Stop the FCC Proceedings and Investigate Verizon and AT&T

The FCC has proposed a series of harmful actions and regulations, all under the name “Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment”.

This proceeding is more accurately named: “Preempting state laws to allow shutting off of copper wire services so that the companies can get rid of any State Telecom Utility obligations, (and the unions) and only provide inferior wireless services (in place of a fiber optic wire to the home)— so Telecom companies can make more money”.

At the same time, the Telecom companies and the FCC will make outrageous claims about the future of “5G”, a wireless service that does not exist today and may never work as advertised. Ironically, “4G+1G HYPE” requires a fiber optic wire every block or two; these fiber optic wires could be extended to every home or business, but the Telecom companies don’t want to do that: they make more money for data-capped, unregulated Wireless services.

Once the FCC gets rid of Net Neutrality and privacy restrictions, the plan is to beef up the ad-tech to track you on all devices and sell the information. Keeping with their ‘say anything’ playbook, by using the magical terms ‘broadband’, ‘Internet’, ‘Digital Divide’, ‘revolution’ and ‘new tech’ as political carrots, the Telecom companies continue to get even more subsidies and help from the government.

This is what the FCC and the Telecom companies have planned. We are advocating for a very different future. We are asking every state, every city and every citizen to demand that the FCC stop the current series of proceedings to ‘shut off the copper’ and preempt state laws and — instead — request that the FCC start audits and investigations into the Agency’s own cost accounting rules and the massive financial cross-subsidies that its own rules have created.

At the same time, we are asking every state, every city and every citizen to request that the State Utility commissions, Attorneys General and Advocate offices start state-based audits and investigations, as has been going on at the NY Public Service Commission (NYPSC), which has been examining Verizon-NY’s quality of service issues and financial cross-subsidies: illegally transferring funds from Verizon-NY (the State Telecommunications Utility) to Verizon Wireless and other unregulated Verizon subsidiaries.

In fact, Verizon has recently started to discuss a settlement, which we will address in an upcoming post. We summarized our analysis in a new report: “Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report: Follow the Money: Financial Analysis and Implications” — which we filed in our comments at the FCC.

History shows that this tired strategy of reducing Telecom regulation has not worked to increase Wireline competition and none of the FCC, the State Utility Commissions, AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink — or their co-opted groups, think tanks and experts — have ever publicly discussed this fact. We placed the entire book “The Book of Broken Promises” into the public record at the FCC to prove that the FCC et al. is clueless or in denial about

  • the history of Broadband and the Internet
  • the hundreds of billions of dollars in investment incentives that were given, over and over, to what is now AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink to upgrade the copper wires to fiber optics.

The FCC should be asking:

  1. Why is most of America’s telecommunications infrastructure still based on the aging copper wires and not fiber optic wires?
  2. Where did all the money go?

The IRREGULATORS is convinced that the FCC needs to be taken to court over the decision they will make in this proceeding and we hope that commenters, organizations, cities and state organizations, and citizens will join us.

In fact, based on history, we file this knowing that this FCC will not take any action based on our filings, will ignore basic facts and documentation that refute their plans and has been doing this long before this proceeding. The FCC refuses to take seriously any of the data and facts we’ve presented in our previous filings, including the recent report submitted that used the Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report as the foundation of our analysis.

In short, the FCC has been working for the industry, not the public interest. The FCC’s goal is to remove basic consumer protections, free AT&T, Verizon et al. from any obligations of offering service, and erase the basic cost accounting rules instead of auditing the impacts of their rules.

Brendan Carr Omitted Critical Facts in His Testimony to Congress:

He Worked for AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, CTIA and the USTA.

In his written testimony to Congress, Brendan Carr, who has been nominated to be the third Republican FCC Commissioner, omitted the most important fact: He worked for AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink, as well as the CTIA, the wireless association, and the USTA, the telephone association. Moreover, much of this work has direct ties to his current work with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (a former Verizon attorney). Together they have amassed a string of corporate-monopoly friendly, harmful consumer regulations that have passed or are percolating.   In the end, Carr and Pai clearly show that they are still working for the industry, not the public interest.

