Below I quote a NY Times article interviewing the NJ Consumer advocate in 1997, who filed a complaint about the failure of Bell Atlantic (Verizon) New Jersey to bring fiber optic services to low income areas, starting in 1993- and the redlining. Yes, 3 decades ago.
“In the five years since Bell Atlantic promised to wire every home and business in New Jersey with fiber optic cable, the company has hooked up suburban business parks and large corporations and set a schedule for suburban neighborhoods, but has not yet made specific plans for the thousands of poor people who live in the state’s largest cities… Those people have paid for the fiber optic lines through their monthly bills, she said, but they have not yet benefited.”
It is time to correct the record and point out the factual flaws that are now creating a new corporate welfare state for AT&T, Comcast, etc. –which includes the low income ACP and BEAD monies. – but are not helping the public in the end.
The reports coming out, like the “Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion”, are either clueless or worse they reflect the report’s funders, which include AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Crown Castle, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Moreover, it is filled with a cast of other writers, almost all are or have been funded by the companies.
The report’s position (paraphrased)– give the companies more government subsidies on multiple levels. It does not hold those accountable, but wants to reward them.
Truth is: Almost every state telecom utility in America had a fiber optic plan, replacing the copper, starting in 1992; — but never delivered. Then, Verizon et al. pulled another shell game and promised fiber optics in 2004 (FiOS and AT&T, U-verse). And again stopped and instead, around 2011 the construction budgets of the utilities appear to have been diverted to wireless in a bait and switch, but still charged to customers — Virtually no state ever went back and lowered rates, or refunds.
The Latimer plan and all those plans that start at the pandemic, or worse, and they start at the failed National Broadband Plan of 2010–(which never mentioned the state plans) never even mentions now AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink (Lumen) by name and fails to identify that they created the Digital Divide. They got paid, and are still being paid, but never did the upgrades to all customers.
And this is not history — overcharging and wireless-cross-subsidies are still in play in 2023. We don’t need Corporate Welfare. Time to halt the subsidies and overcharging and use these funds in 2023 to pay for fiber upgrades, but also lower rates. (may require registration)
Bell Atlantic Plan Neglects Poor, Advocate Says
archive.nytimes.com • 5 min read