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US Telco monopoly revolts over having to buy better rural gear

by on07 January 2020

Just give us more subsidies for providing a third world service

The ugly side of the corporate oligarchy which is the United States is on full show as AT&T, Frontier, Windstream, and their industry lobby group fight against higher Internet speeds in a US subsidy programme for rural areas without good broadband access.

According to Ars Technica, the telcos are furious at the Federal Communications Commission's plan for the next version of its rural-broadband fund sets 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload as the "baseline" tier.

But the FCC plans to distribute funding for two higher-speed tiers: namely an "above-baseline" level of 100Mbps down and 20Mbps up, and a "gigabit performance" tier of 1Gbps down and 500Mbps up. It's the above-baseline tier of 100Mbps/20Mbps that providers object to—they either want the FCC to lower that tier's upload speeds or create an additional tier that would be faster than baseline but slower than above-baseline.

To put this into some perspective, this is not some socialist initiative being peddled by some touchy-feely leftie FCC.  This is being pushed by the gun touting FCC Chairman Ajit Pai who is so rabidly corporate he has already killed off net neutrality to allow the telco monopolies to make a killing.

Pai has portrayed the $2 billion-per-year fund's goal as modernising rural broadband by bringing up-to-gigabit speeds to remote corners of the nation. However, the telcos pushing lower standards are trying to ensure that ISPs offering much slower speeds so they can collect piles of taxpayer cash without having to make significant network upgrades. For those in Europe who might not understand the concept, those in the United States consider any taxpayer handouts to the poor, sick and needy bad, but giving tax handouts to rich corporates is fair game – after all, they create jobs. 

The above-baseline tier's upload target should be 10Mbps instead of 20Mbps, according to an FCC filing on December 23 by Frontier, Windstream, and lobby group USTelecom (which represents those two providers as well as AT&T, Verizon, and others). The providers and USTelecom claimed that 20Mbps upload speeds wouldn't benefit rural consumers much.

Two groups that represent smaller ISPs urged the FCC to reject calls for slower speeds. NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and ACA Connects (formerly the American Cable Association) pointed out in a filing today that the Connect America Fund Phase II auction already included a 100Mbps/20Mbps tier.

However, the smaller ISPs are rarely listened to because they don't have the cash to buy their own tame politician to press their case  lobby.



Last modified on 07 January 2020
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