Now That The FCC Is Doing Away With Title II For Broadband, Will Verizon Give Back The Taxpayer Subsidies It Got Under Title II?

from the questions,-questions dept

Now that the FCC has done as it said it was going to do and declared that broadband internet is properly classified under Title I of the Communications Act, rather than Title II, I’m left wondering if taxpayers will be getting back all the subsidies that we provided Verizon, AT&T and others when they claimed that their broadband networks should be classified under Title II in order to qualify for those subsidies. You may recall that we wrote about this three years ago, highlighting multiple examples where Verizon specifically begged for Title II classification of its fiber-to-the-premise networks in multiple cities to guarantee that it would get these subsidies.

See, for example, Verizon begging to be classified under Title II in New Jersey.

Or how about something similar in Washington DC: in DC.

Somehow, I imagine that Verizon has no intention of paying back taxpayers for those benefits. I mean, why would it? This is the very same company that has repeatedly promised massive broadband deployment in exchange for subsidies, and then repeatedly failed to deliver and, when called on it, gets local politicians to drop the promises (but not the subsidies).

The Title II shell game appears to be more of the same. Make sure that its networks get declared as Title II to get the subsidies and tax breaks, then avoid any of the requirements/regulations of Title II, but keep all the benefits. Somehow I don’t see FCC chair Ajit Pai being too concerned about all of this.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “Now That The FCC Is Doing Away With Title II For Broadband, Will Verizon Give Back The Taxpayer Subsidies It Got Under Title II?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

oh look more dissonance!

If Verizon was a Title II entity when those subsidies were received then it would be illegal to demand repayment after the law was changed because it becomes tantamount to “ex post facto law”

Once again Mike… full support for corrupt bullshit government activity as long as it serves your political dogma.

Now repayment demands for failing to live up their contractual obligations for receiving those subsidies is fair game. Please keep your head on straight!

Or we can jut go and weaken or destroy ex post facto law so you can have your cake and eat it too. Advancing corruption in government is the go to solution for everyone’s problems these days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Seems they want to have it both ways … and for everyone to not notice or at least not say anything about it.”

They always do, the problem here is the constant focus on the businesses instead of the politicians making it all possible. But that means that people have to vote out their own party to correct the corruption and that just is not going to happen… meaning… lets all find a band-aid to hide the boo-boo and a scapegoat to blame.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“This isn’t a political post”

It is better to be thought of as being stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

It’s about subsidies which means… political issue. How are you not able to understand that? Or does your political dogma require a certain amount of intellectual bullshit to believe in?

Jason Nichols says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, but it IS law. The law provides the framework for these agencies, giving them the authority/power to make these decisions, and providing the classification system. It may not be a direct legal action but it is one that has made its way through congressionaly determined practices (which means it is law) and the courts will soon be getting involved when the lawsuits got.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Uh, no.

It’s law when a bill which has been passed by Congress, and signed (or at least not vetoed) by the President, and not overturned by a relevant court, contains language which authorizes it.

As these agencies have been established by such language in such bills, and granted the power to make regulations in certain areas by such language in such bills, the regulations which they make in those areas have the force of law.

Or in other words: the way in which Congress has chosen to make law in these areas is by stating that “as long as what this designated organization says does not stray outside of certain boundaries, whatever that organization says is law, is law”. (The policing of those boundaries being done by the relevant courts, based on the wording of the bill which was passed by Congress.)

That statement has made it past both houses of Congress (as witness the votes which passed the bills in question), and past the President (as witness the lack of veto of those bills), and has not been rejected by the relevant courts (although whether it has been raised before them I do not know).

You may (and some people here clearly do) think that this represents an unconstitutional act on the part of Congress, and that the failure of the President and/or the courts to rein that in represents a dereliction of duty on the part of the other branches of government.

But if you want to advocate that position effectively, you need to do so by arguing it explicitly as such – not by arguing about the meaning of the words involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Doofus, no one is talking about taking back the money they already received from subsidies, they are worried (rather, rolling their eyes at the fact) that the telecon giants are going to continue to collect this subsidy indefinitely despite their current title status being in dispute. Because, you know, it’s not like the industry hasn’t already literally stolen billions of dollars of tax payer money for a fiber-to-the-door network that was supposed to be at least 20% completed almost 20 years ago and is no where near that now. Maybe the dissonance is preventing you from realizing you are likely still paying them for this service on every internet bill you pay/have paid since the 90s. Not really trying to drill into your head the fact that you’re a dolt, as you must be aware, just the fact that it’s not exactly unhealthy to be wary of telecom companies and watch their moves carefully.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Doofus, no one is talking about taking back the money they already received from subsidies,”

I can accept that you could be right about that… but if they start talking about they giving it back would it be much of a stretch for someone to want to “legally” enforce that?

