“First, we’d like to congratulate senior citizen Aaron Epstein, a North Hollywood resident who placed ads in the Wall Street Journal costing $10,000— and through tenacity, (and being pissed off ) — — here is a true David vs Goliath tale — Old guy vs $170 billion dollar AT&T — Old guy wins. Click for Mr. Epstein’s advertisement. See Ars Technica stories for some of the details; picture by Mrs. Epstein.
The Subplot that Is Hidden in Plain Sight
Based on the flurry of articles that followed, it is clear that no one knows that AT&T was supposed to upgrade Los Angeles and CA to fiber, replacing the existing copper wires –starting in the 1990’s, that Epstein and everyone else have been overcharged tens of thousands of dollars over the last 3 decades, that AT&T has no intention of upgrading California with fiber to the home — and worse, AT&T owns/controls the state telecommunications utilities in 21 states — about ½ of America based on population. No one even knows or mentions that AT&T California is public utility — which takes billions per year from California customers and instead of properly upgrading this network, diverts the money to fund its wireless network. This has been going on for decades. In CA, there have been no audits or investigations. AT&T’s grand strategy is to ‘shut off the copper’, — ‘harvest’, meaning continuous rate increases until customers scream uncle or get gouged, then migrate customers to wireless-only services. At the same time they get rid of the unions, and red-line areas to put in fiber only where it is good for show or the company can use it as part of the cover up to get government funding for rural areas — or wireless.
Summing up: Epstein embarrassed AT&T, and they have reacted, but at the same time stuck their 900-pound gorilla foot in its mouth — exposing a massive financial accounting scandal that took the money to be used to upgrade their promised fiber infrastructure for California and spent it on wireless or overseas acquisitions or the purchase of Time Warner, Inc. and DirecTV.
Coincidentally and ironically, the IRREGULATORS filed Comments with the California Broadband Council and the California Public Utilities Commission in December, 2020 — a direct hit, showing AT&T’s dereliction and explaining why Mr. Epstein never got fiber optic services from AT&T over the last 3 decades.
We created the IRREGULATORS, former senior telecom lawyers, experts and auditors from the FCC, attorney general and consumer advocate offices, and independent auditors to take on AT&T et al. as they have overcharged America hundreds of billions of dollars and not only captured the FCC but left a legacy that includes the creation of the Digital Divide.
Before we give 5 shocking facts, let’s get back to the story.
Aaron Epstein has been a very long-time customer of AT&T, since 1960, and lives in North Hollywood, a town filled with technical and creative people who work at Warner Brothers, Universal, and Disney studios.
It was reported that he was paying $110 for 2 copper phone lines, one with DSL, at speeds of 3Mbps, even though other areas have 100 Mbps advertised.
As reported by Ars Technica, after getting national recognition, AT&T, within days, gave him a fiber optic connection at the promotional rate $45.00, eventually going to $65 after one year; this price also leaves out the made up taxes, fees, surcharges and other equipment and additional charges.”