Report Charges AT&T Withheld High-Speed Internet From Cleveland Neighborhoods
A nonprofit organization promoting digital literacy accuses a major broadband provider with discriminating against Cleveland’s low-income residents.
Connect Your Community says AT&T has practiced digital redlining for 10 years. The organization writes in a new report that the telecomm company has systematically chosen not to upgrade its equipment for Internet access in almost 2/3 of its service area in Cleveland.
Organization head Bill Callahan says the problem came to light when his group began promoting an AT&T program offering cheap Internet access to folks on food stamps. But potential customers learned their Internet speed wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the discounted rate.
“We started hearing from people being told they were refused because they couldn’t get 3 mbps, which was the threshold for the program. And frankly I was very surprised by that. We started looking at the map and saw a pattern. We ended up getting a concession from AT&T to get access to the service, but we started realizing we were looking at a bigger problem.”
In a written statement, AT&T says the report doesn’t reflect its investment in rural and urban Internet access. “While we are investing in broadband, we’re also investing in technologies that will mitigate some of the infrastructure limitations," the company said.