CLEVELAND - Two organizations that advocate for equal access to the Internet say that AT&T is "redlining" in Cleveland. They say the telecommunications giant is depriving low-income neighborhoods of fiber-enhanced broadband.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) points to data that suggests AT&T has "systematically discriminated against lower-income neighborhoods in its deployment of home internet and video technologies over the past decade."
Together with Connect Your Community (CYC), the NDIA conducted a mapping analysis of Federal Communications Commission broadband availability data.
The organizations say there is "clear evidence" from the FCC shows that AT&T conducted digital redlining, effectively blocking certain neighborhood from access to the level of internet access enjoyed by other communities.
Specifically, their accusations include: Hough, Glenville, Central, Fairfax, South Collinwood, St. Clair-Superior, Detroit-Shoreway, Stockyards, and others.
Responding to News 5's request for a response to the charges, Holly Hollingsworth, a spokesperson for AT&T, stated said the company is continually investing in expanding service and enhancing speed.
"The report does not accurately reflect the investment we've made in bringing faster internet to urban and rural areas across the U.S. While we are investing in broadband, we’re also investing in technologies that will mitigate some of the infrastructure limitations," said Hollingsworth.
According to NDIA and CYC, the six-month effort to analyze FCC data began when they learned residents of many Cleveland neighborhoods did not quality for AT&T’s “Access” discount rate program, apparently because they couldn’t get AT&T connections at the 3 Mbps download speed that was then the program’s minimum requirement.
Hollingsworth told News 5 that AT&T invested nearly $1.5 billion in Ohio wired and wireless networks during 2013-2015, with more than $325 million of that in Cleveland.
Complete response to News 5 by AT&T (Holly Hollingsworth, Senior Public Relations Manager)
"Access to the internet is essential, which is why we've continuously invested in expanding service and enhancing speeds.
The report does not accurately reflect the investment we've made in bringing faster internet to urban and rural areas across the U.S. While we are investing in broadband, we’re also investing in technologies that will mitigate some of the infrastructure limitations.
Some additional information that may provide helpful background: AT&T invested $135 billion in its wireless and wired networks between 2012 and 2016 when you combine capital and acquisitions of wireless spectrum and operations — during this period, AT&T invested more in the U.S. than any other public company.
We are also conducting technology trials over fixed wireless point-to-point mmWave and G.fast technologies to deliver greater speeds and efficiencies within our copper and fiber networks. (In 5g Evolution release from Jan. 4, 2016)
In 2016, we began trialing Fixed Wireless Internet (FWI) service in several states. We plan to begin offering FWI in mid-2017 in areas where we accepted FCC Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) support. We expect to reach more than 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 across the 18 states where we accepted CAF II funds, most of which will get internet access for the first time. By the end of 2020, we plan to reach 1.1 million locations in those 18 states. (In 5g Evolution release from Jan. 4, 2016)
We’ve invested nearly $1.5 billion in our Ohio wireless and wired networks during 2013-2015, with more than $325 million of that in Cleveland."