I will now tell you a true story of technology in the San Francisco Bay Area. It applies to most places in the United States.
I know that I will soon be allowed to buy gigabit fiber. I know this because I talked to some workman with a large communications truck over one month ago. They told me that they were placing the physical fiber for AT&T and their work would soon be complete.
I think this is fantastic. I will finally get Gigabit Fiber. It will be goodbye Comcast-Xfinity. This will be wonderful.
I check my address online for availability. My address still says no fiber is available.
I call AT&T customer service over a month ago. They have no record that fiber will be available to my address in their database. Certain things take time. I know it is happening because it has been physically placed.
I call customer service two weeks ago. Now, my address comes up in the database for eventual fiber. There are other network configurations and testing needed. There is no date for when it will be available to order, but the ballpark is two months. This is still wonderful.
I ask if I can pre-order? No.
I ask if I can register for an email or text notification of availability? No.
Ma Bell and Snail Mail
The only means of notification will be when they send out paper flyers to our physical mailbox to our neighborhood. We can then call and ask for a salesman. I do not need a sales call. I am ready to buy.
AT&T was known as Ma Bell for perhaps 100 years. Younger people may not be aware of this because AT&T was split into AT&T and the baby bells back in 1984. The smaller companies were Verizon and the other regional phone companies. There have been mergers and moves to mainly focus on cellular phones, data and content. Pre-1984, all phone service of any kind in the USA was from AT&T.
I now await snail mail from Ma Bell for my notice of gigabit fiber internet availability.
Still Better than Comcast
This is still far better than Comcast-Xfinity. Comcast rebranded itself Xfinity. They did this because Comcast has terrible customer service. I recently had to try to get an admin password reset with Comcast. It was not residential or business but National Accounts – teleworker (ie work from home for a big company). For various reasons, this took two to three hours a day for three days. Even getting to the correct department would involve waiting for 20-30 minutes at a time and being transferred to wrong departments around the world. I could recognize the different national accents at the different call centers.
The first day it was multiple transfers and waits until they told me the correct department was closed.
The second day it was multiple transfers and again not reaching the correct department.
The various departments could not provide a direct call in number to the correct department. If they could it would have been the wrong number.
AT&T is better than Comcast, but the bar is very low.
It is Tough to Kill the Past
I am a futurist but I have worked in big corporations and dealt with actually technological implementations. We can have both better technology and 100-year-old business processes. It happens now and it can still happen 30 years from now.
We have solar power and it is less than 2% of world electricity. Coal is still at about 40% of world electricity. Coal has been dominant from the 1800s. Coal is burnable dirt. Almost every country has burnable dirt. Over a hundred years of Oil could not kill coal. Oil is burnable liquid. Natural gas is making progress reducing coal in the USA. Natural gas is burnable air.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.