“that the telecon giants are going to continue to collect this subsidy indefinitely despite their current title status being in dispute.”

Wait… the article does not state that they are going to continue to collect those subsidies. Please point out the line stating that because I must be overlooking it.

“Because, you know, it’s not like the industry hasn’t already literally stolen billions of dollars of tax payer money for a fiber-to-the-door network that was supposed to be at least 20% completed almost 20 years ago and is no where near that now.”

Sir you are greatly in error… it has been going on for far longer than a meager 20 years… try a Century!

I agree with TD and most of the Pro-NN guys that there is definitely a problem… I just disagree with the solution to that problem.

“Maybe the dissonance is preventing you from realizing you are likely still paying them for this service on every internet bill you pay/have paid since the 90s.”

I hold no dissonance in regards to that. I want regulations protecting these monopolies to be destroyed while everyone else is just trying to play “keep the weak-sauce NN rules by Wheeler” which will NOT stop them from screwing people.

“Not really trying to drill into your head the fact that you’re a dolt, as you must be aware, just the fact that it’s not exactly unhealthy to be wary of telecom companies and watch their moves carefully.”

We have been playing this regulations will save us farce for decades now… who is the dolt? NN is the same old solution re-gifted for the next retarded generation. Last administration the box of shit had a blue bow, this time it is just a red bow. There is still shit in the same box!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I want regulations protecting these monopolies to be destroyed while everyone else is just trying to play “keep the weak-sauce NN rules by Wheeler” which will NOT stop them from screwing people.

Well, you do remove rules that help protect customers until after you have dealt with the monopoly problem. What is happening at the moment in a forced disarmament of customers, while enabling the ISPs to invent new ways ape their customers, and damage those parts of the Internet that they think is damaging their cable TV business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Answer: no.

Is there any utility to rhetorical questions where the answer is obvious and inevitable?

Now, should a corporation not do everything legal it can for advantage in whatever regulatory regime?

Do you believe that a corporation should NOT act in its own interests but in ways you construe as for some public good?

Are you ever going to be consistent and apply your “public good” principle to all corporations?

Can you make it any more obvious that you hate Verizon and a few other corporations, while love and support others, your precious Google for instance, relevant here because also an ISP and also goes to gov’t for special favors?

Couldn’t you find a more lame topic and line of attack? — Alternately: why and how do you avoid all better topics?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Answer: no.

Why do corporations claim, in their ads, that they are good citizens of the community all the while behind you back they are busy sticking the knife in? Liars and cheats raise to the top and climb that latter much more easily than those who actually have a conscience. Not sure why this kill or be killed attitude is painted to depict an entity that is simply trying to survive – complete bullshit it is. The excuse of being required to maximize shareholder value is also complete crappola.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Answer: no.

Can you make it any more obvious that you hate Verizon and a few other corporations, while love and support others

Is that why you feverishly suck the cocks of Pai and the RIAA? Because you feel apologetic for them?

People can like some companies and dislike others? Wow, that is fucking groundbreaking knowledge right there. It’s almost like people have different perspectives and agreements, what an intellectual shocker! And here I thought you were trying to paint it as something nasty and evil to further your own pathetic agenda…

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

In other career paths, a lack of knowledge and experience will put your resume in the circular file

I think you are entirely misunderstanding and underestimate Ajit Pai. As a leader of an agency like the FCC, his knowledge and experience are certainly enough to work with. After all, he has the knowledge and experience of the entire agency to work with in addition to his past career.

His absolute lack of personal and missive ethics is much more problematic, and he is able to overplay that comparatively effectively with a clown act you apparently fell for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Not true, you fail to understand that his “advisors” could be there to help him discover loopholes or ways to corrupt things. Assuming “It doesn’t matter how good one’s advisors are if one never listens to them.” is a blind assumption.

Ajit and his “advisors” were good enough to destroy NN. Constantly downplaying success of ones opponents often does not play into your favor because it potentially leads your group to underestimate the opponent and overestimate themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

In politics NOTHING is clean cut and dry.

