AT&T -- the telecom near-monopoly everyone loves to hate -- has been making lives miserable on multiple fronts for years now. Locally, on the media front, AT&T was involved in efforts to scuttle local community internet initiatives (including one hack who now works as an advisor to Barack Obama), lobbying against net neutrality (and paying off local politicians to do so), and threatening the very existence of public access channels nationwide. Chicago's dear mayor is the brother of a former CEO of AT&T's predecessor, but that's just a coincidence, I'm sure.
The latest front now involves AT&T-installed eyesores -- technically called VRADs (video ready access devices). You see, in the deployment of AT&T's version of cable TV, the company gambled that they could get away with a cheaper fiber-to-copper installation. The gamble backfired, much to the advantage of companies that did deploy fiber to the household. AT&T has been stuck with their deployment, which is enacted with these giant refrigerator-sized boxes (the VRADs) that are unsightly, noisy, a graffiti magnet, a sinkhole for local property values, and even implicated in explosions. Nevertheless, the big Death Star has been making the best of a bad situation (for them) by using their lobbying muscle (and the state video franchises they've been pushed in dozens of states) to effectively override local sovereignty in the say-so of these eyesores.
These eyesores have seen a backlash as well, including here in the Chicago area. In Evanston, a campaign called Stop the Box has been organizing locally. On September 25, Stop The Box even organized a very lively community meeting in Evanston (with City of Evanston and AT&T representatives attending). CMA members were invited to take part, and we did. The full audio of the hearing -- two hours' worth, divided roughly into half-hour chunks -- is now available in MP3 format (links are below). It's very illuminating to listen to, particularly as to what corporate representatives care about and don't care about.
Evanston/AT&T meeting -- Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
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