Friday, August 03, 2018

Report: rural customers paying more for worse internet

Broadband customers in rural areas pay about the same prices for slower Digital Subscriber Line internet service as urban customers pay for high-speed fiber services, according to a new report from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, which advocates for more equitable broadband deployment.

"In places where AT&T and Verizon don't offer their high-speed fiber-based broadband, they continue to sell customers slower-speed DSL service," Marguerite Reardon reports for c|net. "But recently, the companies have been eliminating lower-tier plans, which has resulted in higher prices for the base cost of service. But in areas where the networks haven't been upgraded, like rural regions of the country or low-income urban markets, this means customers are paying more for slower service."

AT&T called the report misleading. It says it hasn't eliminated speed tiers, but has instead "simplified" its pricing with an "entry level price point that's remained relatively constant while the speed offered has increased," Reardon reports. But NDIA argues that providers like AT&T and Verizon haven't upgraded their DSL networks or increased the speed of those services.

AT&T also noted in its statement that DSL is generally more expensive to maintain, and that the cost per customer is higher in rural areas, Reardon reports.

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