The “dogma” comes before all other things even nation. You must first find a way to get your group on board with your idea so that it can be politicized and dogmatized. Lie, Truth… neither matters, what matters is just how convincing you can be with your idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Annoyed

I realize your comment is meant as sarcasm and not a declaration of actual factual belief, but for the benefit of those who may harbor any residuum of belief that your declaration is accurate…no, the USG does not by law own the underlying technology. There is some “stuff” in which it may be able to claim a right of ownership, but that “stuff” would numerically and substantively be insignificant at best.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Annoyed

But they are allowed to “grant” them to businesses that ahem… grease the right palms and scratch the right backs resulting in no actual fucking difference!

It is amazing how people here piss and moan about the little meaningless shit while much bigger fish need a nuclear fucking frying!

Anonymous Coward says:

Bait and Switch - an American Tradition

Also known as “getting one’s foot in the door” or “the thin end of the wedge” and numerous other terms for the common tactic of subversive sales techniques followed by broken promises.

We all know the answer as to whether or not a company will voluntary give back something it didn’t legitimately earn.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Okay then…

State your proof that there is not a “Welfare State” for big business. I guess you missed all of those TARP bailouts that started with Bush? All those “subsidies”, “tax breaks”, and “blessed monopolies”?

Or are you just being contrary because your only job is to run around being a troll?

David says:

Dont pay the fiber man!

And then the fiber man said,
“There is trouble ahead,
So you must pay me now,” – “Don’t do it!”
“You must pay me now,” – “Don’t do it!”
And still that voice came from beyond,
“Whatever you do,

Don’t pay the fiber man,
Don’t even fix a price,
Don’t pay the fiber man,
Until he gets it to the other side;

Don’t pay – the fiber man!”

ECA (profile) says:

The fund is supported by charging telecommunications companies a fee which is set quarterly. As of the third quarter of 2016, the rate is 17.9%[2] of a telecom company’s interstate and international end-user revenues.

“Federal Subscriber Line” charges, which are access fees charged by telecommunications companies, not the local or federal government.

The major goals of Universal Service as mandated by the 1996 Act are as follows:

Promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable and affordable rates for all consumers
Increase nationwide access to advanced telecommunications services
Advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas, at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas
Increase access to telecommunications and advanced services in schools, libraries and rural health care facilities
Provide equitable and non-discriminatory contributions from all providers of telecommunications services to the fund supporting universal service programs
— Federal Communications Commission, Universal Service

Adding additional services to the fund has corporate support from major telecommunication companies, including Verizon and AT&T. In March 2009, senior executives from Verizon Communications met with the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, providing recommendations for how best to proceed, bringing broadband and mobile communication access to rural and unserved areas. Citing reform to the Universal Service Fund as a means “to better serve rural America,” Verizon recommended that a limit be set on the size of USF’s high-cost fund; competitive bidding wars be employed to determine which company expand service to unserved areas; structure a “wire-center approach” model to replace statewide cost averaging; restructure how contributions to the USF are determined; and impose a deadline on the FCC for completion of their reform of inter-carrier compensation.[18]

In October 2011 the FCC formally proposed a “Connect America Fund” to address these and other concerns.[19] Reform finally arrived on October 27, 2011, when the FCC approved a six-year transfer process that would transition money from the Universal Service Fund to a new $4.5 billion a year Connect America Fund that will support the expansion of broadband services to areas that don’t have broadband access yet.[20][21]

Connect America Fund[edit]
The largest and most complex of the four programs, the high cost program subsidizes telecommunications services in rural and remote areas. The program paid out $4.17 billion in subsidies to telecommunications companies in 2013,[26] with a goal of making telecommunications affordable to rural and remote areas. The program has been criticized as wasteful, granting large sums of money to telecommunications companies while having little effect on access.[27]

As part of the National Broadband Plan proposed in March 2010, the FCC proposed reorganizing the High Cost program into a new “Connect America Fund”, which will include both voice and 4 Mbit/s internet connectivity.[28] On October 27, 2011, the FCC approved a six-year transfer process that would transition the money from the Universal Service Fund High-Cost Program into the new $4.5 billion a year Connect America Fund, effectively putting an end to the USF High-Cost Fund by 2018.[20][21][29]

In 2012, during “Phase I” of the Connect America Fund, $115 million in subsidies were given out to build out broadband in 37 states, with $71.9 million going to Frontier Communications and $35 million to Century Link, with AT&T and Verizon declining to participate.[30] In 2013, also during “Phase I”, CenturyLink accepted another $54 million,[31] and AT&T accepted $100 million.[32]

