Dr. Brian Whitacre is a professor in the Agricultural Economics Department of Oklahoma State University who specializes in research on broadband access and use. This work was performed as an independent project and does not reflect the opinions of Oklahoma State University.
In 2017 Dr. Whitacre was approached by Attorney Daryl Parks, who was preparing to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission based on NDIA’s study of AT&T’s Digital Redlining of Cleveland. Parks asked Dr. Whitacre to conduct an expert assessment of NDIA’s Cleveland research and provide sworn testimony about his findings, which he did. (His assessment, which replicated and confirmed NDIA’s analysis, was submitted as part of Parks’ complaint, which can be downloaded at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1092355565047.)
Parks also asked Dr. Whitacre to conduct a similar analysis of AT&T broadband services in Dallas County, TX. This analysis – based, like the original NDIA Cleveland report, on FCC Form 477 data — was completed in early 2018, but not used by Parks in connection with his FCC complaint. It had never been published.
Dr. Whitacre has now provided it to NDIA for publication.
The statement linked below was drafted by Dr. Whitacre for use in an FCC submission (hence the numbered-paragraph format). His data, methodology and findings are presented in detail. His bottom line is stated straightforwardly in paragraphs 2 and 36:
“2. The analysis for Dallas demonstrates that AT&T has withheld fiber-enhanced broadband improvements from most Dallas neighborhoods with high poverty rates, relegating them to Internet access services which are vastly inferior to the services enjoyed by their counterparts nearby in the higher-income Dallas suburbs…
“36. Because the patterns revealed by this analysis result from a decade of deliberate infrastructure investment decisions, I argue that they constitute strong evidence of a policy and practice of “digital redlining” by AT&T — i.e. income-based discrimination against residents of lower-income urban neighborhoods in the types of broadband service AT&T offers, and in the company’s investment in improved service.”