Ma Bell Is The Latest To Mock Naked DSL Requirements

from the no-rules-on-price,-huh? dept

As the debate surrounding the telcos has lately been focused on net neutrality, another issue that is a result of the lack of competition in the space has slipped back under the radar: naked DSL. Most of the telcos (Qwest being a notable exception) require that any customer who wants a DSL line also has to buy phone service from them as well. This is what allows them to claim they charge only $15 or whatever for a DSL line, but if you add in the phone service and additional fees it tends to be much higher. It’s never made much sense that the telcos are so against just offering plain old naked DSL without the phone service. After all, for people who just want to use a mobile phone and/or VoIP, isn’t that only going to encourage them to go to the competition who won’t force them to bundle an unwanted service? Oh… right. There isn’t much competition, which is what allows the telcos to get away with the bundle. For quite some time, there’s been some pressure on SBC/AT&T to offer naked DSL in California, but the company has resisted, claiming that no one wants it (which is laughable). However, as part of the SBC/AT&T merger, one of the requirements (and basic admission that the new company had monopoly powers in some areas) was that they offer naked DSL. Not surprisingly, they looked for loopholes. They didn’t take the misleading route of Verizon in announcing they offered naked DSL when the fine print showed they they really didn’t, but rather went with the strategy of (1) not telling anyone they actually offered naked DSL and (2) jacking up the prices of naked DSL so that it’s only $1 less than if you ordered DSL and a phone line. Yes. One whole dollar. AT&T offers a bogus response to a reporter asking about this, claiming miraculously, that the naked price “accurately reflects the real cost of DSL.” If that were true, it would mean the company is selling almost all of their DSL lines at a loss — which is ridiculous for anyone who can do a bit of math.

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Comments on “Ma Bell Is The Latest To Mock Naked DSL Requirements”

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Mark says:

Why doesn't TechDIrt believe in open markets?

I read article after articel on TD about how the big, bad, mean, nasty old teleco’s and cable co’s lie in an effort to cheat consumers and the markets. Isn’t one of the main concepts of an open market that the natural consumer pressure will drive a market to meet the needs of the consumers?

So if this is the case why is it that no one has come in and challenged AT&T and others on not offering naked DSL? Let me preempt the majority who always respond wiyh how the incumbents all received federal subsidiees. First that is BS for the most part. The teleco subsidies for copper do not appply to fiber and the cable companies are self financed for the most part. Next, and far more important, is that there are other options available. Take WildBlue for instance. If people only want naked DSL than why not go to an alternative provider like WB, and there are plenty of others, and order only that service? If that happens than the telcos would be forced to react, m ost likely prices will be cut and we could all see the power of a free markete economy. But it hasnt so therefore I dont see why there should be any other conculsion other than a bunch of blowholes like to write about this stuff to make a point that the actual consumers are unwilling to make on their own.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Why doesn't TechDIrt believe in open markets?

there are like 6 open telco markets in the US.

there are only two choices in town for me, the cable company and the phone company. so until i can get tv service from the phone company there really isn’t much of a choice for me.

this is the whole problem with telecommunications: there still isn’t real competition.

yes, wild blue rocks, it rocks absolutely:

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Ivory Bill says:

Re: Why doesn't TechDIrt believe in open markets?

Why in the world would you think that landline internet service is an open market? Yes, CLECs can offer dsl, but the price they pay makes it difficult to compete on the consumer level with the Incumbent LECs. (LEC=local exchange carrier, your local telco; CLEC is a competitor LEC). As far as cable is concerned, Time Warner offers roadrunner, AOL, and Earthlink. Earthlink is the only one of the three they don’t own.

The issue is simply that the telco and cableco last-mile infrastructure was built for the benefit of the incumbent, old-line companies, and they control most of the internet access.

I would agree with you if there were anything resembling an orderly and open market for broadband internet service, but as far as I can tell, there is no open market at this time.

Stevie Cynic says:

Re: Why doesn't TechDIrt believe in open markets?

