AT&T failed to fix Ohio man’s broken Internet service for a month

John Sopko, an Ohio resident, was without his AT&T fixed wireless internet service for a month because the company failed to diagnose and fix the problem. AT&T finally realized this week that the antenna on Sopko's roof was broken and had to be replaced, but not until after a parade of support calls and technician visits.

Sopko said that his girlfriend and her son are Internet users. Sopko said that the son has been at his grandmother's since the outage started. AT&T received US government funding to deploy service in the area where Sopko's house is located.

The service stopped working on October 30. He called AT&T's service phone number and followed directions to restart the modem. That did nothing, so AT&T sent a technician to Sopko's home in Akron, but the tech just repeated the steps that Sopko had already taken, according to the report.

Sopko said that he turned everything off and plugged it back in. No connection.
On Nov. 8, AT&T sent out a second technician. Sopko said that he did the same thing. He said it was an engineering problem and would send an email.

There was no explanation from AT&T.

Sopko called AT&T again a couple of days after the second technician visit because he didn't hear back from the company. He told the newspaper that they said it would be back up in a couple of hours.

Sopko said he had to chase them down again because AT&T didn't call him back after the service didn't come back online. He was able to schedule a technician appointment. He received another text that confirmed his appointment for Nov. 26. An appointment was made for 2 pm to 4 pm. Sopko said he might not have responded in time, so a new appointment was set for December 3.

The report continued.

Sopko called the service line again. He told the representative that he didn't want to be mean to them. This has been going on for 28 days. Why?
The representative couldn't give a solid answer, which frustrated Sopko even more. He said he was buying a product that he couldn't use. Tell me that lightning hit a tower.


The government funding for AT&T.

On Tuesday, Sopko was contacted by an AT&T rep, and the company sent a more advanced technician to his house on Wednesday. The antenna was replaced after the technician found it wasn't working.

The company had installed a fixed wireless unit about a year and a half before. The units are used in areas where cable lines are not in place.

AT&T received $428 million from the Federal Communications Commission for seven years starting in 2015 to deploy 10Mbps Internet using fixed wireless technology to 1.1 million homes and small businesses in Ohio. It's not clear if Sopko's home is counted in that deployment, but his address on East Voris Street is very close to other properties where the FCC map shows subsidized deployment by AT&T.

AT&T is still trying to figure out what happened.

Sopko received a bill on Tuesday for a month's service he didn't get, but later received bill credits and a gift card for his troubles. The newspaper was told by AT&T that Mr. Sopko's internet service was restored.

We asked AT&T why it took a month to diagnose and fix the problem. The company said it is looking into the matter.

"This is not an acceptable customer experience and did not meet our expectations for how we serve our customers," AT&T told Ars today. We apologized to Mr. Sopko and credited his account. We are looking at this case to figure out what happened and prevent it from happening again.