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AT&T Shutting Down Its Alaskan WiMAX Service Jan. 31

Phillip Dampier January 24, 2013 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, Internet Overcharging, Rural Broadband, Wireless Broadband 4 Comments

wimaxAT&T’s WiMAX Internet service in Alaska will be switched off Jan. 31, forcing rural Alaskan customers to find an alternative for inexpensive wireless service in areas where DSL or cable broadband is unavailable.

The company stopped signing up new customers last March and has been repeatedly notifying existing customers they will need to find an alternative service soon.

AT&T is shutting off the aging WiMAX network, which delivered up to 2Mbps service at prices starting at around $20 a month, in favor of newer wireless broadband services, including AT&T’s LTE 4G service and Wi-Fi hot spots.

AT&T is recommending customers switch to one of its mobile broadband plans. But WiMAX customers are likely to experience sticker shock when they see the difference in price.

AT&T charges $40 a month for just 1GB of usage plus an additional $20 a month device fee on its Mobile Share Device Data Plan.

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. Scott says:

    AT&T never really tried with the service in Alaska, and crippled it with high prices and bundling of their landline phone long distance in order to get a small discount.

    The first issue was their WiMax towers had poor line of sight to many areas causing low signal strength for prospective or current customers. This caused most customers to either get no signal thus returning the units, or intermittent signals causing lots of packet loss and high latency.

    The second issue was the bundling of AT&T long distance to get a modest discount so your price matched their advertised pricing. This made absolutely no sense in a market where most homes don’t have land lines as they have Smart Phones already with AT&T, ACS, or GCI (BTW a $120+/mo AT&T iPhone didn’t quality for the discount). Plus if anyone already had ACS or GCI with land line phone included for “free” or bundled you could add DSL or Cable Internet from either company with faster speeds for the same amount of money as AT&T’s 3Mbit WiMax.

    If WiMax was done right with 5-15 Mbit speeds, unlimited use, and perfect full strength signals at a affordable prices from $30-100/mo it could have been a viable competitor. There was plenty of interest in Alaska, but AT&T just didn’t seem that interested in making it work or putting any real resources into it.

    It’s one of those projects where you almost question if they wanted it to fail in order to promote their cellular broadband in rural areas agenda which have a much higher profit per customer with the 1Gb @ $15 overage fees.

  2. elfonblog says:

    What a shame. It makes me sad to hear when any presumably remote rural area loses it’s Internet access. Perhaps some folks can form a co-op and buy the Wimax equipment to keep it running. Alternately, the government could buy it as a backup communication system for emergencies, and a primary link for animal tracking and weather and observation stations. Locate those stations at folk’s homes and allow them Internet access for their participation *wink*.

  3. Scott says:

    I found my notes on the AT&T pricing when I looked into it.

    1 Mbit IF you had a lineline and switch to AT&T Long distance was $19.95/mo, otherwise it was $49.95/mo

    2 Mbit was $40.95/mo with AT&T Long distance service, otherwise it was $59.95/mo without.

    They had 3Mbit service available early on but seem to had discontinued it in the last year or two of offering the WiMax service.

    ACS DSL in the area at the time was offered at 1 Mbit for $69/mo (including local phone service), and 3 Mbit for $89/mo. Note that you can now get 10 Mbit from ACS with unlimited usage now for $109/mo.

    The Cable Company GCI was charging aproximately $140.00/mo for their broadband, plus basic cable, which they then later forced a $20+ bundle of local phone service which also added another $10-15 of taxes/fees and was metered like all their plans with only 40Gigs of data at the time.

    To it’s credit the AT&T WiMax service was not metered, but I’m not aware if they did any packet shaping/limits per customers to manage bandwidth, but as I noted above their signal and coverage was horrible so very few people could make use of the service and even then it was too slow for most usage.

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