Everytime AT&T Wants Federal Approval Of Merger Or Policy, It Promises It's Necessary To Deliver 100% Broadband… Then Doesn't Deliver
from the because-fulfilling-promises-is-hard dept
We’ve covered in the past how Verizon has a long history of making promises to regulators to get special deals, and then never delivering. Usually these promises involve providing high speed fiber to the home connections, for which they get massive tax breaks and subsidies… and then never delivering. And, if people finally point out that it didn’t deliver, it lobbies to drop the requirements that it had agreed to abide by (but never actually did). Of course, there’s a very similar story with AT&T, and telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick, who’s been the leading voice on these broken promises for years, has the details. In fact, what he notes is that AT&T has made some rather specific promises about providing broadband to get approval of mergers, but has never delivered. And now it’s doing the same for its attempted merger with DirecTV.
He notes that, first, AT&T (then called SBC) promised a massive fiber broadband in 2004, as part of convincing the FCC to kill off open access requirements for fiber optic networks. So did BellSouth (eventually bought up by AT&T). And yet, the numbers they promised were never met. Because, of course they weren’t. Then, when the AT&T was buying BellSouth a few years later, it promised to offer 100% broadband penetration.
AT&T will use the merger synergies to expand its plans to build and enhance high-speed broadband service to 15 million customer locations, mostly in rural areas where AT&T does not provide high-speed broadband service today, utilizing a combination of technologies including fiber to the premises and fixed wireless local loop capabilities.”
Huh. As Kushnick points out: “If AT&T is already supposed to have 100% completed, how can 15 million locations — at least 20% of all AT&T areas, not already have high speed broadband?” This certainly suggests that AT&T just flat out lied to help get the earlier merger completed.
Meanwhile, Karl Bode is pointing out that it’s not just on the wireline side that this happens. Jump over to the wireless side, and its attempted (but failed) acquisition of T-Mobile, and you’ll find a similar story:
AT&T does the same thing with wireless. Back when AT&T was trying to get approval to acquire T-Mobile, the company shot itself in the foot by accidentally posting a confidential document showing it would cost AT&T just $3.8 billion more to go from 80% nationwide LTE coverage to 97% coverage, something AT&T had been claiming was only possible if they were allowed to pay $39 billion to eliminate T-Mobile.
Of course, what we’ve now learned is that the telcos appear to know that they can pretty much say whatever they want, as long as it sounds good, because no politician or regulator is likely to ever look back and call them out on their previous unmet promises.