Part 3: AT&T 5G Wireless Bait & Switch: Because It Makes AT&T More Money.

Bruce Kushnick
7 min readOct 3, 2018


FULL REPORT 5: 5G: The Wireline-Wireless Bait & Switch: Because It Makes Them More Money.

  • PART 3: AT&T


We will focus on the fact that AT&T had commitments to offer broadband to 100% of their 22 state territories by 2007 based on the AT&T-BellSouth merger. This is on top of all of the other ‘state-based’ and previous merger commitments. However, later statements detail that AT&T failed to upgrade about 25% of their territories. AT&T then claimed it would be using wireless because it wasn’t economical to do the build outs. Even as part of the IP Transition Trials, AT&T’s plans were to substitute the existing wired networks with inferior wireless service, and it even throws in the DirecTV satellite services.

1) AT&T: AT&T-BellSouth Merger Required 100% of 22 States to have Broadband; 15% with Wireless.

AT&T, in 2006, claimed that it would be offering 100% coverage of broadband in 22 states, based on the AT&T-BellSouth deal. Albeit slow, this merger agreement condition claimed that it would fulfill their obligations by having 15% be WiMax or satellite or fixed wireless service.

The actual text from the AT&T-BellSouth merger agreement

And AT&T signed documents that they had completed their commitments.

2) AT&T-DirecTV merger claimed that 15 million customers in the AT&T territories were not served.

The AT&T-Direct TV merger press release of May 19th, 2014 claimed that a major reason for the merger was that it would bring broadband to 15 million customers in AT&T’s territories that did not have high-speed service.

“15 Million Customer Locations Get More High Speed Broadband Competition. AT&T will use the merger synergies to expand its plans to build and enhance high-speed broadband service to 15 million customer locations, mostly in rural areas where AT&T does not provide high-speed broadband service today, utilizing a combination of technologies including fiber to the premises and fixed wireless local loop capabilities.”

If AT&T was already supposed to have 100% completed, how could 15 million locations — at least 20% of all AT&T areas, not already have had high-speed broadband?

3) AT&T’s “VIP” Announcement Shows that 25% May Never Have Been Upgraded with Broadband.

Second Source: In AT&T’s 2013 announcement of its “VIP plan”, AT&T claimed that it would have 75% of their territories covered with wireline broadband networks by the end of 2015.

“AT&T plans to expand and enhance its wireline IP network to 57 million customer locations (consumer and small business) or 75 percent of all customer locations in its wireline service area by year-end 2015.”

25% of it would be wireless because it was not ‘economically feasible’ to build this IP broadband network.

“In the 25 percent of AT&T’s wireline customer locations where it’s currently not economically feasible to build a competitive IP wireline network, the company said it will utilize its expanding 4G LTE wireless network — as it becomes available — to offer voice and high-speed IP Internet services.”

Do the Math: It’s Ugly.

AT&T had 76 million ‘locations’ according to their own statements. (Note: If 75% equals 57 million then 100% is 76 million.) AT&T would have a total of 33 million locations by the end of 2015 — which meant that AT&T would still only have about 40% of their 22 states covered with TV competition or very high-speed broadband. And it also states that 25% would ever get properly upgraded — and this obviously was the case in the year 2007.

4) The AT&T IP Transition Was a Con Job from the Start — to Push Customers onto Wireless, Their Wireless, and Remove Regulations.

In 2014, AT&T filed with the FCC to convert the working basic phone lines (TDM) with the new, shiny “IP” protocol service, and the company stated it would be doing “IP Transition trials”. They were a failure, except when it comes to AT&T using this to get rid of basic regulations.

Basic Points: By the End of the Trials, Circa 2016–2017

  • AT&T wireless replacement for a landline is called “Wireless Home Phone” — and it can’t do IP and it can’t handle basic data applications, like alarm services.
  • The numbers are terrible — AT&T lost 32% of the ‘legacy telephone customers’ and even with new “IP” customers, it lost approximately 15% of the entire original client base.
  • The company after spending millions in each location, manipulated the stats for a “Happy Face”, and the information has been redacted. This data should be public.

This is still very important because the FCC claims this was successful and it is basing some of the current proceedings on this ‘success’.

This next chart was in the original AT&T filing for Carbon Hill, Alabama, a small rural town. 100% of the AT&T customers that had regular ‘wired’ services would have their working wires ‘shut off’’. The target was to have the majority, 55% of the customers, move onto wireless, while the ‘wired’ services would be replaced with U-Verse, which is a copper-to-the-home service that uses the existing copper, (but is magically reclassified; the ‘fiber optic’ part of this equation are the wires that go to a ‘node’, somewhere within the neighborhood.)

