FCC Accounting Rules Caused Verizon NY Cross-Subsidies

IRREGULATORS Take the FCC to Court Based on Verizon New York 2017 Annual Report. Billions Revealed in Cross-Subsidies Caused by the FCC’s Manipulated Accounting Rules. This is Happening Nationwide.

On June 3rd, 2019, the IRREGULATORS won Round 1, the right to take the FCC to court over their cost accounting rules. However, the case relies on the Verizon New York financial annual reports, the latest published May 30th, 2019. It is one of the largest accounting scandals in American history and it impacts all telecommunications in the United States – and all FCC decisions and proceedings, and almost all state decisions that relied on the FCC’s work.

PRESS: We created a by-the-numbers walk-through of the official Verizon New York 2017 Annual Report to spotlight some of the specific harms.

http://irregulators.org/verizonnywalkthrough/

The FCC’s rules were supposed to divide up the expenses that are to be paid by the different lines of business, such as Verizon Wireless or Verizon Online, for the use of the infrastructure and services of the state telecommunications utility – Verizon New York.

Unfortunately, the rules became corrupted and the expenses to be paid are set, “frozen”, to reflect the year 2000, 19 years ago. Using the Verizon New York annual reports, we prove that the rules are still in use and they now divert the majority of all expenses into Local Service, the basic POTS, phone service category. This has caused billions of dollars annually to be misallocated by charging phone customers excessive Corporate Operations expenses, everything from the corporate jets and golf tournaments to executive pay. It also diverted the construction budgets to pay for the wireless deployments. And Verizon was able to create losses that were used not only for rate increases, but to avoid paying billions in taxes. Ultimately, Verizon claims it is not profitable to upgrade rural or low income areas and is now planning a bait-and-switch, claiming 5G wireless will fix everything.

How crazy does it get?

  • Verizon NY 2017 Local Service was charged $1.8 billion, 61%, of Corporate Operations expense, making it unprofitable. Local Service had revenues of $1.1 billion. (“61%” is based entirely on the FCC’s FREEZE and it has been this way for 2 decades.)
  • Taxes: The Verizon NY 2017 Annual Report showed losses of $2.6 billion and a tax benefit of over $900 million. Verizon NY has shown losses of over $2 billion a year for almost the last decade, (with caveats).
  • Construction: Local Service paid the majority, $1.2 billion, in construction and maintenance, but only an estimated hundred million was attributed to the copper wires.
  • The NY Attorney General’s Office in 2012 found 75% of the utility construction budgets were being diverted to wireless or FiOS video services. This is instead of upgrading the NYC and NY State infrastructure.
  • Rates Increases of Over 100%: Since 2005, every wireline customer paid over $3,000 a line based on increases granted using artificial losses, through 2018.
  • It Created the Digital Divide by claiming areas of the state utility were unprofitable, when, in reality, there was enough money to have been doing continuous upgrades. In fact, rates should have been in steep decline.
  • This happened in every state because the FCC rules are federal. The last available data in 2007 matched in every state-based utility.
  • Customer overcharging, nationwide, is estimated to be $50-60 billion annually, based on what is happening in New York.

IRREGULATORS v FCC — In December, 2018, the FCC decided to extend the FREEZE rules for 6 more years. We could not let this stand and get worse. We have the actual financial books as well as the expertise to figure out what happened, but it has taken almost a decade of investigation to understand this accounting puzzle. No other state we know of still publishes financial reports; the FCC stopped publishing the financials in 2007.  We filed 18 separate reports and comments in this proceeding (Docket 80-286) to document our claims since 2015, which the FCC has mostly ignored. http://irregulators.org/our-work-reports-filings/

Settlement with Verizon NY and the NY Public Service Commission, July 2018: Our analysis and methodology was used in an investigation of Verizon New York that started in 2015 and was settled in July 2018. Estimated at $300-$500 million, 32,000 lines of fiber optics will be deployed in unserved areas and the existing networks will be maintained. But this settlement did not go far enough to fix the existing problems or deal with the FCC’s corrupted accounting.  https://bit.ly/2O25OqQ