In March 2014, the FCC approved “Phase II” of the transition to the Connect America Fund, adding 1.8 billion a year in funding,[33] and clarifying the specifics of the funding process. Under the framework the FCC approved, incumbent carriers have priority access to subsidies, but if the funds are declined, the funds are allocated by a competitive bidding process. The FCC also proposed upping the minimum speed requirement from 4Mbit/s to 10Mbit/s.[34] In May 2014, the 10th circuit court of appeals upheld the shift in funds in the face of a legal challenge by telephone companies.[35][36]

The Connect America Fund also includes the Mobility Fund, which is given to wireless carriers who expand service to underserved areas. “Phase I” of the Mobility Fund offered $300 million for a September 2012 round of auctions, and “Phase II” of the Mobility Fund plans to give out $500 million in annual support.[37]

Low income (Lifeline)[edit]
Since 1985, the Lifeline program has helped low-income people pay for phone service; first landlines, then cellphones, and as of 2016 it also offers the option of Internet connectivity.[38] It provides a subsidy of up to $10.00 a month for Americans below 135% of the poverty line for this service.[39]

As of 2012, 17 million households received a $9.25 subsidized discount through the program. This was down to 12 million households by 2015.[40][38] In 2013, the lifeline program paid out $1.8 billion in subsidies to telephone companies; reduced to 1.5 billion by 2015.[26][38] As the original program was set up to cover land lines, there was criticism of the increasing use of the fund to cover wireless service,[39] as well as significant waste in the program.[41][42] Residents of Native American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities may qualify for enhanced Lifeline assistance (up to an additional $25.00) and expanded Link-Up support (up to an additional $70.00). States with their own programs may have their own eligibility guidelines.

In February 2017, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai suspended the expansion of Lifeline. While current broadband providers are technically authorized to provide subsidized broadband, the FCC itself could not point to a single company that actively provides broadband.[48]

Now go read the rest yourself..

That One Guy (profile) says:

Ah blatant hypocrisy

Clamoring to be classified as falling under Title II when it benefited them, screaming and wailing that being classified as falling under Title II would be the death of the industry when it came to rules restricting them.

Not only will they not give so much as a cent back, I suspect that even now they’ll try to argue that they should still get the subsidies, ‘to better serve the public’ of course.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Ah blatant hypocrisy

The true hypocrisy here is forcing internet companies into title II and then getting pissed off because they claim the benefits. Sort of like pushing your elderly parents into a retirement castle and then being upset that they learned how to play shuffleboard.

They did what you told them to do.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ah blatant hypocrisy

No, they threw a tantrum when they got both the good and the bad.

A quick check of that first link would have shown that Verizon was claiming that they fell under Title II before the FCC reclassified them, so they clearly wanted the benefits of being classified as such, they just didn’t want the the FCC to have the ability to reign them in using Title II classification.

They were the ones claiming that they fell under Title II when it benefited them, if anything the FCC at the time merely made if official.

Anonymous Coward says:

FTTP is not much use to you if the ISPs can throttle it at whim.

It’s all very well building superhighways to your front door, but not if the ISPs can throw rocks across them, block lanes and choke them all up with badvertising.

“We’ll build a 12-lane superhighway to your kitchen, but to help pay for it, you may have to share it with a little bit of traffic, and some of that may be carrying open raw sewage that might spill over as they come to a sudden halt. But it’s OK. We’ll make sure they pay their registration and licensing fees before allowing them on the road.”

JoeCool (profile) says:

Funny story

I just moved, and at my new place, my ONLY choice for broadband is Spectrum. I had them install internet only. Not a couple hours after installation, I got a call from the Spectrum sales dept, trying to get me to add TV service. He actually used this as a sale pitch – “Now that net neutrality is dead, it’s going to be a lot harder to stream. If you expect to get your entertainment via streaming, you’re going to be sorely disappointed before the year is up.”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Funny story

But that can’t be true, was the public not pinky-promised that removing network neutrality rules wouldn’t result in exactly those kinds of shenanigans? Repeatedly told that people raising those concerns were nothing more than paranoid nuts spinning completely unrealistic and hyperbolic ‘what if?’ scenarios?

I’m sure you merely misheard them, as there’s just no possible way a company would use the repeal of rules meant to keep them from abusing their positions in order to abuse their position.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Funny story

Yeah, there’s nothing surprising about them lying, what is(though probably shouldn’t be) is that they would be so blatant in their ‘Nice streaming services you’ve got there, be a shame if something were to happen to it…’ attempt to strong-arm you into signing up for more expensive services.

Before they were at least somewhat subtle about it, I guess with the FCC so clearly on their side they don’t feel the need to even pretend any more.

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