Wisconsin Fiber Optic Failure

in 2007, Teletruth Wisconsin was created to block a piece of legislation that would give AT&T Wisconsin a state-wide franchise to offer video services, with the claim this would also speed up  upgrading to fiber optics. It was started when it was reported that a) AT&T Wisconsin was using dead people as backers of their proposed legislation, and b) adding people who were adamantly against the bill as someone who endorsed the legislation.

Fact Sheet: Wisconsin Ameritech Fiber Optic Broadband Failure We estimate the Wisconsin/Ameritech/SBC/AT&T was able to garner $3-$5 billion in excess phone rates and tax perks for a fiber optic service customers never received.

Wisconsin Ameritech Fiber Optic story

Complaint Filed: Request for an Investigation of Wisconsin’s Broadband Deployment and Customer Funding.


  • Ameritech, under the federal video-dialtone (advanced cable) filings, made statements that it would be rewiring its entire territory, including Wisconsin, with fiber to the home services.  According to Ameritech, the company would start with 146,000 homes in Milwaukee Wisconsin, with services capable of 390 channels. And have 6 million homes by 2000.
  • At the same time, Ameritech Wisconsin created the “Information Superhighway” commitments to spend $700 million dollars on schools, libraries, hospitals, etc.
  • Ameritech received major ‘deregulation’ changes in the state law that no longer examined profits, creating major excess profits, as well as tax perks – read higher phone rates. This excess profit was to be used for network upgrades.
  • Ameritech was part of Americast which included SBC, SNET, Disney, BellSouth and Ameritech. Tele-TV, the other group, included Pacific Bell, NYNEX and Bell Atlantic. Thus, what happened in Wisconsin also happened throughout the Ameritech region.
  • During the merger of SBC-Ameritech, SBC also made commitments to spend $6 billion and expand broadband throughout the territories, called Project Pronto.


  • Wisconsin Bell never received any cable services, None of the 146,000 lines were ever deployed.
  • The “$700 Million” expenditures was a ruse. The company simply restated what it was already going to spend on network upgrades.
  • Wisconsin Bell pulled a fast one, redefining the words “Broadband to the facility” to mean somewhere in the network, and thus unusable to the intended groups.
  • Wisconsin Bell received massive financial excess profits and the changes to state law were never repealed. Thus Wisconsin Bell customers paid billions in higher phone rates and tax perks for networks that were never deployed.
  • The video dialtone services couldn’t be built. The equipment that was supposed to be used didn’t work as advertised, costing much more money than presented in the original cost models.

Who wrote the bills in question is a question: 

In 2007 we wrote a series of articles for Harvard Nieman Watchdog and foucused on Wisconsin

How much of your state’s legislation is being drafted by industry?
ASK THIS | November 30, 2007
The American Legislative Council, or ALEC, lets corporations cultivate legislators and win support for industry-written bills while not technically breaking lobbying rules – and paying no taxes. (First of two articles) 

Wisconsin: A case study in how corporations get the legislation they want

COMMENTARY | January 31, 2008

Telecom and broadband expert and activist Bruce Kushnick describes how model corporate bills get introduced and enacted in Wisconsin, to the detriment of the common good. (Second of two articles.)