AT&T’s decision to stop selling legacy DSL service – the sort that uses 1990s technology and rides on regulated phone lines – affects 547,000 Californians, 1.4% of the state’s population. 67,000 of them will completely lose the ability to buy residential wireline broadband service from a commercial provider. Rural counties will be hit hard, with Tuolumne County taking the stiffest punch: 3.4% of its population will no longer be able to get wireline broadband service at any speed. Those that have it can keep it for now, but no one can buy it any longer. The full table is below.
These numbers are based on the most recent broadband service reports published by the California Public Utilities Commission, which are current as of 31 December 2018. The reports filed by AT&T show that legacy DSL service is its only wired broadband offering in 6,600 census blocks with a total population of 547,000 people. However, people living in most of those blocks can get broadband service from a cable company or an independent fiber to the premise provider.
Subtract them out, and there are 67,000 people in 1,300 census blocks in California where AT&T is pulling the plug on new customers with no cable company or independent wireline ISP to fill the gap. A few of those census blocks could be split between AT&T and another telco, so the actual number of people affected might be a bit lower. But not by much.
AT&T reports providing broadband service in 52 of California’s 58 counties. It has legacy DSL systems in 43 counties. The nine fully upgraded counties include several rural ones where AT&T has a minimal presence – e.g. Plumas County where it serves a single census block – or where independent rural telephone companies, such as Pinnacles Telephone in San Benito County, serve the remotest areas.
About half of the soon-to-abandoned census blocks are outside of an incorporated city or an unincorporated “census designed place”, which usually means the area is rural. The remaining half includes many unincorporated rural communities as well.
Californians losing access to AT&T wireline broadband service
|County||Total people served by AT&T||People losing AT&T wireline service||People with no wireline alternative due to AT&T DSL cutoff||% of population with no wireline service due to AT&T DSL cutoff|
|San Luis Obispo||210,845||39,685||9,319||3.3%|