AT&T Giving Consumers The Runaround Over Secret $10 DSL

AT&T is required to offer a $10 DSL option to those consumers who are in AT&T’s 22 state coverage area and who have not previously subscribed to AT&T DSL. This requirement is part of concessions made to the FTC so that AT&T could merge with BellSouth and take over Cingular.

Getting AT&T to actually sign you up for the plan, however, may be more difficult. We’ve been hearing that consumers who try to sign up for the plan are getting a sales pitch for a more expensive plan, hung up on, transferred to the switchboard, etc.

It helps if you know your rights and understand the conditions of the $10 DSL plan. The plan provides download speeds of up to 768 kilobits per second and upload speeds of up to 128 kbps, matching AT&T’s basic plan. It will be available for 2 1/2 years and requires a 1 year contract. The modem is free. You can read about it here.

Consumerist requested more detailed information about the $10 DSL and the process by which consumers can purchase it. AT&T chose not to respond to our inquiry.

Consumers who are having difficulty with AT&T can file a complaint with the FTC, here. In addition, you may also want to file a complaint with the FCC, as they are the organization that authorized the merger.—MEGHANN MARCO

How To Get The AT&T Runaround [How To Split An Atom]

(Photo: Peter Kaminski)

UPDATE: For those of you having trouble explaining the $10 DSL program to your AT&T CSR, you might enjoy reading them the following passage from the AT&T/BellSouth merger document:

2. AT&T/BellSouth will provide an ADSL modem without charge (except for shipping and handling) to residential subscribers within the Wireline Buildout Area who, between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008, replace their AT&T/BellSouth dial-up Internet access service with AT&T/BellSouth’s ADSL service and elect a term plan for their ADSL service of twelve months or greater.

3. Within six months of the Merger Closing Date, and continuing for at least 30 months from the inception of the offer, AT&T/BellSouth will offer to retail consumers in the Wireline Buildout Area, who have not previously subscribed to AT&T’s or BellSouth’s ADSL service, a broadband Internet access service at a speed of up to 768 Kbps at a monthly rate (exclusive of any applicable taxes and regulatory fees) of $10 per month.

Despite the date of July 1, 2007 mentioned in the document, AT&T has confirmed to the Associated Press that they are offering the DSL plan now.

As far as we know the 22 “magic” DSL states are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corporation Application for Transfer of Control (PDF) [FCC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hawk07 says:

    The last time I was in HEB, they had an AT&T with rep kiosk advertising their services. Next time I see him, I’ll ask about $10 DSL.

    I expect a blank stare.

  2. QuirkyRachel says:

    Hmm, I once tried to sign up for ATT DSL, but after 3 extraordinarily frustrating months, they couldn’t get it connected (and they couldn’t agree with each other on why it wasn’t working). I’m moving in a few weeks, think I could sign up for it there? (No idea why I’m asking this. Being an ATT customer was the most frustrating consumer experience. Ever. It even tops being a Comcast customer, and that’s saying something)

  3. Uriel says:

    Similar to the “confessions” line of posts, we should feature AT&T “SECRETS”(spoken in a low, hushed, whispering voice).

  4. radiogrrl says:

    I tried to sign up the day I read about it and the AT&T rep I talked to had no knowledge of it…

  5. azinck says:

    Such shoddy journalism again from the consumerist. Read the post and you’ll see that the guy wasn’t even in the 22-state region eligible for the pricing.

  6. jackdangers says:

    May I recommend filing an official complaint with the FTC if you are subject to repeated run-arounds from AT&T? Here ya go:$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01

  7. TPK says:

    I’m sure many will be curious, as I was, which are the 22 magic states? From the linked article:

    Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

  8. Buran says:

    @azinck: Uh … the post is about how AT&T is totally clueless about the availability of this, which is still perfectly valid. There would have been no complaint if he’d been directly told that this was the case, but instead, all AT&T did was put him in transfer hell, try to upsell, etc. etc.

    All valid complaints.

  9. txinfo says:

    My mother signed up for AT&T DSL about a year ago. After spending 3 days on the phone with their tech support trying to get it to work, we said forget and sent the stuff back. This is a major suburb of Dallas where everything else works.

