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6 Messages

Thursday, November 25th, 2021 10:53 PM

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AT&T is charging extra to spy on our home network, and blocks us from using any alternative!

Dear AT&T,


I am outraged by your assault on personal privacy and the free and open Internet. Maybe you think you're helping people with att.com/SmartHomeManager but it is an unwelcome invasion that goes against the core principles of privacy and freedom. It's a big step for totalitarian control of the Internet and every thing on it, as AT&T gains unfettered access to every packet coming from every device on the network.


The Internet was made for everyone, not for you to control. As a service provider, we want you to help us participate in the Internet that was designed to be free and open for all. You should do this by letting OUR home networks talk to OTHER networks. That's what Inter-net means, since you've apparently forgotten: WE have our network, and you simply connect us with other networks as we request them, BY ADDRESS. Your role as an ISP is for Wide Area Network interconnect, *not* Local Area Network (LAN) control.


We do NOT want you stepping into and onto our network, establishing your "Gateway" Router as King of the LAN, set up to spy on our home, gathering data on every request from every device. In particular, the policy of *requiring* us to use your router is unacceptable! To preserve our own privacy, we want to use our own router, and ONLY our own router.


If we could control our own network and simply connect to AT&T's *modem* -- then this would solve the secondary problem of being forced to use your DNS servers. Your router is the only one I've ever seen that makes it impossible to change the DNS servers, they are *locked* to AT&T DNS server addresses. Of course we know this means you can log every name address translation, a huge violation of privacy. The fact that we have no choice to use a different provider is a massive violation of our basic rights and erodes the founding principles of the Internet!


Your practice is anti-competitive and discourages other companies from providing a variety of routers with options capable of serving the needs of consumers on their home networks. We want a fair and healthy ecosystem of *choice* for home network components. We want control of our own networks and our own personal information.


Adding insult to injury, I see an extra $10 equipment charge on my bill every month for this router that we are forced to use! I am starting here on your forums to give you a chance to correct these totally unacceptable policies! For now I am tolerating the extra complexity of putting my own router behind yours, but this is NOT a solution. If you don't step back to the modem and restore consumer control of home networks by allowing us to choose our own equipment, I will be switching off AT&T and speaking out to many others to encourage them to do the same.


As a starting gesture, you can stop charging us the extra $10 per month for your spyware router!

Mentor

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98 Messages

2 years ago

Otto, please see my response to Juniper.   Fanboy is a little strong, but the dismissiveness of some of the replies is disheartening.

The “don’t use the service” and “go elsewhere” responses are not recognizing how service agreements are doled out to these ISPs.  Competition between them is minimal in most places, and doing without is not practical these days.   Internet access is an essential utility now, and should be officially recognized and operated as such, but lobbying by these same service providers has so far prevented that from happening.

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

2 years ago

@monfster If you were around back in the Ma Bell days when she was broken up into 8 “baby bells”, the competition between them was actually a good thing for awhile. But, as expected, that slowly changed to favor the provider monopolies to where we are now. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc with overlapping services. They can do whatever they want with very little concern for the customer. We mention switching providers because that’s all you can really do, and you may find one that is a better fit. 

As far as spying on us, one needn’t look any further than Google. It’s up to AT&T to decide how to offer their service and whether the customer has to “rent” AT&T’s equipment or not. Comcast’s policy is to allow the customer to use their own equipment with no rental fee. So, there are choices. As far as spying, meh. AT&T, imo, should have stayed a cellular provider but they probably wouldn’t have been able to survive.

Mentor

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98 Messages

2 years ago

Thanks for the response.  I never claimed AT&T was spying on us, that was the OP, if I recall.   AT&T is simply collecting information to sell, which is within their purview (at this time, anyway).   Their may be choices in your area, most live in an area with no choices.  Where I am, in a neighborhood in Fort Worth, TX, we only have Frontier available.

I’m just surprised at the reaction this guy got - reading it, I’m surprised no one gave him a useful solution, like IP passthrough from the gateway to a router that he could configure the DNS servers on.   That’s fairly easily done and would address his complaint about not being able to configure DNS.

