AT&T’s ISDN- The Unlevel Playing Field: Part 1

by | ISDN, Technology, Voice Over, Voiceover

I rarely write about controversial things, but my blood is boiling and I’m sharing.

Many of you already know I’ve recently moved from San Diego to Milwaukee. I had ISDN in installed at my California house for about five years. I was paying about $50/month.

Inconsistent ISDN Account Prices from person-to-person and region-to-region

In preparation of the move I contacted the AT&T ISDN rep for the Midwest region who gave me a quote that made me gasp: $194 installation plus $214.00 per month. I swallowed hard but accepted the deal because ISDN work is a pretty consistent component of my voiceover business. I was told that ISDN in this region is now classified as a business account. Even though I have a friend about 50 miles north of me who’s paying $45/month for her ISDN service under a residential account, which I brought up to AT&T, they said she was grandfathered, and I didn’t qualify for that rate. Why? AT&T is working to phase out ISDN and it looks like the first target is the Midwest region. Indeed my installer was also surprised when I told him what I was going to be paying. He said that the service costs about $38, plus line charge, should be $45.  So why the disparity?

Grandfathered ISDN Account

My friend up north’s personal ISDN  is grandfathered, and residential or personal ISDN accounts are no longer an option. They were discontinued July 16, 2012 in this region. Further, AT&T has a monopoly and owns most of the equipment . The Midwest Region includes Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. A survey of the bulk  my talented voiceover friends in this region are all paying about five times the cost for the service.  Clearly I feel at a competitive disadvantage to others who pay substantially less in other parts of the country, and the  grandfathered in-state accounts.

Some other friends in other areas of the country have Verizon and other ISDN service providers. Not in this region. We’re over the barrel as AT&T pushes the  envelope, in squeezing out small business, solo artists like me who’ll just throw up our hands and drop the service because it’s just to damned expensive. Bottom line….this is harmful to small business and AT&T doesn’t seem to care.

Death of ISDN Service

Everyone’s been talking forever about the death of  ISDN. I was told by AT&T that they are working to reduce their support of the infrastructure (two paired copper wires) and associated maintenance. I was also told yesterday by a rep at AT&T I may wish to consider Static IP if I can do it. Sure I can, but the studios need to change their standards. And that’s another conversation altogether.

My first bill was $551, including the first month, installation, plus all the taxes etc. Ugh! I paid it, knowing the next one would be a lot less. The second bill arrived, and it’s over $300, indicating a $50 per month increase plus plus….

I’m sick over this. And I’m analyzing what’s going on.

ISDN is old technology, but at the same time it’s highly reliable. It’s 40 years old. After AT&T was split up, the markets were fragmented with new service providers. But the telcos eventually lost a lot of land line accounts to wireless and fiberoptic technology.

AT&T is banking its future on fiberoptics. Why do you think they’re pushing U-Verse? But it still comes into your house on copper. In the meantime, a lot of my fellow voice actors are in pain over AT&T’s moves to push out ISDN users with the disincentive of simple price gouging. I’m calling it legal robbery.

Ultimately I believe  most ISDN voice talent are going to be facing big changes, sooner rather than later.

Next I’ll discuss alternatives, an action plan and possible solutions and work arounds.



  1. Retweeted but had to shorten for tweet’s sake, it’ll still end up here. Word to your and many others’ mothers! Ludicrous comes to mind! So far no replies from AT&T via Twitter, maybe this’ll wake em up. I give! I give! Thanks so much for writing this Bobbin!

    • Yea, Chris. I’m feeling your pain, man. Lucky I just was booked for a session next week. I am investigating alternatives and doing some research. Appreciate the RT too.

  2. Hi Bobbin

    You are so right, ISDN supplying telcos do indeed seem to be squeezing small businesses out. Thankfully it’s not happening quite yet in the UK, but it’s almost inevitable, I suppose we don’t generate enough revenue for them compared to the banks and supermarkets who make up a huge proportion of their customs. Although from the size of your bills, I would say that you are probably contributing a very healthy profit for them.

    Keep yelling, hopefully someone somewhere will hear and take note.

    Bet regards


    • Hi David,
      A lot of businesses. Not just VO’s but studios too!
      I’m going to keep raising the issue, and taking it social. I appreciate your input.

  3. Hi Bobbin,
    In the course of your research, you may want to investigate a lesser known newer alternative: ConnectionOpen. Currently in beta testing, but I believe you can still try it out free. It might be worth a look.

    • Hey Joe. I am glad you dropped by and offered some hot insights. I’ll check into connectionopen. Thanks a bunch!

  4. Check and make sure you aren’t paying for a “feature package” you know nothing about. This happened when Dave Immer of activated new ATT ISDN service for an LA client of mine, and it was tacking on $40 in charges for no apparent reason. Even Dave was clueless what it was all about.


  1. 13 Top Voiceover Blog Posts This Week - Feb. 3, 2013 | Derek Chappell's Voiceover Blog - [...] AT&T’s ISDN – The Unlevel Playing Field, Part 1 – Bobbin Beam [...]

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