    AT&T needs to stop gathering up all of the technologies they can. If they can’t even get their land phone service to work, how do they expect to get anything else to work…

  10. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    My sister lives in Wilmette, Illinois, one of the ten wealthiest suburbs of Chicago.
    She still can’t get DSL from AT&T because those idiots can’t figure out how to put in a repeater station for her area or supply the DSL from the Glenview central office which is close enough for DSL!

  11. juniper says:

    Count me as someone who got the runaround. Funny, they don’t seem to be responding to anyone’s “inquiry.” I kept being transferred on the phone, and I am ready to throw up my hands and get a more expensive plan because it’s easier.

    Of course, that’s just what they want, too. Grrr!

  12. AcidReign says:

    …..My brother lives in Wilmette, too. It’s Comcast or nothing!

  13. ToadKillerDog says:

    I just signed up for the 10.00 plan with no problem. I was informed of it by the ATT rep when I called.
    I switched from Comcast because they would no longer negotiate on price. I pretended that there was no longer an effective monopoly on internet services in my area and followed through on my threat to switch.
    I am hooking this new system up tomorrow….. Hope it doesn’t suck to much.

    Anyone know when Wide Open West is going to compete in Indiana? Their reputation is much better than ATT, Comcast, and DirecTV. Is someone going to break my heart by saying bad things about them?

  14. RebekahSue says:

    I’ve had SNET (which became Yahoo! which is now ATT) since the week aftr it was offered here, or since May of 1999 I believe. I was on the wait list for setup. I should call and tell them I’m canceling and will sign up again in a few months to get that $10 deal. Yeah, I know it says “…who haven’t previously subscribed,” but I’ve gotten a few months of specials that way before, from these companies. (I’m currently paying $25 for sped-up DSL, which actually does seem faster than my old $19.95/month DSL.)

  15. azinck says:

    @Buran – It doesn’t seem unreasonable that someone assigned to deal with this gentleman’s local phone service wouldn’t know about DSL service not even available in his state offered by the DSL segment of the company.

    By his own admission, once he got ahold of the DSL group the very first representative he spoke with was able to tell him he wasn’t eligible. He pushed the issue to a manager who was able to give him detailed information as to why it wasn’t available. This doesn’t sound like much of a runaround to me and I’ve seen plenty of runarounds in my day :).

  16. Roundonbothends says:

    If you’ve had BellSouth DSL, does that count as “previously subscribed” to AT&T? The DSL through BellSouth has been the only reason I’ve been holding on to the phone line. (In Georgia.)

  17. Hawk07 says:

    For all you upset that AT&T still can’t get their act together with DSL and pretty much all their services, here’s a quick story.

    Back in the early 2000’s, my mom use to know the wife of one of the important VPs for SBC in San Antonio (which is now AT&T). Of course he lived in one of the wealthier areas where AT&T would want to deliver its service b/c that’s when DSL was $40+ per month. Basically, the service trucks were at this home once every couple of weeks b/c the DSL connection kept going down for no reason. The only benefit he had was that he got same day, or next day service and probably didn’t pay the gouging service call price.

  18. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    The Consumerist story is inaccurate and misleading.

    As said already, the guy didn’t live in the 22 states where AT&T is required to offer the $10 DSL.

    His chief complaint seems to be he couldn’t get a plan not offered in his state…

    …and why didn’t they know about an offer not offered in his state…

    …and why when told he could not get the offer why did they offer him something else instead?

    Why, indeed?

  19. dreww says:

    I currently work for a CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) and I noticed a couple states missing from the list. Massachusetts and New Hampshire should be covered via SNET .. Southern New England Telephone which was purchased by SBC which subsequently purchased by ATT. I can’t confirm this but it may be worth checking with your sources about.

  20. BugMeNot2 says:

    Does this apply to naked DSL?
    That means can I get a DSL-only connection for $10/mth without having active local phone service?

  21. Optimistic Prime says:

    AT&T in general sucks, but we’re stuck with it. Every time I have to call them, I get people who don’t know what they’re talking about, and they’re generally unable or unwilling to help. They claim they aren’t a monopoly, but they really are. The “alternatives” still force you to pay AT&T in their surcharges, so you end up paying even more yet and still getting the crap AT&T services…

  22. bnissan97 says:


    I really think there was some “padding of the pockets” for that merger.

