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Advocacy Affordability Broadband Availability Buncombe Cable Cloud Digital Inequality Digital Literacy DSL Fiber Fixed Wireless Broadband Latency Microsoft OneDrive Telecom Industry

No DSL – Cable, Fiber, Fixed Wireless, or Satellite?

What is next when the DSL copper internet service is stopped?

Recently I helped a rural Buncombe County resident of 60+ years with a questions about ‘unexpected errors and messages’ she was receiving while working on her bookkeeping desktop computer.

The Excel spreadsheet occasionally created ‘auto-recovered’ versions that confused her. Then she could not find the file on her local computer’s file system.

Noteworthy: Excel will attempt to autosave and create a recovery version of a file if unexpected computer system events occur, like a power failure or closing the computer without saving a file.

Additionally Microsoft was defaulting to save files to ‘OneDrive’ or Microsoft’s cloud storage instead of the local computer.

Cloud or ‘OneDrive’ file storage needs dependable internet. If your internet speeds are of DSL copper wire or wireless latency, you have less confidence of a timely remote cloud-server save.

Microsoft OneDrive is the Cloud

If you have an older computer and DSL speeds, saving a file the the cloud can be questionable if you are in a hurry. Slow download, upload, and latency can create uncertainty.

Additionally, if the system is trying to protect your local file by putting it to the cloud and you don’t know that ‘OneDrive’ is the cloud; your file could become orphaned from your workflows.

Fiber Broadband 12-Month Promotion

As it turns out, the client’s home had recent street-side digging of a fiber installation. Soon after, the client received a letter offering to get a ‘500Mbps speed’ service for $45 per month for up to 12 months.

The client claimed “$5 higher per month than her current service” from the same major provider.

Features and Benefits of AT&T 500Mbps speed

This client has several major features and benefits with fiber, including these listed on AT&T’s website:

  • 500Mbps equal upload and download speeds
  • Faster speed and more bandwidth for the always connected household
  • 20x faster upload speeds than cable
  • Power even more devices so everyone can enjoy their own screen
  • AT&T Internet Security included

What the promotional USPS promotional letter did NOT Indicate:

  • How much do you pay for monthly fiber broadband service after 12 months?
  • What are the taxes and equipment fees?

AT&T Shelving DSL

In October of 2020 AT&T indicated they would start shelving DSL.

“We’re beginning to phase out outdated services like DSL and new orders for the service will no longer be supported after October 1,” a corporate statement sent beforehand read.

“Current DSL customers will be able to continue their existing service or where possible upgrade to our 100% fiber network.”

USA Today’s Rob Pegoraro 2020

Monopolistic Fiber Broadband

This client has 5 options:

  1. Stop copper DSL internet (and phone service) and leverage there cell phones.
  2. Upgrade to cable internet.
  3. Investigate wireless home internet options (slower and less dependable internet than cable)
  4. Consider satellite connectivity, low-earth orbit
  5. Purchase fiber broadband service from the one and only provider in their area

The consumer has no ability easily to benchmark or compare internet service provider pricing options. Likely, the one-year plus pricing for fiber service will be much higher than $45 per month.

Reasonable and Protective-Pricing

Although this client appears to have the financial means to upgrade to fiber, who is advocating for reasonable and protective pricing schemes for this elderly client?

  • What happens to neighbors that may not have the financial ability to pay for upgraded fiber?
  • Who provides credible and secure digital education specific to the user’s needs?
  • What happens to the client’s service if the DSL service fails?
  • Who advocates for the not-so-current digital tech user?

“AT&T Fiber – Unlimited Internet Data | AT&T Internet.” 2021. AT&T. 2021. https://www.att.com/internet/fiber/

“Understanding Internet Speeds.” 2020. AT&T. 2020. https://www.att.com/support/article/u-verse-high-speed-internet/KM1010095

Pegoraro, Rob. 2020. “AT&T Shelving DSL May Leave Hundreds of Thousands Hanging by a Phone Line.” USA TODAY. USA TODAY. October 3, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2020/10/03/att-dsl-internet-digital-subscriber-line-outdated/5880219002/

Categories
American Community Survey (ACS) Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Data FCC Form 477 Maps Measurement Lab (M-Lab) Microsoft Ookla Speed Test

New Broadband Map

Federal Maps on Broadband are still wrong & threaten Buncombe County funding

Buncombe County, NC – No broadband need???