The Bottom Line: No one knows or understands that the FCC’s rules have become corrupted over the last 2 decades, that they actually control the state-utility accounting and that they are still in use, nationwide. Stopping the Corporate Operations expenses, the cross-subsidies of the other Verizon lines of business with the state telecommunications utility, especially wireless, and making them pay market prices, will immediately lower rates on all services – not just basic phone service, and could bring billions back to do full upgrades of the telecommunication wired infrastructure. Cleaning up this long standing financial shell game also solves some of the Digital Divide concerns and could even create financial support as part of any settlement.

5G is not profitable once the cross-subsidies for wireless are removed. 5G is nothing more than another technology promise-them-anything bait-and-switch to get rid of state and federal regulations at the FCC and in state legislatures. (This is on top of the health concerns of putting a microwave antenna, always on, on a lamppost directly outside someone’s bedroom window.)

Nationwide Problem: These are federal rules that have been manipulated by the FCC, either by negligence or design.  Thus, all states, not only in the Verizon service area, but in the AT&T and CenturyLink territories, have the same financial issues that need to be fixed immediately. Taking the FCC to court is the first step in this direction.

IRREGULATORS is an independent consortium of retired and semi-retired senior telecom experts, analysts, forensic auditors, and lawyers who are former staffers from the FCC, state advocate and Attorneys General Office, as well as telecom auditors and consultants.

http://irregulators.org/who-we-are/

 

 

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

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

Reddit’s Reaction to the Book of Broken Promises

About “The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net”, by Bruce Kushnick
https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/6c5e97/eli5_how_were_isps_able_to_pocket_the_200_billion/

explainlikeimfive:

I’ve seen this thread in multiple places across Reddit:

I’m usually skeptical of such dramatic claims, but I’ve only found one contradictory source online, and it’s a little dramatic itself:

So my question is: how were ISP’s able to receive so much money with zero accountability? Did the government really set up a handshake agreement over $200 billion?

Bruce Kushnik’s Response:

Maybe you should go to the source: I’ve written three books about this starting in 1998 — and all of these appear to be related to the same threads — over two decades.

Here’s a free copy of the latest book, “The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net”, which we put up a few
weeks ago because few, if anyone actually bothered to read how the calculations were done. They were based on the Telecom companies’ annual reports, state filings, etc.– and the data is based on 20 years of documentation.

I’ve been tracking the Telecom deployments of fiber optics since 1991 when they were announced as something called the Information Superhighway. The plan was to have America be the first fiber optic country — and each phone company went to their state commissions and legislatures and got tax breaks and rate increases to fund these ‘Utility network’ upgrades that were supposed to replace the existing copper wires with fiber optics — starting in 1992. It was all a con.

As a former senior telecom analyst (the Telecoms my clients) I realized that they had submitted fraudulent cost models, and fabricated the deployment plans. The first book, 1998, laid out some of the history “The Unauthorized Biography of the Baby Bells” with foreword by Dr. Bob Metcalfe (co-inventor of Ethernet networking). I then released “$200 Billion Broadband Scandal” in 2005, which gave the details as by then more than 1/2 of America should have been completed — but wasn’t. The mergers to make the Telecom companies larger were also supposed to bring broadband– but it didn’t. I updated the book in 2015 “The Book of Broken Promises $400 Billion broadband Scandal and Free the Net”, but realized that there were other scams along side this — like manipulating the accounting.

We paid about 9 times for upgrades to fiber for home or schools and we got nothing to show for it — about $4000-7000 per household (though it varies by state and telco). By 2017 it’s over 1/2 trillion.

Finally, I note. These are not “ISPs”; they are State Telecommunications Utility companies that were able to take over the other businesses (like ISPs) thanks to the FCC under Mike Powell, now the head of the cable association.

