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Ed Grochowski

AT&T is Out of Control

Ed Grochowski

Posted 8-5-2014

utility14
Ed's Annual Utility Bill (see notes)

Yet Another Rate Hike

I received the latest bill from AT&T. They have raised the rates again. Over the past five years, my AT&T bill has doubled. Yet, the service has remained exactly the same (landline voice and 768Kbit DSL).

AT&T has been the most expensive utility since 2011. AT&T is well ahead of the next most expensive utilities, electricity and natural gas (PG&E), and water. AT&T positively eclipses the garbage collection company. AT&T's rates are especially outrageous considering that they transmit only information, whereas the other utilities supply energy or transport physical materials.


Regulatory Failure

The difference has been that AT&T has largely decoupled itself from government regulation. For most of its history, landline telephone service was like all other utilities: highly-regulated in exchange for a government-granted monopoly. Unfortunately, during the last decade, the government has taken the attitude that the phone market has sufficient competition, and so regulation is no longer necessary. The result has been disastrous.

Internet service has not been regulated to the same extent, but the problem has been that there are only two providers in my area: the phone company and the cable company. They are like bad and worse. Each company need only be no worse than the other.


It's Your Future

Access to information is a necessity. Unfortunately, with so few providers and no real competition, rates will continue to climb skyward. The government needs to step in and strike a better balance between the information utilities and consumers. It's your future.



Notes

  • Utility bills are measured from the middle of the previous year to the middle of the stated year.
  • My electricity consumption increased by $50/year in 2013 and $100/year in 2014 due to the purchase of a water distiller. Even so, my energy consumption is among the lowest in my neighborhood according to PG&E.
  • AT&T offered a reduced DSL rate up until early 2010 as a provision of government's approval of the merger of AT&T and BellSouth. When AT&T ended the reduced rate, the government did not demand the breakup of AT&T and BellSouth.