I remember the breakup - I was a telcomm/network administrator at a manufacturing firm that was located in Humboldt County, CA.   One of my first foibles was switching to an aggregator that used Sprint.   What we didn’t realize was that Sprint only had one fiber line up to the North Coast, and one day a train derailed and broke the fiber.   The aggregator had turned of 10xxx dialing to use a different long distance provider in emergencies, and we ended up being without any long distance lines, which was a problem in a firm that used CS agents to communicate with our resellers.  Good times.

(edited)

ACE - Expert

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24.5K Messages

2 years ago

IP Passthrough is doable with the AT&T gateway so one can use a better router but AT&T will still charge the rental fee.

I didn’t mean to imply that you were making the claim of spying, but that was part of this thread so I included that in my response. Sorry for any confusion.

ACE - Guru

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9.9K Messages

2 years ago

@monfster   You make some very valid points and thanks for taking up the challenge to balance things out in this thread. 

But I would differ about ACEs (as differentiated from AT&T employees who aren't identified as ACEs).  I can't think of any that are active in the forums I frequent that toe the company line, in fact, quite the opposite.  By accepting an invitation to help out here it's made very clear that we can say whatever we want about AT&T.  Before I became an ACE a few months ago I had been pretty outspoken about the policies, the service and the equipment so I was somewhat surprised at being asked.  Nothing's really changed since then, I still have the same issues and speak out against them when necessary.  However I also defend AT&T when it's necessary and they are unfairly accused.

What I think happened here in this thread is that the whole tone of the first post made it clear (at least to me) that the OP wasn't here for help, he was here to send a message to AT&T (which is actually funny since this is primarily a customer-to-customer forum) and get things off his chest.  We see so many of this type of post where people rant and threaten to take their business elsewhere that, frankly, the initial reaction is just "fine, you hate it here, go someplace that you don't hate, I'm here to help people who ask for help".  

Anyway, I've rambled on far too long. Thanks again for your contributions to this thread and for making us more aware of what and how we say things.

ACE - Expert

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32.3K Messages

2 years ago

@monfster 

I am not a fanboy/girl or defender of AT&T. Certainly did not mock the OP as you claim (yes others were a bit snarky with their posts, but I was not one of them). All I did was point out that though we agree it is a practice that is anti-customer, it is within AT&T's right and is not something to be surprised about long after you've had service.

So please do not group all posters together because of the issues you have with some of them.

Go with a different ISP or not using the service are the options. You may not like it, but it is the reality of the situation. I do understand that ISP choices can be limited in some areas, but it still doesn't invalidate my point. You either deal with the options that are available, regardless of how much you like it, or do without.

Mentor

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98 Messages

2 years ago

I believe I apologized to you, personally, in my response to your other post 3 hours ago, Juniper.

ACE - Expert

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32.3K Messages

2 years ago

I do thank you for that. I just needed to say my peace at that point.

The OP has a legitimate complaint regarding the Gateway required use and charge. The IP passthrough option only allows you to use your preferred router. The Gateway still must be used for the modem portion and nothing gets you out of paying for it.

It is when people make comments like they have some sort of hold over a company is where we see some ridiculousness, such as OP saying the following.

I am starting here on your forums to give you a chance to correct these totally unacceptable policies!

As I (respectfully) pointed out in an earlier post, that is more like a parent talking to a child or teacher to a student. Even if they called AT&T for official support, instead of a public forum, that statement would not have carried any additional weight.

So many of us agree with initial grievance, but there just is nothing that can be done other than go elsewhere or nowhere at all. We don't like it, but that is what we can do.

Mentor

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98 Messages

2 years ago

Sorry, I found the whole rant hilarious, but for some reason the “if you don’t like it, go elsewhere” responses got under my skin.

Nicer to just say “Sir, this is an Arby’s”, IMHO.

ACE - Expert

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27.9K Messages

2 years ago

I will remind you all of The Golden Rule: 

He who has the gold makes the rule.

And with that, I bid you adieu.  😘

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