Free market zealots always overlook the effects of oligopoly and monopoly. In these cases (telephone, energy, utilities, medicine), regulation is not only customary, but more often than not required to stabilize the market and keep it fair..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why doesn't TechDIrt believe in open m

Actually it’s regulations that usually jack up prices and reduce services. Competition needs to be brought into the market. Let’s not forget that the reason there is a monopoly here is that the governement has granted it.

Ok, so who are you going to bring into the fray that has the money to set up shop? Yes, an open market with competition would improve the situation but let’s face it, the big boys have it locked down too tight for there to be any newcomers. The only option left is to make sure the existing players “play fair,” which means tons of regulation.

Think of it as the lawyer vs. the genie. The lawyer has to make a wish but he knows the genie is going to try to mess it up with a loophole so he has to plan out ahead to plug all the loopholes. If the FCC had any inkling of what a mess this would have become they would have plugged up the loopholes long ago.

Malux says:

Open Markets?

It’s not that techdirt doesnt’ like open markets. The fact is, most of us wouldn’t hear about this issue without techdirt. Consequently, without knowing about it we wouldn’t be able to put the pressue on the telcos.

I’ve been using DSL for years and until today, I didn’t konw there was such a thing as naked DSL. You can call me an idiot, but in all truth, the telcos have always sold DSL as “internet access using your phone line”.

As for the telcos and the cable access. It’s hard to have sympathy for monopolies trying to split up the internet into a hierarchy with aristocrats getting the most access becaus they have the most dollars.

The U.S. is already lagging behind in bandwidth availability when compared to other countries. Open markets is one thing. Tight control is another. Just my .02

Anonymous Coward says:

Open Market vs Monopoly Power

First, it is not an “open market.” The reality is that ATT had a governmnet sponsored monopoly to get all the phone lines in. And for many reasons the market remains closed. (Not only does a competitor face steep chaleneges to running the needed wire, fiber, etc. they also then pay for a connection fee for each call completed by another company. All while the established company builds by raising the rates of subscribers and is not required to pay for a call completion fee.)

Second, it has been long established that allowing a company to sell a product at a loss is bad for the market place. Thus if the true cost of naked DSL is only $1 less then bundled, then the established company is selling at a loss to preent compitition. Not only does this lead to higher pricing in the long run, it also encourages corrupt organizations.

I think it is already time for a SEC investigation into ATT to determine if it is abusing its monopoly power.

Jamie says:

I want naked DSL

For all thos telecos that say there is no market for naked DSL. Your wrong. There is a market, but you don’t want to push it. You know that if you tell the customers they have to buy your bundled products(phone service) to get DSL they will buy them because they have no alternative. I live in a community that has no cable. My only option is DSL. I have no desire to have a home phone, but I was forced to buy one when I got DSL service. Guess what? I don’t use it. I don’t even have a phone plugged into any of the jacks in my house. It’s not that I have anything against a home phone. I just don’t need it.

So if they offered me the option of getting rid of it and its cost, I would jump at it.

haywood says:

What's the point

I could never use VIOP dependably with DSL anyhow. I don’t know about anyone’s other than my own service, but my Verizon DSL reboots at least 4 times a day with periods of practically no throughput preceding the reboot. I never understood why, till I read previous discussions on this topic, now I think it is deliberate, on command from the server, or at a specific throughput count, to discourage VIOP. I can’t at this time get cable or I’d drop DSL like a hot potato.

david says:

Enter the World Code please

geez.. with all the infighting over “Naked DSL” and cable and telco’s lying about pricing and aristocrats getting the most bandwidth.. i am reminded of the movie “Escape from LA” and how nice it would be to shut the earth down and go back to the dark ages and rebuild everything 🙂

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Welcome to the human race”

Texas Bob says:

Why doesn't TechDIrt believe in open markets?

I to wanted naked DSL but SBC (now AT&T) said it was not offered. Their agent did slip and told me there was a “basic” phone service for about $4.95 a month. It includes only 28 outgoing calls per month, additional call are 8 cents and there is no long distance plan. You still get the DSL at the discounted price.

