AT&T is still one of the largest Internet providers in America, and it recently announced it was discontinuing its oldest broadband technology. On October 1, AT&T stopped selling DSL connections leaving some existing subscribers on the low-speed service and new residents of areas only covered by DSL without broadband access.
An AT&T statement confirmed that it was beginning to phase out “outdated services like DSL” and new orders for the service were no longer supported after the beginning of October. AT&T did note that current DSL subscribers would be able to continue their service or, when possible, upgrade to the 100 percent fiber network it offers.
The state of broadband service in the US is woefully behind many other major developed nations, particularly Japan. Many people in the US make do with very slow speeds that can hardly be considered broadband, and many communities, particularly those in rural areas, are entirely without broadband service. Closing the connectivity gap is something that SpaceX hopes to do with its Starlink satellite service being trialed now.
Eventually, SpaceX plans to cover the entire planet in broadband connectivity. AT&T’s DSL service is delivered over outdated copper telephone lines. The fastest connectivity the company sold was 6 Mbps. That speed is less than 25 percent of the 25 Mbps minimum to be considered broadband by the FCC. The service also had miserly data caps of only 150 gigabytes.
Sadly, 6 Mbps Internet connectivity is much better than no Internet connectivity, which is the alternative for many consumers in underserved areas. Rural residents without access to traditional broadband often have to turn to less than ideal services, such as satellite Internet. Often, satellite Internet is slow and, at times, unable to be used for online gaming due to very high ping times.