Friday, April 28, 2017

ATT: the Penultimate Straw

Thirteen years ago we had decent diversification in our communications providers: DirecTV for television, SBC for WiFi and landline, and Sprint for wireless. In 2007 we moved the wireless to AT&T, which was the only carrier that could carry the iPhone initially.

SBC/ATT went on an acquisition binge--its latest being DirecTV in 2015---and now provides all four of our services (wireless, landline, TV, and WiFi). Like clockwork AT&T jacks up prices annually, but just below the pain point for switching. We now pay a total of $500 a month, about 50% higher than for the same services five years ago (worse than it sounds because the DSL is appallingly slow while the competition has raced ahead).

The pain point was reached when AT&T today sent out emails to customers who have a grandfathered unlimited data plan for the iPad; the unlimited status is essentially being eliminated on May 24, 2017. (This affects one member of our household.)

In 2017 Mickey still worked
In the next month we will take up Comcast on its offer to provide TV and WiFi for $69.99 per month, more than a $100 per month savings over DirecTV and AT&T's snail-like DSL. The big switcheroo will come this fall when the new iPhone comes out. Four lines will move to Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile, and AT&T will lose our $300-per-month cellphone (it was $200 a few years ago) account.

I'll still keep the AT&T landline. Old-fashioned single-purpose phones still operate on it, and because it has a separate power source the landline may still work when cell, WiFi, and electrical services are out, another instance of diversification lowering risk.

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