Our broadband leadership team continues to advocate for quality broadband in Western North Carolina and we get excited when new ‘Indicators of Broadband Speed’ data becomes available to further assist in making objective decisions for our communities. However, we question the integrity of the data, including for Buncombe County, NC.

Indicators of Broadband Speed

The Indicators of Broadband Need map was created by the United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 

The map uses several different data sources to show information on broadband availability within the United States. 

Layers in this map were created using data sourced from the American Community Survey collected by the U.S. Census, Measurement Lab (M-Lab), Ookla, Microsoft and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

A description of each data set is given in the map linked at the bottom of this blog as well as information on how to download the county, census tract and census block level data used in the map.

Comments from our WNC Broadband

  • New federal maps are an important small step in the right direction that point out the real extent of the problem.
  • New federal maps are still woefully inaccurate and show many areas as covered that are not because of the Swiss Cheese network with many small holes (see map below).
Buncombe Swiss Cheese Broadband
Buncombe Swiss Cheese Broadband Network
  • It will take years for the federal government to develop accurate maps given the mandate processes and the IT work involved
  • Therefore, the federal maps should not drive funding in the near term.
  • Near term funding must be driven at the local (county) and state level where local knowledge and feet on the street can determine where funding and build-out is critically needed.

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Leadership Team with any additional thoughts or comments.


New federal broadband maps show stark differences in access, affordability. Nbcnews.com. Published June 18, 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna1220

NTIA Creates First Interactive Map to Help Public See the Digital Divide Across the Country | National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Ntia.gov. Published 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.ntia.gov/press-release/2021/ntia-creates-first-interactive-map-help-public-see-digital-divide-across-country

Categories
Advocacy Amazon Apple iPhone Digital Citizenship Digital Literacy Digital Policy Facebook Google IoT Microsoft Tech Companies

Big Tech Silo Advocacy

GAMY Security Acronym

As a digital literacy instructor, I commonly get students that don’t understand the big-tech silos and the applications or apps that are associated with each of them, so I’ve authored a new acronym GAMY which could be expanded to GAAFMY:

  • Google (Alphabet)
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Yahoo / Verizon

The primary significance is that each big-tech silos needs a security-key to get into their silo. A security-key is a unique combination of an email, username, password, phone number, location, and possibly other multifactor authentications. If you are a Google Business listing, you would also receive a snail-mail post card sent to your physical address; which is yet another piece of security-key data.

Device Security

Each laptop, desktop, smartphone, tablet, IoT, smart TV, smart car or other computer device; individually requires device sign-in security. This device is yet another unique identifier to our profile. When individuals need to change a password, email, or device for an GAMY app; each device must be changed. Ouch!

BTS – Big Tech Silo

These security identifiers are data points held and managed by each big-tech silo (BTS). Is it safe to say, BTS know more about us than our own government? Our government most commonly knows us with only a combination of a name, address, email, phone, social security number.

BTS are the highly profitable growth superstars. Do they keep the best interest of all users when it comes to digital policy making?

Government vs BTS

As users, we really have little recourse to most BTS applications, but to accept their user license agreement or ULA. As individuals, we grant a lot of permission to the will of the BTS. So, who is our advocate of the software and hardware that uses broadband to transport digital information?

So if the Amazon superstar silo says they want new laws, who becomes the effective consumer advocate?

Perhaps we should hold the tech superstars to an even higher standard because of their power over our lives and their influence on policymakers and public perception.

Emily Stewart, writing for Vox’s Recode

WNC Broadband project is your advocate for high-speed internet to use these big tech services.

Who is your big tech silo advocate as a consumer? Especially when is comes to GAMY policy and procedures?

Is our advocate the United States government?

Can policy makers be influenced BTS, including big tech Amazon; without the best interest of the consumer?


.Amazon Wants a Lot of New Laws. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/03/technology/amazon-laws.html. Published 2021. Accessed June 6, 2021.