Bruce Kushnick, Executive Director, New Networks Institute, talks about
The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Million Broadband Scandal & Free the Net
@civichall, April 28th, 2015
Civic Hall Book Day — Tuesday, April 28, 2015
NOTE: Other speakers include Susan Crawford, Astra Taylor, Allison Fine, Micah L. Sifry, and Alissa Quart — (See below)
New Expose Released: About the Book: Fact Sheet, Table of Contents, About the Author, About the Trilogy. Now available in paperback, ebook for Kindle, or an inexpensive PDF
It Is Time to Start Fixing What’s Broken with Communications in America.
With the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger now dead in its tracks, and weeks earlier, the FCC released its new Open Internet/Net Neutrality decision only to be greeted by an onslaught of legal challenges that will continue for years, The Book of Broken Promises emerges to expose the sad truth about communications services in America and to answer a fundamental question — How did we get into this mess and what can we do to fix it today?
Bruce Kushnick, author, senior telecom analyst and industry insider, lays out, in all of the gory details, how America paid over $400 billion to be the first fully fiber optic-based nation yet ended up 27th in the world for high-speed Internet (40th in upload speeds). But this is only a part of this story.
It is Time for Audits, Investigations, Accountability, Oversight, Enforcement, Un-Manipulated Data, Transparency and Ethics.
- SPECIAL: How to Get New York City and New York State
- Competition Now: Re-open the phone networks (as well as the cable networks) to direct competition. Customers should regain the right to choose their own ISP (Internet), cable, broadband and phone provider over the wires coming into homes and offices — that they paid for.
- Broadband Scandal: Start immediate investigations into the commitments that were made to upgrade homes, offices, schools and libraries with fiber optics, replacing the aging copper wires, as well as the billions charged to customers per-state.
- Deceptive Billing: Everyone reading this knows that their bills are littered with ‘made up’ fees, pass-through-taxes, and the advertised price means nothing. Let real competition and ‘choice’ lower rates and fix deceptive sales practices.
- Investigate the Time Warner and Comcast Social Contracts; actual agreements with the FCC to wire schools and charge customers.
- Investigate the massive financial shell game and cross-subsidies we uncovered between and among the wired networks and the companies’ wireless services and other lines of business.
- Separate the companies’ control of the wires and airwaves because— “The Companies that Control the Wires Control Access & America’s Communications Future.”.
Everyone Gets Upgraded: How Do We Get There? Broken Promises provides extensive documentation and a proactive plan, a road-map on how states and cities can take advantage and leverage the companies’ failed broadband commitments and the companies’ questionable financial and business practices. The goal — Move America to an open, very fast, fiber optic-based, yet affordable, broadband, Internet, and cable service for everyone — since everyone paid for it over and over and over.
Check Out the Details: The Book of Broken Promises is the third in a trilogy spanning 18 years. See the Fact Sheet, Table of Contents, details of “$200 Billion Broadband Scandal” featured on Bill Moyer’s PBS “The Net at Risk”, in 2006 (with over 730,000 downloads) and “The Unauthorized Bio of the Baby Bells”, (with Foreword by Dr. Bob Metcalfe), published in 1998.
NOTE: WE ARE ALREADY WORKING ON CHANGE
Broken Promises is based on over 20 years of research and analysis. However, it is not just a history book; it has been enhanced by the work of New Networks Institute’s team of independent experts, analysts, auditors and lawyers who have been working on projects together over the last decade.
From helping to get communities upgraded to fiber optics in New Jersey or in New York, (in 2012-2014), filing complaints at the FCC and at the state commissions, or helping to develop current and successful, settled class action suits (getting customers back tens of millions of dollars), Broken Promises uses this wealth of expertise to create an active guide for real change and it documents, in detail, the reasons why fixing communications is now an imperative.
Want to be part of the change? [email protected]
Civic Hall Book Day — Tuesday, April 28, 2015
156 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor, New York City
Other authors and speakers include:
- 8:30 AM – Susan Crawford, author, Captive Audience and The Responsive City
- 12:00 PM – Astra Taylor, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power
- 2:00 PM – Afternoon snack with featured authors
Bruce Kushnick author of The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal and Free the Net
Allison Fine author of Matterness: Fearless Leadership for a Social World
- 5:00 PM – Micah L. Sifry, The Big Disconnect, Why the Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics
- 6:00 PM Poetry in the Café, Happy Hour with Alissa Quart, author of Monetized
New Networks Institute & Teletruth Activities, 2013-2015
Net Neutrality and Verizon’s Use of Title II
- New Networks Institute’s (NNI) work in highlighted in the FCC’s Internet Order, and influenced some of new added safeguards pertaining to billing and disclosure issues, March 2015.
- NNI & Teletruth have filed a Petition for the FCC to investigate whether Verizon has committed perjury as Verizon has failed to disclose to the FCC, courts or public that their entire financial investments are based on Title II; filed January 13th, 2015.
- Ars Technica Featured article: FCC urged to investigate Verizon’s “two-faced” statements on utility rules
- Verizon has responded with a letter denying our claims, filed, January 20th, 2015
- New Networks Institute & Teletruth Response to Verizon, Feb 23rd, 2015
- Verizon: Show Us the Money PART I: Verizon’s FiOS, Fiber Optic Investments, and Title I. – Part 1 is a supplement to the original Petition for Investigation.
