New reports detail AT&T are failing to provide broadband and good jobs

Three new reports released today by the Communications Workers of America, the Economic Policy Institute, and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance describe how profit-driven corporations have left communities without access to next-generation fiber networks and eliminated good jobs, with a spotlight on AT&T.

1. CWA and NDIA: AT&T’s Digital Redlining: Leaving Communities Behind for Profit

AT&T is making the digital divide worse and failing its customers and workers by not investing in crucial buildout of fiber-optic infrastructure that is the standard for broadband networks worldwide. The company's recent job cuts -- more than 40,000 since 2018 -- are devastating communities and hobbling the company's ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure. 

An in-depth analysis of AT&T’s network shows the company has made fiber available to fewer than a third of households in its footprint, halting most residential deployment after mid-2019. The analysis also shows that 28% of households in AT&T’s footprint do not have access to service that meets the FCC’s standard for high-speed internet, and in rural counties 72% of households lack this access. In some places, AT&T is decommissioning its outdated DSL networks and leaving customers with no option but wireless service, which is not a substitute for wireline service. 

CWA recommends that AT&T dedicate a substantial share of its free cash flow to investment in next-generation networks across rural and urban communities, make its low-income product offerings available widely, and stop laying off its skilled, unionized workers and outsourcing work to low-wage, irresponsible subcontractors.

Read the full report here.

2. CWA: AT&T’s Web of Subcontractors: Building Next Generation Networks with Low-Wage Labor

AT&T has used more than 700 contracting companies to construct and maintain its network over the last four years. A survey of 1,500 AT&T technicians conducted by CWA found that most techs who interact regularly with work done by contractors consistently see problems, including quality problems that increase costs, service quality problems for customers, and safety risks for workers and the public.

CWA recommends that AT&T end its relationship with irresponsible contractors and work with CWA to in-source work to its directly employed workforce and that Congress pursue legislative solutions to expand broadband buildout while protecting and expanding good jobs.

Read the full report here.

3. EPI: Decades of slow wage growth for telecommunication workers

A study of wage and employment trends in the telecommunications sector demonstrates that wages have not kept up with productivity increases. Despite four decades of rising skills, wage growth has been slow for the large majority of the workforce -- and has declined in real terms for lower wage telecom workers -- consistently lagging well behind average productivity growth in the economy as a whole. The downward pressure on wages stems from a variety of sources, including extensive outsourcing, or “fissuring,” and the long-term decline in unionization in the industry.

Read the full report here:

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New reports detail how telecom companies like AT&T are failing to provide broadband and good jobs (CWA, Oct. 5, 2020)