AT&T rushes to install fiber after 90-year-old’s WSJ open letter goes viral
Cutting corners: If you’ve been wondering what it might take for AT&T to offer high-speed fiber in your neighborhood, one 90-year-old customer found the answer this week: a quarter-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. After paying for ad space to publish his open letter in which he complained about the provider’s 3Mbps DSL, customer Aaron Epstein found that AT&T technicians were rushing to hook his home up to 300Mbps fiber.
Epstein had struggled for some time with shoddy Internet coverage in his North Hollywood home, where he was accessing speeds of “up to” 3Mbps, and had previously found that complaining to AT&T directly didn’t help. That’s when he decided to take a more direct approach, paying $10,000 for a quarter-page ad in the WSJ where he published an open letter to AT&T CEO John T. Stankey. Epstein quickly found that the ad was worth every cent.
I mean how upset one must be, over slow home internet speeds, to pay for a personal quarter-page national ad in print @WSJ pic.twitter.com/Zk9umKD0t1
— Raju Narisetti (@raju) February 3, 2021
News outlets—beginning with Ars Technica—reported on Epstein’s plight, which even got a mention on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. And guess what? Barely a week later, Epstein’s home is connected up to AT&T’s fiber service, with unlimited data and speeds of 300Mbps.
He told Ars, “the AT&T people I talked to tell me that they had to install extra wiring, and it’s costing them thousands and thousands of dollars to put this wiring just for my house because my neighbors still do not have it, and they still have to go to considerable expense to hook up my neighbors.”
Epstein also got a personal call from AT&T’s CEO himself. Stankey explained that Epstein’s neighbors should be able to access fiber in the next year, once the remaining infrastructure has been put in place—although the extent to which AT&T’s actions are based on damage-limitation, rather than actual planned work, is unknown.
It’s a nice end to a fun story, even though countless Americans remain in a similar—or worse—situation. Last year, we told you about the McNamee family in Mississippi who are stuck with 768kbps DSL. To them, even Epstein’s initial 3Mbps would be a dream come true.