AT&T’s $14 Billion Dollar ‘Bribe’ to Get Rid of Telecom Regulations Is a Multi-Layered Hoax
By Bruce Kushnick
Nov 9, 2012
Kushnick’s Law states: “A regulated company will always renege on promises to provide public benefits tomorrow in exchange for regulatory and financial benefits today.”
On November 7th, 2012, AT&T’s press release announced that it would “invest $14 billion to significantly expand wireless and wireline broadband networks, support future IP data growth and new services.”
It is a collection of great sound-bytes designed to be picked up by pundits, media companies and used by politicians who believe in blue skies, sunny days and the tooth fairy. Or worse, they are gullible or part of the AT&T cabal, either through campaign financing, advertising sales or direct deposits.
On the same day, November 7th, 2012, AT&T filed a petition with the FCC as part of their plan to close down the entire telecommunications networks — the Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) — the utilities. This is essentially the federal version of the state-based war AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink have waged with the help of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and others to close down the PSTN — the word “Public” being ignored.
As we wrote previously, AT&T also filed a letter with the FCC outlining their plans on August 30th, 2012. Basically, the phone networks are classified as “telecommunications” services and have obligations like “carrier of last resort” — meaning that the incumbent utility phone company must provide service to all of their customers. AT&T wants to have those laws erased and replaced with Internet regulation, making everything an “information service,” which does not have the same obligations. The state-based bills have gone through in 23 states because AT&T-ALEC et al. can outspend everyone, and they have designed a verbal jujitsu, fooling customers by using terms like “Internet freedom,” when it’s really about freedom for AT&T and the other companies.
Whether you call it extortion or a bribe or a bait-and-switch — this sudden interest in wired services is being used to force the regulator’s hands, on both the state and federal level: Give us what we want or we won’t bother to do anything. AT&T is holding 22 states’ economic future hostage.
However, this is just another telco flim-flam. Based on history, AT&T is lying about the amount of money they will spend or the deployments they will accomplish. These are not actual ‘commitments,’ though it wouldn’t matter, as it is clear that AT&T can wiggle out of anything. Moreover, the last two FCC administrations have bent over backwards to help the phone and cable companies in multiple ways.
This is not about technology; it is about keeping the monopoly over the wire so that other competitors can’t use it to, for example, offer competitive Internet service using the customer-funded wires.
In fact, AT&T (and the other phone companies’) modus operandi has always been to promise regulators wondrous deployments of broadband to change the laws in their favor, giving AT&T multiple rate increases and other deregulatory perks. These bribes were also used to allow them to merge and to create what is now AT&T, the sum of multiple incumbent phone companies covering 22 states. Unfortunately, once the ink is dry, while AT&T got the benefits they never fulfilled their obligations. Verizon and Centurylink, the other two incumbent telcos, of course, do the same thing.