Small town, independent and municipally owned ISPs offer America's best connectivity

An article of faith among neoliberals is that monopolies are efficient because they are so profitable that they can offer better prices to their customers as well as better services. Read the rest

Frontier: if you don't buy your router, we'll charge you a rental fee; if you DO buy your router, we'll charge you a "support" fee

Frontier bought out Verizon's FIOS business in Texas, California, and Florida; some of Verizon's (former) customers had shelled out $200 to buy their routers rather than endure the indignity of being charged a monthly rental fee by Verizon -- but now, Frontier is charging them a rental fee even though they're not renting a router. Frontier says that this is because supporting third-party hardware costs them so much that they have to charge a fee to recoup it. Read the rest

Ajit Pai promised that killing Net Neutrality would spur investment and improve service: a year later, service and investment have declined

A year ago, Trump FCC Chairman (and former Verizon exec) Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality, leveraging illegal, fraudulent industry dirty tricks to ram his rule through the process; all along, he claimed that Net Neutrality was a drag on investment, competition and service improvements, and that Americans would see immediate benefits once he was done killing Net Neutrality. Read the rest

Canada's telcoms regulator adopts a sweeping new pro-competition agenda

For decades, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has been missing in action, standing idly by as Canada's telcom companies merged with each other and with media giants, created three bloated, anticompetitive vertically integrated monopolies; now the CRTC has repented its sins, adopting its proposed pro-competition agenda (which was bitterly opposed by the Big Three), with far-reaching implications for mobile virtual network operators, facilities sharing, rural coverage, accessibility and investment. The policy goes into effect immediately. Read the rest

Traverse City, MI braves the wrath of telcoms lobbyists, pushes ahead with municipal fiber network

Municipal broadband is pretty much the telco monopolists' worst nightmare: it's a cheaper, faster alternative and it's the only internet service that customers express high levels of satisfaction for, so it's no wonder that telcoms lobbyists have convinced 26 states to ban cities from providing internet access, sometimes literally drafting the legislation and handing it off to lawmakers. Read the rest

New Jersey law would force Verizon to pay the taxes it avoided for a decade

A 1997 New Jersey law allows telcoms companies to stop paying taxes while continuing their access to municipal infrastructure (poles, land, lines, etc) if they serve fewer than 51% of the people in a city; in 2008, Verizon started to claim this exemption, by 2015, it was paying no municipal taxes to 150 of New Jersey's 565 cities. Read the rest

Why is there so much antitrust energy for Big Tech but not for Big Telco?

I'm 100% down for the trend toward trustbusting, and I'm very glad to see it applied to Big Tech, because, like Tom Eastman, I'm old enough to remember when the Internet wasn't a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four. I'd like to have that Internet again. Read the rest

AT&T's dystopian advertising vision perfectly illustrates the relationship between surveillance and monopoly

AT&T has come a long way from the supernormative, feel-good messages of its You Will ads; now CEO Randall Stephenson predicts a future where his company will dynamically alter your TV ads based on what it thinks you will buy; and chase you with that ad from your TV to your computer to your phone, and then spy on your location to see whether you go to a retailer to buy the thing you've had advertised to you; and use that intelligence to command high advertising rates from advertisers. Read the rest

Comcast fights shareholder call for lobbying transparency, saying that it would be "burdensome" to reveal how much it spends lobbying states

A group of Quaker investors called Friends Fiduciary have introduced a shareholder motion that was backed by the owners of more than a million Comcast shares, calling on the company to voluntarily disclose its state-level lobbying activities; the company strenuously objects to making such disclosures, calling the measure an "unnecessary burden." Read the rest

European telcos want the right to perform "deep packet inspection" on our data

[Austria's Epicentre Works is an incredibly effective European digital rights group, most famous for getting the EU's Data Retention Directive struck down; now, they're raising the alarm about a move to relax the EU's Net Neutrality rules to allow ISPs to conduct fine-grained surveillance and discrimination against services that aren't in bed with ISPs. I'm happy to provide Epicenter Works's Thomas Lohninger a space to highlight the group's efforts -Cory]

Today 45 NGOs, Academics and Companies from 15 countries released an open letter outlining the dangers of the wide-spread use of privacy invasive Deep Packet Inspection technology in the European Union. The letter is referencing the ongoing negotiations about Europes new net neutrality rules in which some telecom regulators are pushing for the legalization of DPI technology. Read the rest

AT&T promised it would create 7,000 jobs if Trump went through with its $3B tax-cut, but they cut 23,000 jobs instead

In 2017, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson campaigned for Trump's massive tax-cuts by promising that they would create 7,000 jobs with the $3,000,000,000 they stood to gain, as well as investing in new infrastructure: instead, the company has reduced its headcount by 23,328 workers (6,000 in the first three months of 2019!) while reducing capital expenditures by $1.4B (AT&T reduced capex by another $900m in Q1/2019). Read the rest

Frontier receives $283.4m/year in taxpayer money, neglects network, rips off customers -- and Trump's FCC won't investigate

Frontier Communications is a telcoms company so naturally they're a terrible company (a telcoms company is just a collection of regulatory subsidies wrapped up in a layer of greed and malpractice); the company is one of the nation's leaders in the use of fraudulent accounting to evade taxes, and it takes in $283.4 million every year in tax-funded subsidies to provide services to rural Americans, while ripping them off like crazy and cutting corners by neglecting its network and allowing it to fall into dangerous disrepair. Read the rest

Charter's new way to be terrible: no more prorated cancellations

Charter isn't America's most hated company, but that's only because Comcast is so next-level terrible that they distort the leaderboard; nevertheless, Charter tries hard! Whether it's slashing billions from network outlays while raising prices way ahead of inflation or lying so egregiously that they get kicked out of New York State, Charter is relentless in its pursuit of ways to be a shitty, shitty company. Read the rest

Telcoms lobbyists oppose ban on throttling firefighters' internet during wildfires

The CTIA is America's top telcoms lobbying organization, and they're trying to kill AB1699, a proposed California law that would ban carriers from throttling firefighters' internet access, as Verizon did in 2018, then lied about, then launched a charm offensive to defend. Read the rest

Joe Biden kicks off his presidential bid with a fundraiser hosted by Comcast's chief lobbyist

Joe Biden, a colossal asshole, wants to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 and in the most on-brand move ever, he's launched his campaign with a fundraiser hosted by the chief lobbyist for Comcast, the most hated company in America. (Image: Ildar Sagdejev, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Fool me twice: New York State commutes Charter's death sentence after Charter promises to stop breaking its promises

Back in September 2018, the state of New York ordered Charter to leave: the company had made a bunch of promises about investing in high-speed broadband for New Yorkers as a condition of approval for its acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and then it lied like crazy, defrauding the state and attracting a $172.4M penalty (the largest penalty ever paid by a US ISP); since then, the company has been begging New York state to commute its death sentence and give it another chance. Read the rest

Telcoms lobbyists have convinced 26 states to ban or restrict municipal broadband

More than half of the US states have passed laws that ban or severely restrict local governments from investing in broadband: many of these laws were copypasted from "model legislation" circulated by corporate telcoms lobbyists (this is a disturbing, widespread practice in America's state houses); and many of the states that have passed these bills have large areas where every ISP is a Net Neutrality violator, and all across America, ISPs are underinvesting in network buildout (especially for rural subscribers) while raising prices and refusing to sell high-speed service to customers who don't also buy cable TV. Read the rest

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