    Their service sucked before and now they are bigger so you get mores.

    I hope and pray that they fall into non-existence.

    Try to easily find how to get in touch with the CEO’s office, or team.

    For those of you in states with Cox-I recommend them. They have taken care of every concern of mine even to the extent of being unfair to themselves. Some issues with them were handled promptly and involved even a credit. Well it pays off. I have been with them for years and recommend them to others.

  23. SexCpotatoes says:

    AT&T is fucking EVIL. Look up the comments from their CEO about how the internet should be ‘tiered’ and not accessible for poor people. The spying on citizens plan to examine every data packet that goes through their networks, and the handing over of thousands or more illegal wiretaps, phone records etc…

    Fascist bastards.

    Do business with AT&T, reserve your prime space in the Gulag now!

  24. edrisd says:

    I signed up for the $10/month last night with no problem. You have to sign up online, not over the phone. Also, the free modem is only for previous dial-up subscribers.

    The proper way to sign-up is to go to and put in your phone number. You will then be presented with all the options including the $10 a month with 1 year contract deal.

  25. serpicolugnut says:

    I was able to sign up online. They are supposed to come out on Friday to “install”. I have a fiber line, so no modem will be needed.

    I already have Comcast, but at $55/month, I’m looking to reduce my monthly outgoing cash. I’m sure at 768k down it won’t feel quite as fast as Comcast’s Cable modem speeds, but I have several issues w/ Comcast and their service. The network goes down quite a bit, and the latency is quite high. I can deal with slower speeds if the service is reliable and latency is low.

    Hopefully everything will go smoothly tomorrow for the install.

  26. BMR777 says:

    I heard also that ATT is also going to be forced to offer a naked DSL plan in addition under the same concessions. If I remember correctly the naked DSL plan will be the same plan as stated above, only it will be $20 / Month with no phone service required.

    See: []


  27. BMR777 says:

    @BugMeNot2: They will have a seperate plan for naked dsl with the same specs but for $20 / Month

  28. ToadKillerDog says:

    My ATT install for 10.00 a month went ok. The only real problem was getting my router to work with the modem they provided. I switched from Comcast at 768 (I asked for the cheapest possible plan) at 25.00 per month after comcast refused to negotiate any more. My effective new speed is about 600.

    So far so good.

  29. Havok154 says:

    I can see why AT&T grabbed Cingular, they both treat customers with the same amount of respect.

  30. Tonguetied says:

    I notice on the webpage that it says “and who order online”. So I guess it’s not too surprising that cusomer service “doesn’t know” about it. However what in their agreement allows them to limit it to online purchases only?

  31. Buran says:

    @Tonguetied: True, although why not just direct people to the website at that point? “You can only get that offer online. Here’s the URL…”

  32. compatlax says:

    Finally subscribed to the “new” ATT/Yahoo special $14.95 DSL. The one small problem I initially noticed: this was dial-up. I could only get online during the peak hours of 0200am to 0730am. Unfortunately, this was not especially convenient for my home business. I called the “help-line” and they offered to help me trouble-shoot my problem. I explained for the 3rd-4th time that my only problem was that I had dial-up, not DSL. They said that was impossible..I said I had no trouble getting on while the rest of the world slept. It must be a miracle that their system worked perfectly for the “graveyard shift”.
    After putting me on hold with yet “another technician who can help you find your problem”, I again dialed the help desk and told the ever-so-helpful girl answering, that the only help for my problem was to call a radio and/or internet “wistleblower” hotline and report them for false advertising, false helplines, false– whatever.
    After hanging up from my 5th on-hold wait, I found a miracle had happened–my computer was online–at 1pm–the first time during daylight hours since I changed over to ATT/Yahoo DSL.
    I’m sure it had nothing to do with my call or promises to inform the public. Of course not. But it has been working since my call..only a few black-out “dial-up” spots;i.e. 0800am to 0940am and 400pm to 545pm (peak times, I’m sure)…but it is difinitely the better for my queries and complaints.
    For those contemplating this service: unless you like dial-up by another name, I’d say: Don’t.

  33. vanierstein says:

    Well,it seems as if all the Baby Bells are coming home to roost under one umbrella. Perhaps we need to find a modern-day Rockefeller to author some new antitrust statutes.