AT&T’s latest plan to screw consumers

Now AT&T wants approval to convert all of this to an all-IP system. And because of the FCC’s flawed view of IP, this move would jettison all of the public interest protections that govern common carriers like AT&T. (The centuries-old “common carriage” concept applied to entities like railroads, shippers, and telecoms that transport goods often using public rights-of-way; since these functions are critical to commerce, common carriers are usually regulated even if they don’t operate in monopoly markets).

Get ready to grab your ankles, folks. And don’t expect so much as the courtesy of a reacharound.

  • Guest

    Taxpayers funded the creation of the Internet. The era of properly regulated public utilities is just a memory.

  • The era of properly regulated public utilities is just a memory.

    • I’m not a fan of AT&T, that said, it’s pretty much an undeniable fact IP communication is becoming the norm and the POTS networks are on their way out. I have read the Free Press filing, and it smacks of knee-jerk, “I’m opposing this because it’s AT&T” reactionary thought. I would expect better from an organization such as Free Press, where I support their goals. Their aim on this protestation is way off.

      • My point about this is, whether it’s POTS or IP, you and I paid for the research that created it and for the other work that brought to market so private companies like AT&T could sell services with it.

        These are public utilities. They belong to us. Allowing private companies to effectively control them with lobbyists and campaign cash is theft, as far as I’m concerned.

    • JDSoCal

      Are you referring to you local cable company?

      • I’m referring to every public utility that has taken advantage of decades of deregulation to privatize, consolidate, collude, and eventually control the market that created it by buying more and more of our legislatures.

        That includes cable companies, telcos, municipal electric and water systems. It also includes non-utilities like banks, oil companies, big pharma, big agriculture, and more.

        • JDSoCal

          So cable companies and banks are deregulated?


          • How many of either did there used to be?

            You’re a troll. Enjoy your evening.

  • Walt French

    Heck, I’d be satisfied if the FCC merely allowed the telcos out of their universal coverage obligations — in exchange for which they were guaranteed rates that covered the bills and then some — if, and only if, there were at least 2 or 3 competitors with a published cost for serving a given location.

    Universal coverage is a nice idea — and it undeniably was helpful in uniting the country — but it’s pretty obvious now that many people elect to move to rural locations to AVOID the costs associated with cities. No reason that city dwellers should be subsidizing their internet access.

    The decision to live in rural Colorado should come with the realization that along with cheap land and low taxes, you’ll pay a bit more to have access to Netflix and YouTube.

    • How about people who live in rural areas because they can’t afford to go anywhere else?

      • Walt French

        So you’re saying that we should subsidize internet access MORE than other goods, such as nutritious food, electricity, quick access to emergency medical care, access to a local library, and such?

        Having internet access might be a valuable social goal, but I doubt it’s so much more valuable than all the other items that we should help people get it, and not the other items. Generally, such single-purpose programs are a TERRIBLE way to make policy, all piecemeal like that, without any balance. Worse, when voters review the laundry list of things that we do for people in need, we get overwhelmed and say “no” to more pressing needs.

        Then, there’s 10 years later, and the tech has utterly changed, but the programs live on. A lot of the cord-cutting of landlines has been because if you have one, you pay for such programs, and pay some phoney-baloney “long distance” access fee for the privilege of making a call to somebody 25 miles away. Cellphone plans are gawdawfully expensive, but by loading up landlines with excess charges, they drive the old tech out. Which is why AT&T is seeking to be freed—it’s a dying business based on this type of warped economics.

        • I asked a question. You made it seem as though our entire population has the economic freedom to choose where they live and how they live. Perhaps that’s true for your circle of acquaintances, but it’s far from universal.

          I was making no sort of comparison between different sorts of infrastructure that everyone relies upon. The story this page links to is, in part, about the effects of deregulation and consolidation on what were once public utilities that provided a service at affordable rates.

          That said… So then who deserves good infrastructure? Who gets left behind?

          What does “subsidize” mean when you’re providing ways for people to get to their jobs, light their homes, have access to decent groceries, conduct their business online, and contribute to the tax base that runs our country?

          Is it “good spending” if it’s for your community, and a “subsidy” if it’s for someone else’s?

  • While I have concerns about AT&T and Verizon’s increasing power, the author failed to put forward an alternate plan. It’s undeniable that people are transitioning away from POTS lines to IP based technologies. If he’s not going to put forward an alternate solution, he holds no chance to stop the Bells from getting their way. Without an alternate solution, this is simply an article for show.

    • And if there is no alternate solution? Even if there is, it’s not the authors responsibility to find it for you.

      Isn’t it worth pointing out the flaws? Should we all just suck it up, because we’re good little sheepies and don’t complain about crap? That’s just as stupid as not telling someone they’re wrong, just because you don’t have the right answer.

