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Why Our Phones and Internet Are Being Threatened by a Big Telecom Privatization Scheme

Consumers stand to lose big-time if the FCC and its corporate friends get their way.

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TAC should be seen as a “technology” council positioned to change public policies.

Who Protects the Public Interest?

The end of the PSTN is a victory for those championing corporate privatization. Unlike the models being adopted by the military as well as by hospitals, social service agencies and even municipal custodial functions, customers are overcharged for the privilege of having corporations privatize publicly funded networks. It signals an end to the notion of communications as a utility. 

The FCC is promoting a program to benefit the short-term interests of AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and the other telecom trust players. The obvious question is: Who is protecting the public interest? It’s surely not the FCC!

With rare exception, FCC commissioners and staff gladly pass through the telecom industry’s revolving door and end up serving corporate interests. Baker’s jumping to Comcast was pretty obvious, but let’s not forget that Powell is now head of the cable trade group, NCTA; Kevin Martin became co-chair at Patton Boggs, Washington's highest-grossing lobbying firm; William Kennard took a senior position at the Carlyle Group; and Reed Hundt has worked at McKinsey and the Blackstone Group. Not bad career moves.

The Communications Trust is rolling the dice on America’s future. They are gambling, with the FCC’s complicity, that the nation’s future will be wireless. It is a fool’s game. 

Except for being able to be “mobile” with your phone, wireless is an inferior technology, especially for broadband or to compete with cable. And more to the point, every wireless phone call hits a cell tower that is connected to a wire owned by the phone companies.

Today, the U.S. ranks 17th in broadband services. In all likelihood, the unspoken “conspiracy” by the FCC and its technology advisers will lead to ending the PSTN. Most troubling, killing off the PSTN signals de-investment in network infrastructure, especially the build-out of fiber to the home. 

Failure to achieve fiber-to-the-home will further stall the U.S.’s development of a truly 21st-century broadband (e.g., 1 Gig), bi-directional network. Sadly, the FCC, working closely with TAC, will guarantee that U.S. telecom remains oh-so 20th century. 

David Rosen is regular contributor to AlterNet, Brooklyn Rail, Filmmaker and IndieWire. His website is DavidRosenWrites.com. He can be reached at drosennyc@verizon.net.

 

Bruce Kushnick is a telecommunications industry analyst who serves as the broadband and telecommunications expert for Harvard Nieman’s Foundation for Journalism’s Watchdog, and a founding member of Teletruth, a customer advocacy group.  He can be reached at bruce@newnetworks.com.
 
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