Shubie says:


Homeplug Powerline Alliance

I hope it works. My sis is only 8 miles from town and dial-up is the only thing available.

Competition. I lived in a small Kansas town when cable net rolled out. The local dial-up provider hurredly placed a wireless antenna on the water tower and advertised wireless net at like $50 or $75 a month plus the $300 or so to come hook it up. It was too little too late. That dial-up provider no longer exists. Dog eat dog.

Chris says:

Naked DSL

I have been extremely lucky with my area. I live near a major junction of telco’s so I have been able to get decent service for quite a while. I am currently using what is locally referred to as DSL2 where I get 5mb service for 39.95 **”Naked” DSL for 39.95** This is only because this company covers the majority of my state. They are offering VOIP as well and are working pretty well faced with the compition of 4 major telcos and 1 cable company. The cable company still requires service for thier “cable internet” and the telco’s all charge a HIGH premium unless you minimum get thier 400 call service. Free market does exist out there but if the companies didn’t get out there early and keep up on techology they quickly loose out. I pay slight more for my internet for “Non-lineshare” but I don’t mind that because I don’t have to contend with the telco crap. I have a VERY nice reliable high speed connect EVEN when I hear my friends complaining that SBC is down or Comcast is screwing up again, and I don’t have to pay $50 plus a month to get it. Encourage your local providers, support them even if they are a little more expensive and suddenly the big providers will start to take notice.

JohnC says:

Why can't people understand...

What I can’t figure out is why don’t people understand that businesses, all businesses, are not after what is in the consumer’s best interest.

They will lie, cheat, steal, and do as many unethical/immoral things (though maybe not illegal) as they can because no one holds them accountable.

As long as people continue to buy their services, and almost everyone can do without a phone or dsl…it’s a personal choice to have them, just disconnect yourself from them completely.

After enough people do that, you won’t have this problem anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Response to Mark’s comment (No. 2)

Two very common reasons people are raising more of a fuss is becuase 1) The big telcos are going out of their way to make sure the general public doesn’t know about naked DSL. 2) People in heavily populated areas just assume there “is always another option. That is not so. I live on the eastern coast of NC and there is only one option for DSL, Sprint. No Roadrunner, No Verizon, no one else. The only other option would be satellite and most of the time the equipment setup for that is pretty expensive. (About 1 year ago Directv’s satellelite DSL equipment costs $600 and that doesnt count the monthly DSL charge). And to add insult to injury Sprunt DSL has only been available in my area for about a year and its still not available to everyone here.

And about Wild Blue:

We are sorry but you happen to be in one of the very few zip codes where we are not able to offer service due to the reach of our satellite.

Please add your name to our registration form and we’ll notify you when WildBlue service is available in your area.

The Zip Code you entered: 27824

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Greg Andrew says:

I’ll once again note that Verizon offers naked dsl in my area and has for some time. It’s more expensive than DSL for folks with phone lines, but it’s way less than cable companies charge for internet access if you don’t subscribe to cabl

I think the monopoly/oligoby status the telephone companies have in the U.S. is awful, but in this case it’s just counter-factual to say taht Verizon doesn’t offer naked dsl, when it does in a lot of places these days.

freakengine says:

For the record, I have Pacbell/SBC/ATT DSL service, and I would prefer naked DSL over having to pay for a phone line I never (EVER) use. Now, if I could just get something other than Adelphia cable service in my area, I’d jump ship to cable in a heartbeat. I’m just hoping the Callifornia legislature follows through on their passage of the bill that allows cable companies to be without competition.

loikll says:

No free market economist ever claimed that a free market works well when there’s NO COMPETITION among suppliers. Competition is part and parcel of a successful free market. *Of course* a monopoly company will try to screw you — Adam Smith himself would’ve told you that.

