- Bruce Kushnick, Managing Director, IRREGULATORS
- Sascha Meinrath, Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State and director of X-Lab,
How is it Possible that the PA Broadband Authority Failed to Mention Verizon PA?
Worse, How is it possible that the State ignored our previous issues with Volume I of the “Broadband Equity Access, and Development”. There is not one mention of what we had filed detailing material facts that were left out of this Pennsylvania Broadband 5 Year Plan. With over a billion dollars being made available to Pennsylvania from government sources, to ‘solve the Digital Divide’, and the other moving parts;
We call on the Agency to amend their filings now, before history repeats itself and the government subsidies fail to provide the solution. As we point out, this requires investigations and dealing with the hard issues.
How is it possible that the incumbent state based telecommunications public utility that serves over 80% of the State, was never once mentioned, or that Verizon PA helped to create the Digital Divide, and that collected and overcharged an estimated $18 billion to build out the networks– and counting?
Just to recap what we wrote in PART 1:
Our Point is Simple: Everything you are about to read was never mentioned in any State broadband 5 year plan or any other document pertaining to giving out over $1 billion with the claim that it will solve the Digital Divide. And we will present basic, basic material facts that need to be investigated.
Verizon PA is the state telecommunications public utility, (established in 1879), that had commitments to have 100% of their entire territory completed with a fiber optic wireline infrastructure that could handle 45 Mbps in both directions that was supposed to be completed by 2015, and the first deployments circa 1994. Yet, through a series of slippery dealings between the state and the corporation, Pennsylvania ended up with a corporate bait-and-switch where a wireless service at 1.5Mbps became the de facto standard.
By the end of 2014 we estimated that over $18 billion dollars had been charged to basic telephone service customers -ratepayers- and there was no serious wireline fiber deployment. And we have updated this story with a series of new investigations, including Pennsylvania, though 2023.
But, in the end, the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority never mentions that there is a 140 year old telecommunication public utility, now called Verizon PA, or that there have been commitments for upgrades to fiber optics, starting in the 1990’s, or that state laws were changed to provide investment, which turned out to be charged to local phone customers as rate increases, or that there has been an ongoing bait and switch with the wireless services using the construction budgets for fiber to the home, among other financial questions. Worse, the fiber optic wires have been installed for FTTP, fiber to the premises, are classified as “Title II” and are part of this telecommunications public utility–and this has its own series of issues, tied to Net Neutrality.
Moreover, at least 50% of all of the fiber that was put in was classified as “dark”, meaning not in use, based on the FCC’s last statistics, but, the kicker is — based on interviews with union installers, the wiring is going through areas deemed underserved or unserved in multiple Verizon states, including PA.
We also ADDED: The Story of how the Digital Divide was Created in Pennsylvania.
We will start with the story of how the Digital Divide was created in Pennsylvania, and explain that unless the core issues we bring up in this analysis and the related documents are addressed, no amount of government subsidies will fix the issues, especially when the largest recipients of the government subsidies have been the state telecommunications utilities, which can include Universal service fund and other government subsidies, and the cable companies they work with. Comcast and Charter are now reselling Verizon’s wireless service under their own brand name. Moreover, the prices of all services are now controlled by the Verizon networks, known as “Backhaul”, that are hiding in plain sight.
ATTACHED TO THIS EMAIL IS THIS LETTER AND THE ORIGINAL FILING– EXPANDED SLIGHTLY.
Bruce Kushnick, Managing Director, IRREGULATORS
Sascha Meinrath, Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State