploying broadband isn’t as simple or cost-effective as setting up a cabinet nearby and running cable to all the houses like it is in a subdivision in town. 50 households paying $50 a month probably wouldn’t even cover the upkeep let alone the initial 6- or 7-figure outlay it would require to get you guys online.

    You really should be petitioning the state of Mississippi for help, because the private sector isn’t usually given to charitable causes like yours.

    • StarKillerX says:

      We bash private companies for not providing services at a loss to isolated areas and yet look at how many areas don’t have city water/sewage even when they are only a short distance from main lines.

      For example, where I live they ended the sewer line about 1/4 mile up the road. If I want to connect to it I will personally have to pay to run a main from in front of my house to the town’s line and then sign it over to the town, who will then charge me not only a monthly fee but also a yearly $450 fee to help cover the cost the town incured when it installed the lines initially. Oh did I mention that the estimate I was provided was that to do the job “up to the town’s standard” would cost $25k-35k

    • StarKillerX says:

      Also I forgot to mention the following:

      My sister and brother in law, who both work for the local phone company can’t get DSL at their house as they are to far for the local cabinet. A bunch of his neighbors got a petition going to try and get the phone company to expand their DSL coverage to their area and the Telco looked into it but to provide DSL service to those 40 households would require installing a minimum of 7 new central office cabinets, which by themselves would have cost well in excesss of a million dollars and that’s doesn’t even count installation and any other equipment or wiring that might be needed to supply and support them.

      Now this was 5 years ago or so, but let’s assume the numbers are still accurate and getting all the central office cabinets and installing them only cost a million dollars, if you owned the company would you pay $25k per household so you can sell them a service for $40 or $50 a month?

  21. patty says:

    Ok, dish, and direct tv don’t necessarily guarantee service for internet. I do live out in the boonies and satiltite is more expensive and again no guarantee of service.

    We move from the city to the country. In the city we lived in no high speed access either. Just so you know, the city I lived in had high crime rate, massive drug issues, and yes two tv/hbo series about living in the city. We move because the house (rowhome) went section 8, and hubbo was well, not happy is putting it mildly.

  22. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I feel this woman’s pain.

    When we moved last year, from one rural spot to another (only about 10 miles away), we kind of wound up in the same position.

    At the first place, I waited probably 2 years before the DSL that was “imminent” showed up. And about 4-5 years before the cable that was scheduled “that summer” got to us. Lived on satellite internet…horrible.

    So before moving to the new place, I called our DSL/phone provider, CenturyLink, to make sure we could port *all* of our services to the new house…including the DSL internet. They said sure, no problem.

    Moved in. DSL doesn’t work. Spend 2 weeks trying to troubleshoot with CL. Eventually CL says “oh, I guess you’re too far from the switch…sorry about that. No DSL for you.”

    So…thanks for that. No DSL, no cable. Not ever going back to satellite…so for now we’re getting by on T-Mo wifi…which luckily is just barely within 4G range. Although we have to live with their 10Gb cap.

    I make it a habit to pester both CL and Comcast, the local cable provider, every other month or so to make them go through the motions of figuring out whether or not they can provide us server. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 4-5 years again.

  23. maratama says:

    I live in Idaho..and for many of our mountain dwellers satellite is the only internet that will ever be available(and for some only a couple of hours a day)…I know its upload times can be tough..but it sounds better than what she has…and less frustrating on the soul than battling ATHell.

  24. webweazel says:

    If she does live in Mississippi, depending on where she is, she might want to contact a company called “DSLbyair”. This would be a great thing to have in rural areas. Perhaps if she DID get those 50 people to sign up as a co/op, the company might be persuaded to put a transmitter in their area?

  25. Tacojelly says:

    Call you’re congressmen.

    The government has been talking over either building new telecommunications infrastructure (or giving grants to private companies) to get everyone in the US access to broadband internet.

  26. dwfmba says:

    This is a ridiculous story. Yes the service should work, but if one has any cell service at all, there are alternatives. A 3G/4G USB modem hooked up to a router (with a good antenna) would give significantly better service for significantly less. The fact that this user is hanging on to dialup just means they’re not trying out alternatives. http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-4501-3G-WiFi-Router/dp/B002OT93M6 + http://www.instructables.com/id/Use-a-Satellite-Dish-to-Improve-Your-3G-Wireless-M/

  27. dwfmba says:

    This is a ridiculous story. Yes the service should work, but if one has any cell service at all, there are alternatives. A 3G/4G USB modem hooked up to a router (with a good antenna) would give significantly better service for significantly less. The fact that this user is hanging on to dialup just means they’re not trying out alternatives. http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-4501-3G-WiFi-Router/dp/B002OT93M6 + http://www.instructables.com/id/Use-a-Satellite-Dish-to-Improve-Your-3G-Wireless-M/