Telecos Want More of Your Money Without Accountability

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In a recent Op-Ed in The Topeka Capital-Journal written by USTelecom’s1 CEO Jonathan Spalter and NTCA’s 2 CEO Shirley Bloomfield wrote on Monday saying:

Broadband infrastructure is essential to their [remote rural communities] full participation in a connected, digital worldLike electricity, broadband is essential to every American. Yet U.S. broadband infrastructure has been financed largely by the private sector without assurance that such costs can be recovered through increased consumer rates.

Some of these companies have already collected billions in taxpayer-provided subsidies while failing to deliver promised upgrades in service. While USTelecom and NTCA argue broadband is essential in the modern age and should be everywhere, even they acknowledge the lack of performance. So why are they advocating that the same companies now be given more of your money to build out these non-existent networks to our houses and businesses in McHenry County?

For the past 25 years, these same telecoms have promised high-quality fiber-optic broadband if we give them just them a little more deregulation and a little more money. There is a reality to building and infrastructure project, to be sure. However, history has shown that these private companies want all the profit and benefits of being a utility without the necessary regulation that to hold them accountable.3 4 5

IFMC supports rural and semi-rural areas, like McHenry County, in achieving reliable broadband access, but we do not need these for-profit telecoms to do it. In fact, if the cost of this project is going to be paid by us, we should own the broadband infrastructure as our rural neighbors elsewhere do now. A prime example is the electricity infrastructure build in the 1930’s as part of The Rural Electrification Act of 1936. The money was drawn from public tax dollars for a program that directly benefited the public, creating 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives in the process.

Footnotes

  1. USTelecom is a lobbying firm that represents Teleco companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink
  2. NTCA is The Rural Broadband Association, whom represents nearly 850 small ISPs
  3. Quinn, B, ( November,2017). Reports of the Internet’s Impending Death are Grossly Exaggerated. AT&T. Retrieved August , 2017 from https://www.attpublicpolicy.com/consumer-broadband/reports-of-the-internets-impending-death-are-grossly-exaggerated/
  4. Letter of Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corp., et al., to Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Rielly, GN Docket No. 14-28, at 1 (May 13, 2014), https://www.ifmc.co/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ceo-nn-letter-to-fcc.pdf
  5. The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net, 2015. Bruce A Kushnick. Pg. 94-103, 119-141.