Thursday, April 17, 2014

Verizon deception in order to avoid fulfilling broadband committments

In 2006, Bruce Kushnick published a book documenting $200 billion in subsidies given to Verizon on the condition that they make infrastructure investments. They did not make those investments. In 2009, Kushnick published a second edition in which, he increased the amount to $300 billion.

Now ARS Technica has shed some light on tactics Verizon uses to avoid fulfilling committments:
To make sure it doesn't have to complete the buildout to all of New Jersey's 8.9 million residents, Verizon led an astroturf campaign that flooded the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) with hundreds of identical e-mails purporting to support Verizon's case. One person who is listed as having written one of these e-mails told Ars that he didn't submit anything, and if he did, "I would've slammed them." A report in Stop the Cap this month found several other Verizon "supporters" who had no idea e-mails were submitted under their names.
Kushnick has been researching and writing about this sort of thing for years and Verizon has agreed/decided to invest in mobile infrastructure and marketing, not home connectivity. It is good to see it finally getting wider coverage -- if the general public begins to wake up to the self-serving, anti-competitive behavior of the telephone and cable companies, we may see some real change.

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Update 11/30/2014

A common pattern -- an ISP promises to make capital investments in infrastructure in return for a rate hike or permission to merge -- then they break the promise. Bruce Kushnick has been writing about this pattern for years. His latest example concerns AT&T's promise to roll out fiber in return for a merger with Direct TV. The FCC asked to see AT&T's plans and they received fully redacted documents. For the full story of this and many other broken promises, see Kushnicks book The Book of Broken Promises.