Following are some quotes from the book, $200 Billion Broadband Scandal. Cross-posted from The Cook Report.
Bruce Kushnick writes: "To be quite honest, we didn’t know the extent of just how much money was collected state by state until we actually filed complaints in Massachusetts in 1999 and Pennsylvania in 2001 over the failed deployments, and did a 20-year summary for this book.
And boy were we naïve to the power of the Bell companies to control the agenda through fraudulent data and gaming the regulatory system using fake consumer groups, biased research firms and campaign-financed politicians, to control everything from the FCC, to Congress, to the state legislatures and commissions to vote for phone-company-financed laws that are not in the public interest. After being a member of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee (2003-2004), it became clear that many of the groups on the Committee, then and now, were nothing more than mouthpieces for those who fund them the Bell companies.
My Mini Review of Bruce's Book
Living in an age where corporate and national political scandals run amuck, when we are bombarded by new accusations, it becomes hard to pay attention. Especially so when the scandals are systemic and go on-and-on for 10, and even 20 years. And when they involve the Federal agency that is supposed to protect the public from abuse. Not to mention the state agencies as well.
As a full time observer of these events since autumn 1990 and a user of computer networks since June of 1980 I have seen the world change and have long been aware of the battles that Bruce Kushnick has been fighting. But they made my mind numb and eyes glaze over. I had too many problems. I couldn’t deal with this. Let someone else do it.
Fortunately, Bruce kept on digging and writing and building the fortress of his indictment of the telcos brick by brick by brick. The result at [URL] is both mind numbing in its detail and stunning in its implications. Bruce has assembled thousands of pieces of data since the mid 1980s to show how the baby bells put themselves first year after year after year and effectively cut short the ability of the United States to have the modern IP and Internet based digital communications necessary for its citizens to compete economically in a globalized world.
Bruce’s central point is that in the 26 states controlled by Verizon and SBC the local phone companies sold new regulatory regimes to the state PUCs. That they promised to build fiber everywhere and deliver symmetrical 45 megabit per second data networks to homes and businesses for the most part within a decade. The decade and more has now come and gone. The networks were never built. However the LECs continue to charge all customers the higher rates and the state PUCs don’t complain. Bruce’s 200 billion Broadband Scandal totals the figure that individuals and businesses in those 26 states paid for Broadband networks that were never delivered. He gets $206 billion dollars that they would not have had to pay, had rate-of- return regulation not been over turned.
Yet the problem doesn’t end there. Bell East and Bell West are leading a full scale assault on the ability of their customers to use the Internet in the end-to-end manner that that its creators intended. Nearly 400 years ago in France Louis XIV the Sun King ran the original mercantilist system whereby royally chartered companies were given special rights and privileges over the French economy in return for their economic support of the Throne. Bruce leads us through the underbrush and shows how in the past five years the “bells” have consolidated their hold as the royally appointed “agents” who will determine what we may and may not do in our use of the Internet over “their” networks. Networks that we paid for.
It took the French People 175 years to bring the Sun Kings mercantilism crashing back to earth with the French Revolution. We better hope that our revolution goes MUCH faster.