Ever since 2010 when Google announced their plans to begin rolling out Google Fiber in the Kansas City area I was ready to drop my slow and inconsistent ‘broadband’ for a solid internet connection. Unfortunately, it has taken 6 years for that reality to come to fruition and for a good portion of that time I’ve felt stuck with AT&T.
The last time I had the need to pick an internet company, I was given two options. The first was Time Warner Cable, who I had already dropped a long time ago due to bad customer service. The second was AT&T, who some people in my family still affectionately refer to as Ma Bell. Since, as an adult, I had never actually had any services through AT&T and I was still sore at Time Warner I decided to give it a shot. So after using up all my anytime minutes in a month trying to convince them I could get broadband service (they had fiber in my backyard), I finally landed with AT&T.
It didn’t take me long to be ready to switch. The location that they wired us up for internet and put their horrible wireless router was in the very depths of our basement. So many devices throughout our house fell prey to poor signal strength. This was alleviated some by using our own wireless router but eventually we had to run wires to different parts of the house to meet our needs. The service was adequate but we did have quite a few outages. If outages weren’t enough we were then hit with the veiled threat of a $99 fee to have a technician come out if the issue wasn’t on their end.
Then came the ray of sunshine. Google Fiber announced plans to expand to our area of town. This made me immensely happy, but I still knew it would be more than a year at least until it became a reality. During my wait AT&T tried their hardest to make sure I would stay with them as a customer and began offering their own Gigabit service called GigaPower.
GigaPower was available immediately since they already had Fiber Optics in my backyard, just needed the equipment in my house. It was also priced the same as what Google Fiber was charging for their service. However, during sign up, I noticed one small catch when agreeing to all the terms of service. One of the check boxes read “Consent to AT&T Internet Preferences” which spoke of a discount applied to the price.
Turns out this discount you received was in exchange for AT&T using your search terms and web history to send you advertising offers tailored to what you do online. I’m not sure where the ‘preference’ is here, other than it being AT&T’s preference to make as much money off of you as possible. Unfortunately, there was little information on how or what information they collected, how long they kept it or who they share it with. So after a long chat with an AT&T customer service representative I still had many unresolved questions about my privacy.
So, you would think that it would just be easy to opt out of this right? While opting in is easy, as all you have to do is check a checkbox during checkout, opting out was much more difficult to find. It was buried as a separate link on the offer page and then came with the additional cost of $30/mo for the service and the $99 installation fee was not waived. Rather than pay the ridiculous surcharge and keep my privacy intact we decided GigaPower was not for us.
You would think that would be the end of it, right? I decided not to get faster internet from AT&T and would just continue to wait patiently for Google Fiber, but that wasn’t the case. In May I received an email from AT&T stating that they were updating their Internet Usage Allowances. And by updating they meant they were adding them to U-Verse when they used to be only on DSL before even if their handy infographic made it seem otherwise.
Now the caps were fairly high, 600 GB for the speed I was on, but I work from home and have 4 children who love streaming videos online because we don’t have cable television. I really didn’t want to have to find out the hard way how much data we might actually use in a month. There were two ways to get unlimited data. The first way was to become a DirectTV or U-Verse TV subscriber and the second was to pay them an additional $30/mo for unlimited data. Both designed as ways to suck more money out of you as a customer.
Thankfully, before a full billing cycle had gone through with AT&T’s new data allowances, Google Fiber was ready to be installed. So now I’m on Google Fiber for internet and don’t have to worry about my privacy being sold or data caps. Not to mention their equipment is much better (stronger wifi) than what AT&T gave us.