- Letter to the FCC, Comments: Open Internet proceeding. RE: Verizon’s Fiber Optic Networks are “Title II” — Here’s What the FCC Should Do. DOCKET: Open Internet Proceeding, (GN No.14-28)
- Comments First: FCC Open Internet Proceeding “Title Shopping: Solving Net Neutrality Requires Investigations” , July 14th, 2014
- Comment Second: Verizon’s FiOS Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) Networks are Already Title II in Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New York…
Time Warner Cable- Comcast Merger; New Findings
- Comcast and Time Warner Cable Merger In 2015 we filed a Petition for Investigation and Complaint against Time Warner Cable with the NYPSC and FCC to stop the mergers for multiple reasons, from deceptive billing and made up fees, to overcharging via the “Social Contract”. The “Social Contract”, an actual agreement between the cable companies and the FCC, allowed the companies to charge the cable subscribers for network upgrades and the wiring of the schools. The Contract ended in 2001, however we could find no schools wired under this program, and no removal of the additional charge of $5.00 a month, which started in the 1990’s.
- Some of this material was quoted in Mayor DeBlasio’s comments pertaining to the TWC Comcast merger with the NY PSC.
- Ars Technica article: Petition: Time Warner Cable mistreats customers, shouldn’t merge with Comcast
Examining the Financial Shell Game
- In May 2014, Public Utility Law Project, (PULP) published “It’s all Interconnected”, written by New Networks (with assistance by David Bergmann) and it relied on unexamined data from Verizon New York using different Verizon supplied financials books.
- The Verge: Game of Phones: How Verizon is playing the FCC and its customers, May 2014
- In 2010, NNI started an investigation of the financial books of five Verizon’s state-based utility phone companies, including Verizon New York and Verizon New Jersey and the ties to Verizon Communications affiliate companies, (subsidiaries) including Verizon Wireless, Verizon Online, Verizon Services, among others.Published in 2012
- In 2013, our next report focused on Verizon New York and was the centerpiece of a filing by Common Cause, Consumer Union, CWA, and the Fire Island Association, which called for an investigation of Verizon’s financials and business practices.
- The Connect New York Coalition, filed a Petition with the New York State Public Service Commission to do a formal investigation of Verizon New York. July 1, 2014. The Petition is based, in part, on NNI’s continuing research.
- Coalition members include AARP, Consumer Union, Common Cause, CWA, and NY state politicians.
- Event “Reverse ALEC Legal Hackathon” Thursday, January 31st, 2013, Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic (BLIP) and the New Networks Institute hosted a Reverse ALEC Legal Hackathon at Brooklyn Law School. The invitation-only event, something of an emergency meetup, brought together experts, lawyers, advocates, technologists and competitors, who are concerned with the state of telecommunications in the United States. The goal was to create consensus and build a campaign to define principles for model regulation, pursue legal actions, and create a working path to accomplish the following goals.
- New Book: The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net, Published New Networks Institute, February 2015.
The future of telecommunications in the U.S. is being played out on the sandy beaches of Fire Island, NY. Forget about not being upgraded to fiber optic services. Customers are “extremely disappointed,” “horrified,” “very frustrated,” with “grave distress and dissatisfaction” about Verizon’s plan to stop fixing their phone lines and…
- Part 1: AT&T et al and ALEC created state-based model communications legislation which was used in many states to remove regulation and oversight.
- Part 2: ALEC state-based laws end up as principles in AT&T’s petition to the FCC to close down America’s utility networks.
NRRI Report, May 2013
“Twenty-five states had passed legislation eliminating or reducing state commission authority over telecommunications by the end of the 2012 legislative sessions. By the end of 2013, this number could increase significantly, given the legislation pending in states across the country. Legislation reducing regulatory oversight (or clarifying the deregulation initiatives passed earlier) was proposed in 20 states during the 2013 legislative session… Should the majority of the legislation pending in the 2013 sessions be enacted, nearly 70% of the states will have significantly reduced or eliminated commission jurisdiction over retail telecommunications services.”
Let’s connect the dots.
Starting in 2007, AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink and the cable companies, working with a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), created state-based model legislation and principles designed by the companies to accomplish one thing — the removal of all regulations, obligations and oversight on the companies’ businesses. As the NRRI report outlines, 25 states have removed some, if not all regulations and oversight, and there are more to come in 2013.
We note that Sprint/Nextel left ALEC in 2012.
What do Free State Foundation, TechNet, Tech America, the National Grange, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Women Involved in Farm Economics, the Urban League and Al Sharpton have in common?
They are all backing AT&T’s FCC Petition, which has the goal to close down telecommunications networks and create digital dead zones in about 50 percent of the country. Most disturbing, many of the endorsements of AT&T contradict the needs of their own constituents.
Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the Georgia Legislature are pushing a bill to thwart locally-owned internet in underserved communities, an industry-sponsored effort that effectively reinforces the digital divide. A vote in the Georgia Assembly is scheduled for Thursday, March 7; if Georgia passes the bill it would be the twentieth state to eliminate community control over internet access.
Rural and Poor Communities Take Control of Internet
As many as one in ten Americans cannot get internet connections that are fast enough for basic activities like streaming video or file sharing, largely because big internet providers like AT&T and Time Warner Cable have refused to provide adequate service to communities where the population is too dispersed or too poor. As local economies become ever more dependent on internet access, though, this digital divide is leaving rural and low-income communities in the dust.
EDITORS NOTE: There are two primary campaigns being run by ALEC et al. The first is to block municipalities from upgrading their networks and offering services— 19 states already have changed their laws to block munis.
The second — close down all regulations on the wires — 23 states have already passed laws to do some if not remove all regulations.
Last year, we reported on the failed SB 135, which would have eliminated the “carrier of last resort” requirement in the state. The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Paul Hornback would have let AT&T decide who could receive basic telephone service and would have limited consumer protections.
Last year’s bill did not become law, but a progeny, SB 88, has already passed in the Kentucky Senate and was received in the House on February 15th. (We’d like to report what committee will hear it first but the Kentucky Legislative web has not yet published that information.) Senator Hornback is again the chief author of the bill, crafted by AT&T and its ALEC pals.