After making a big, bold promise to wire every corner of America, the telecom giants are running away from their vow to provide nationwide broadband service by 2020. For almost 20 years, AT&T, Verizon and the other big players have collected hundreds of billions of dollars through rate increases and surcharges to finance that ambitious plan, but after wiring the high-density big cities, they now say it's too expensive to connect the rest of the country. But they'd like to keep all that money they banked for the project.It's awesome to get paid for something you decide you don't want to do, right? Well, that's not true, they're hiring armies of lobbyists to shed themselves of their responsibilities. And by "armies," I'm not exaggerating:
Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and other telecommunications companies have hired swarms of lobbyists to make similar deals from Pennsylvania to California. AT&T retained 120 of lobbyists in Sacramento, three dozen in Lexington, Ky.Not only are the telcos trying to rid themselves of the responsibility of providing universal broadband, not to mention erase consumer protection regulations and the like. They're also fighting hard to make sure towns can't provide broadband service to their own residents.
BOB GARFIELD: They pass on a given region because it's not clearly going to be profitable for them, and yet, when the municipalities want to fill in the gaps, then the lobbyists try to stymie the municipal build-out. Is that what’s happening?Crazy.
JAMES BALLER: That’s what’s happening. It seems that what the cable and telephone companies that do this are trying to achieve is preserve future markets when they figure that it's time for them to get around to them, or they’re fearful that the municipal projects will actually be successful and stimulate others to emulate those successes.