  • JDSoCal

    If you really think highly-regulated cell networks is a good idea, just look at the disaster that is Europe:

    Be careful what you wish for.

    • Oh! Look, everybody! CNBC is quoting CEOs of carriers who hate having to compete as public utilities! Imagine that.

      Disaster? Please.

      My friends in London get to shop around for the best deal they can get on a phone, and only then have to shop around for the best deal they can get on a carrier.

      The telecom cartel might call that a disaster because they have to play on a level field and compete with each other. Probably without as many billions in government subsidies as we provide. Boo hoo.

      I love the phrase “unfriendly towards investors.” Little Ren Obermann sees money on the table that nobody will let him grab without working for it.

      It’s called “false scarcity.” Why spend your own money to improve your own networks if you can instead plead poverty and charge more for less?

      • JDSoCal

        And how are those speeds your friends are getting on their 1G?

        • I’ve heard no complaints about whatever plans they’re on. But then none of my friends are anti-government apologists who’ll willingly sell off their infrastructure for the privilege of giving up all control of pricing and deployment, as we have here.

          How’s that duopoly working out for you?

          • Don’t forget the fact that you now have the “Seven Strikes” initiative, that’s born out of the fact that the biggest media companies are either in bed with or are the land-based internet providers.

          • Don’t remind me. We gave them the Internet, and they pissed on us with it.

          • Apt analogy. Too bad that the better part of the population still thinks it’s just warm rain.

          • Libertarians with short memories are what billionaires’ dreams are made of.

          • JDSoCal

            You’re the one with a short memory. What was mobile like before iPhones came along and T and VZ invested billions upgrading their nets? Phone and text, that’s it.

            And look for ZERO capex in Euroland. No return, no investment.

          • The carriers didn’t invest billions. Congress did, with taxpayers’ money. Our elected representatives kept paying carriers to do their own improvements.

            Does that make sense to you? I mean, considering how important you’re saying investment is. And do you think any government that’s willing to lay out that much cash should merely allow a cartel to control the market that creates?

    • First off: What Moeskido said.


      Holy crap, if you knew how much money the carriers receive in EU subsidies, you’d die from shock.

      There might be around 140 carriers in the entirety of Europe, but not in the major markets. There you have between two and five network operators and tons of resellers, which is not the same.

      This kind of regulation is nothing but glorious for the consumer, because it essentially forces the telcos to provide an essential part of the common infrastructure. Not just where it suits them. It also forces them to compete with each other and limits their power to gouge the consumer.

      It doesn’t however stop them from making you pay for premium services such as high speed mobile broadband. You still pay through the nose here.

      BTW, Rene Obermann’s comments (he’s a dick BTW) had to do with the fact that less regulation, especially in terms of network neutrality, would allow him to cash in on things he doesn’t do: It’d allow the telcos to charge the likes of Google and Apple to pay them extra for the permission of pushing cloud services through their networks. Obermann’s showing once again that the telcos will rather fight tooth and nail than accept that they’re dumb pipes and innovate on that front.

      Give me heavy handed regulation of essential infrastructure any day! Holy shit.

      • JDSoCal

        Right, forcing a company to do something, that’s the proper role of government. And it’s worked so well! Zero growth, zero investment, massive unemployment.

        And what speeds are these Euros getting?

        • And led to the biggest profits for major sectors ever seen under any system. Funny how so little of those profits went into creating more jobs, don’t you think? Perhaps you’re confusing regulatory systems with offshore accounts. You know… the kind where the very rich hide their job-creating money?

          Your cause-and-effect relationships are skewed towards noodle-head. Properly regulating capitalism helps keep businesses from cheating consumers out of fair prices for products and services. Properly taxing everyone funds the government that provides a place for profits to be made. Your libertarian paradise exists only in third-rate middle-schooler fiction.

          • JDSoCal

            Oh, now corporations are jobs programs. I thought they were profit vehicles for investors. Learn something every day.

          • No. Corporations are predators that take everything they can. They are built to grab whatever money is available by any means available. If that means sucking a government dry of unearned subsidies and paying Congressmen to call social programs “entitlements,” that’s what they do.

            You want to create jobs? Three decades of deregulation hasn’t worked very well. What else you got?

        • These regulations exist to prevent companies from doing things they’re not supposed to, things that are detrimental to the integrity of the market and thus the customers.

          I don’t understand your comments related to growth, investment, and unemployment. Are you referring to the telco sector or the effects of the financial crisis over the last few years?

          What speeds are we getting? Good ones I think. I personally use HSPA for my phone, but I don’t need the 14.4 MBit/s it offers, so I only use 7.2 Mbit/s. Other than that one of our major carriers has recently introduced 100 Mbit/s LTE to the masses. In terms of cable I have a steady 105 Mbit/s downstream.

          Is that bad?

  • Have fun guys, in the EU they’re now selling the water supply to private investors. That thing called public property is history…