On top of this, there are even holes in Carr’s work timeline, as told by his own LinkedIn bio. His resume shows he clerked for a judge in the 2008-2009 timeframe, while his bio shows him also working from 2005-2012 for Wiley Rein and the telcos and their associations.

All of this should be a deal breaker. The Senate should not confirm Brendan Carr’s nomination as FCC Commissioner.

FACT: Carr Never Mentioned He Worked for AT&T Et Al. in His Testimony to Congress

The IRREGULATORS & New Networks Institute File FCC Comments in Settlement Case Against Verizon-NY

  • Comment 1: is a short overview as well as a bibliography of our research, which is directly tied to this proceeding It also gives a brief discussion of issues that have been overlooked or are missing and need to be part of the next steps the State should be implementing.
  • Comment 2: is a more detailed view of the current proceeding and Verizon settlement, as published in tbe Huffington Post: Verizon NY in Multi-Billion Dollar Settlement Tangle, Underway in NY State.
  • Comment 3: : is a full analysis of the Verizon NY’s 2016 Annual Report Verizon NY 2016 Annual Report: Follow the Money: Financial Analysis and Implications

Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report: Follow the Money: Financial Analysis and Implications

Verizon-NY is the state-based Telecommunications Utility serving the majority of New York State; it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the holding company, Verizon Communications. Verizon-NY is required to file an annual report with the NY State Public Service Commission (NYPSC) that suppli es data that were originally provided in state-based reports filed with the FCC, known as ARMIS. The FCC, for some reason, stopped requiring this information by-state in 2007.

Verizon Wireless, Verizon Online, Verizon Business, etc., are all separate subsidiaries of Verizon Communications and are “subsidiaries” of Verizon-NY. While they maintain separate financial accounting, there are clear cross-subsidies of these other lines of business from the state utility, Verizon-NY.

This report is part of and must be seen in light of what is happening throughout the US and at the FCC. The only thing unique about Verizon NY is that it is required to do an annual report by the NYPSC. We do not know of any other state that has publicly available financial information, though some states keep the info and require a FOIA request to obtain it.

Unfortunately, while the NYPSC collects the data, it has never acted on what we found and no other state we know of has audited the financial books. The FCC has never audited these financial books, even though they are making rules that directly impact customers in urban ad rural areas across the US.

Link to Follow the Money: Verizon New York 2016 Annual Report:Financial Analysis & Implications

IRREGULATORS Filed Comments with the FCC and the Joint Board

On May 24th, 2017, the IRREGULATORS filed comments with the FCC and the Federal State Joint Board on Jurisdictional Separations.

IRREGULATORS:

We recognize that the Commission has chosen to deregulate the so-called Price Cap Carriers such that to the limited extent that they are subject to rate regulation, it is via a price cap mechanism, not the traditional Uniform System of Accounts. Hence only the Rate of Return Carriers are directly subject to the separations mechanism for the computation of their interstate rates. However, even in the case of the Price Cap Carriers, Separations is a joint federal-state matter, and the freeze imposed by the Commission directly impacted state rates and, even more importantly, policies. Fictitious accounting leads to bad decision-making. Hence the costs of more accurate separations are not an undue burden. Rate of Return Carriers already are required to provide detailed regulatory accounting in order to determine their appropriate rate and subsidization levels. Price Cap Carriers, especially the Bells (including their successors-in-interest) are large companies with ample accounting resources. Thus, the issues we raise are not moot, even when dealing with the largest carriers.

The Federal State Joint Board has asked:

  •  Re: Federal State Joint Board on Jurisdictional Separations Seeks to Refresh Record on Issues Related to Jurisdictional Separations, FCC 17J-1
  •  Re: Federal State Joint Board on Separations Seeks Comment on Referral for Recommendations of Rule Changes to Part 36 as a Result of Commission Revisions to Part 32 Accounting Rules, FCC 17J-2