They got away with it because they could create a fake history that reporters and politicians kept repeating. No state has ever done a full audit of the monies collected in the name of broadband; no state ever went back and reduced rates or held the companies accountable. And no company ever ‘outed’ the other companies– i.e., Verizon NJ never said that AT&T California didn’t do the upgrades.

That’s because they are all guilty of the same scheme, more or less. I do note that Verizon at least rolled out some fiber. AT&T pulled a bait and switch and deployed U-Verse over the aging copper wires (with a ‘fiber node’ within a mile).

It’s time to take this to court. Period. We should go after the financial manipulations (cross-subsidies) where instead of doing the upgrades to fiber, they took the money and spent it everywhere else, like buying AOL or Time Warner (or overseas investments), etc. We should hold them accountable before this new FCC erases all of the laws and obligations.

The California Fiber Optic Broadband Scandal

The following is an Excerpt from $200 Billion Dollar Broadband Scandal about the failed fiber optic history of California. What is now the post-merger AT&T (formerly Pacific Bell) had promised to deploy a fiber optic network that would reach 5.5 million homes by the year 2000 and spend $16 billion dollars.

To read the third book in this trilogy, see “The Book of Broken Promises”

Click to Read

FREE DOWNLOAD: “The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net”

Huffington Post

The Book of Broken Promises

“Kushnick’s Law”

“A regulated company will always renege on promises to provide public benefits tomorrow in exchange for regulatory and financial benefits today.”

America’s households and businesses have been overcharged at least nine times for broadband/fiber optic services, including the wiring of schools, libraries, and hospitals— about $4000-$7000 per household, and the total is way over ½ trillion dollars by 2016. You can thank just a few companies: AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink, who control the state-based utilities, along with the cable companies, Comcast and now-Spectrum et al. And this is the low number.

The 3rd book in a trilogy that started in 1998, “The Book of Broken Promises” by Bruce Kushnick, proves that few have a clue about the factual history of broadband, much less fiber optic deployments in America that customers paid for, especially the FCC.

April 2017 was Infrastructure Month at the FCC; shame you weren’t told the truth. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, has been making sure you hear the fake history of broadband and the Internet, which is being used to create exceedingly harmful public policies, and this needs to be stopped, now.

And regardless of what you heard, Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink control the state telecommunications utilities, such as Verizon NY or AT&T-California, a fact that has been erased. And the copper wires, as well as most of the fiber optic wires are part of these state utilities, including those used for FiOS or the wires to the cell sites, or all of the other ‘business data services’ (BDS). And they have been funded mainly by local phone customers—and are classified as something called “Title II”.

(Yes, AT&T and Verizon are also wireless companies, and ISPs, and cable companies, and broadband companies, and more recently ad-tech and entertainment companies. However, almost all of it uses the state utility wires, especially in their own territories.)

Here’s What Actually Happened (For details, download the book.)

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It is Time to take the FCC to Court

Huffington Post

Since the beginning of 2017, the FCC has been a path of destruction with the overarching theme to erase all laws, regulations and consumer protections and to let a few very large monopolies/duopolies (or oligopoly)—Verizon, AT&T, Centurylink, and the cable companies—do what they want at your expense.

And this FCC can follow this path because there are only three current commissioners (out of a full complement of five), where the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, controls the agenda with the second Republican Commissioner, Michael O’Rielly. This means that the only Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, (who has always taken a pro-consumer position), will lose every vote, but rather it means that the American Public loses as well.

Much of the FCC’s destructive path is well known to most:

  • Block Privacy Rules: The FCC (with Congress) has blocked the implementation of the previous FCC administration’s new privacy rules from going forward. Blocking this new rule allows the phone and cable companies to sell the customer’s information to advertisers and give their own affiliate companies the ability to spy and track customers’ purchases, friends, contacts, etc., on multiple devices.
  • Erasing the Net Neutrality rules is next and there will be a flurry of activities to stop the new FCC’s plans to neuter customer protections.

But there are other areas that have gotten little or no attention and they are at the core of your communications.

  • Erase Basic Accounting Rules: The very first official FCC meeting was used to erase some of the basic accounting rules,

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