Public Knowledge Responds to NDIA Report Indicating AT&T Discrimination in Ohio

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Today, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Connect Your Community published a report indicating that AT&T has “systematically discriminated against lower-income Cleveland neighborhoods in its deployment of home internet and video technologies over the past decade.”

The organizations reviewed broadband availability data submitted by AT&T to the Federal Communications Commission for June 2016 to reach its conclusions, suggesting that the company withheld broadband improvements from neighborhoods with high poverty rates while upgrading its network in the majority of Cuyahoga County. Public Knowledge believes that modernization of the the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure must provide an upgrade for all. These findings indicate that this has not been the case in Cleveland.

The following can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Fulfilling the goal of universal service and making communications services affordable for all is critical to promoting economic opportunity and ensuring families can participate in modern economic and civic life. Digital redlining and denying essential connectivity to low-income communities is contrary to America’s longstanding commitment to universal service and our values as a nation.

“The data show that AT&T has failed to upgrade its network in low-income Cleveland neighborhoods while deploying a high-speed fiber network to wealthier areas within the metropolitan area. This is classic redlining of services. These bypassed low-income neighborhoods have no options for high-speed fixed broadband service and must settle for lower speeds. As a result, families in these areas are more likely to rely on mobile broadband, which is significantly more expensive on a per GB basis.

“While it is essential that broadband providers upgrade and modernize their networks to support the increasing demands of consumers and businesses, it is also imperative that they remain committed to the principles of universal service and the Network Compact.

“For generations, it has been the policy of the United States that the benefits of essential connectivity should be available to all Americans, and there has long been overwhelming bipartisan consensus that part of ensuring universal service is making certain that communications services are both available and affordable. Unfortunately, it appears that those values are currently missing in AT&T’s deployment in Northeastern Ohio.”

You may view the report here.

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