And in this case, there were 4% of the customers that the company would not reach at all; “TBD” — to be determined. This also proves that the AT&T-BellSouth merger never had 100% of customers upgraded to broadband in 2007.

5) Even the “Wireless Home Phone” — (VoiceLink) Chart is Deceptive.

But this is all pure snake oil, even in the details of AT&T’s IP Transition Trial documents, AT&T clearly doesn’t believe in telling the truth. This chart shows that AT&T, for their Wireless Home Phone product, had essentially given a totally false collection of answers that is exposed when one reads the fine print. (Notice that there are asterisks on almost every ‘Yes’ answer.) If this chart looks familiar it should — it was identical to Verizon’s’ Voice Link applications’ chart.

Here are the notes for this chart — Nothing was truthful.

“Notes a-h: Currently, Wireless Home Phone and Wireless Home Phone and Internet, which are CMRS, comply with the Commission’s existing 911 requirements for CMRS, and do not provide E-911 with street address. Nor does Wireless Home Phone and Wireless Home Phone and Internet currently support alarm monitoring, medical alert and credit card validation applications. However, AT&T currently is developing enhancements that will provide all of these applications which we plan to introduce in the [CONFIDENTIAL -NOT FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE].

“Notes i-j: 800 number service is not supported by Wireless Home Phone/Wireless Home Phone and Internet for consumer customers.
Notes k-m: U-verse Voice, Wireless Home Phone and Wireless Home Phone and Internet do not support collect calling.”

NOTICE: “…which we plan to introduce in the [CONFIDENTIAL -NOT FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE].”

As of October 1st, 2018, the AT&T web information claims it has the same technology shortfalls and thus, is not an alternative to a wired phone line for E911 or the use of alarm services, etc.

“Wireless Internet device required. For emergency calls, provide your location address to 911 operator. Wireless Internet device has backup battery to operate during power outage. However, a cordless phone connected to the Wireless Internet device will not operate (incl. 911) during power outage. To use backup battery power, you must plug a corded phone into the Wireless Internet device. Corded or other landline home phone equip. and internet-capable devices not incl. Provides voice & wireless data svc. Not compatible w/ wireless messaging svcs, security systems, fax services, med. alert & monitoring systems, credit card machines, IP/PBX Phone systems, or dial-up Internet svc. May not be compatible with DVR/Satellite systems, please check with your provider.”

6) Wireless Government Subsidies in “Unserved Areas”.

In 2015, Seeking Alpha story detailed that AT&T would be getting an additional almost $3 billion in government subsidies to build out rural unserved areas with broadband — which was now, again, a wireless replacement.

“AT&T’s accepted $428M per year of Connect America Funding (Phase II) over six years, with an option on a seventh — meaning almost $3B in subsidies it could receive to provide rural broadband in underserved areas…. As with the other recipients of the second tranche of funds, the company’s committing to provide 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps up — in its case, for more than 2.2M people across 18 states.”

And yet, in September 2017 Ars Technica revealed that only 1.1 million customers were going to be given services for the $3 billion.

“AT&T got nearly $3 billion federal subsidy to connect 1.1 million rural customers.”

“The 1.1 million customers is also a far cry from the amount that AT&T said its fixed wireless service might cover a few years ago. In 2014, AT&T said that in order to get its DirecTV merger approved, it would commit to bringing “fixed wireless local loop broadband to 13 million new customer locations, largely in underserved, rural locations” within four years of the merger closing. About 85 percent of those 13 million wireless locations would have been outside AT&T’s traditional wireline telephone territory; the deadline for that commitment would have been July 2019.”

And it gets worse as the speed is only 10Mbps down, 1Mbps up.

AT&T spent $133 billion dollars — $48 billion on DirecTV and $85 billion on Time Warner, but in 21 states (selling off CT) it has not been able to properly upgrade the state utility over decades and made the rural areas ‘unprofitable’.

5G, in this context, is just another con, another bait-and-switch, to get rid of the remaining state utility laws and obligations, as well as preempting state’s rights.

It is not about new technologies and the public’s interests.



Bruce Kushnick

New Networks Institute,Executive Director, & Founding Member, IRREGULATORS; Telecom analyst for 40 years, and I have been playing the piano for 65 years.