Of course the lack of competition also has its roots in regulatory regimes and revenue-generating municipal franchises. I can’t just go out and start laying cable to people’s houses, can I?

My pipe dream is state and local laws mandating that any telco laying a network at all has to lay 3 cables, everywhere, right up to the house, for three providers to duke it out.

Meanwhile I’m about to move into an apartment complex that was stupid enough to sign a contract making AT&T it’s single-source provider of phone, cable TV, and Internet. (“We’re trying to get out of the contract…”) So I won’t even enjoy a duopoly any more.

I may really, really regret that! (But it’s got a garage!)

John says:

_Natural_ Monopolies

While I agree with the tone of most of the responses to the “open market” suggestion it is worth noticing that both sides seem to agree that the teleco monopoly is something that the bad ole goberment did to us.

‘Tain’t so. Teleco is arguably a “natural monopoly.” Natural monopolies certianly exist–think the water utility. Natural monopolies exist in any “market” where the cost of the infrastructure borne by the provider is so large and the cost of the “product” so low that there exists no credible possibility that a competitor could enter the market successfully. –The first to market could lower the price so low that the competitor couldn’t pay for the new delivery infrastrucuture. Even if a new competitor could manage to build and survive it would simply nearly double the price of the product–In the water example the water itself is effectively free. Almost all the cost to the consumer comes from the pipes and treatment. Doubling all that equipment just drives up the price.

So water is a natural monopoly and you never see competing water companies. And if they existed they’d be bad for the communities in which they are found.

Really, we need to get over this shared religion that competition can solve all problems.

It can’t — that’s basic economics –the consequences of the fact that competition isn’t a universal solution can’t be blamed on government regulations.

Sacreligously yours….

Max Power says:

ATT . sbc dsl

Talk about 1984 – these HACKS can break anything you thought was secure, while swalling your pennies, – ultimately – THEY will BE the only service left – the goal – and forgivive you when your raped, hacked and screwed…. but your still left Totally F/////..


watch – The President;s Ankist with James cobern, old but what your dealing with…

Mr. K says:

Cut Your Service If You Only Want ATT DSL

If you only want DSL service from ATT but MUST keep your stupid voice line to get a decent rate, then do the following:

1) Cancel ALL optional packages you might have, such as call forward, caller ID, etc: Saves $4-7 per service month

2) Cancel WirePro service: Saves $4 per month

3) Cancel long distance service: Saves $3 per month

4) Convert plan to Metro Plan ZUM 3: Saves $7 per month

Beat these corrupt, greedy, filty bastards who have bought off legislators at their own game.

Tom says:

Naked DSL

I got a flier from AT&T last week with an offer for DSL service for Cingular customers without purchasing a basic phone service. When I called AT&T they denied that DSL was available without a basic phone service. When I called Cingular they told me I had to go through AT&T even though both Cingular and AT&T are the same company. When I initially called AT&T they suggested ordering over the Internet. I was told it was quicker, easier and that there were promotions available on line that they could not offer over the phone. I thought that was fine. I wouldn’t have to deal with a sales person on commission that insisted in selling me a phone service. I ordered a promotionary DSL service on the Internet. The application insisted that I give a phone number to go to the next step for placing the order. I gave them my cell phone number because I do not have a land line. I placed the order last week. I never received any conformation. When I called AT&T and asked why I have not received any conformation on the order I placed I got the same story. My order can not be processed without purchasing or having an existing land line basic phone service. I’ve spent hours on the Internet and on hold on the phone trying to purchase a service that they advertise as available. Even though Cingular is supposed to be the NEW AT&T there seems to be no integration between them. Each is treated as a separate entity. One contradicts the other. I ran into the same issue when ordering Dish Satellite. AT&T refused to take my order unless I purchased a phone service from them. I ordered the Dish directly from the Dish Web Site. The price was cheaper than the AT&T promotion. Dish told me a phone service for 1 receiver was not necessary. It is apparent to me that AT&T is offering promotions that they will not honor unless they can sell their phone service. Screw them!!!!

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