Ajit Pai, Telecom Lobbyists Are Now Coordinating Their Lies In Perfect Symmetry

from the ill-communication dept

So we’ve made it pretty clear by now that the FCC’s entire justification for repealing net neutrality was based entirely on fluff and lobbyist nonsense. But because the Administrative Procedure Act requires that regulators actually provide hard data to justify massive reversals in policy, both the Ajit Pai FCC and his BFFs at Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have clung tightly to one, completely false claim: that net neutrality harmed network investment. But as we’ve stated countless times, that’s simply not true.

That’s not an opinion, it’s based on SEC filings, earnings reports, and the on-the-record statements of nearly a dozen telecom industry CEOs.

That undeniable fact hasn’t really bothered the folks at US Telecom, the telecom industry’s biggest lobbying and policy organization. The group last week penned a blog post with an accompanying graph proudly proclaiming that telecom network investment was on a sharp upward trajectory after the repeal of net neutrality. From the missive:

“Broadband investment rebounded in 2017, as a series of positive consumer and innovation policies and a pro-growth regulatory approach helped reverse the industry?s previous spending pullback, according to new research released today by USTelecom.”

“Lobbying organization’s skewed research confirms lobbying group’s claims! News at 11.” To “prove” their point, US Telecom released this handy graph showing the spike in 2017 investment:

One obvious problem: net neutrality wasn’t officially repealed until June of 2018, making any claim that the 2017 CAPEX spike was due to its repeal utterly laughable. And again, it’s worth noting that even the 2015 dip US Telecom leans so heavily on has been hotly contested. CAPEX dips in 2015 for AT&T, for example, came because the company ended a wave of U-Verse broadband upgrades, not because of net neutrality. Similar CAPEX dips at Charter occurred because the company ended the deployment of digital cable adapters. Other ISPs saw CAPEX spikes during that same period.

CAPEX and network investment fluctuations can occur due to a myriad of things, from a company ending its planned roll out of a new set top box, to the routine deployment of standard security improvements. ISPs routinely hire economists who are willing to fiddle with the math and cherry pick very specific windows of CAPEX to suggest net neutrality is to blame. But massaged data funded by telecom lobbyists isn’t science, it’s theater.

Meanwhile, defining the health of the industry based on CAPEX and investment alone is a fool’s errand, and if you want to truly judge said health, you’d need to look at the level of competition, consumer prices, and all of the obvious, ugly metrics you can be damn sure a telecom lobbying firm primarily bankrolled by AT&T isn’t going to want to talk much about.

Of course none of this stopped FCC head Ajit Pai from quickly issuing a statement (pdf) of his own, mirroring the industry’s false claims that his extremely-unpopular attacks on consumer protections were somehow directly responsible for the 2017 spike:

“Since my first day on the job, this agency has been focused on cutting through the regulatory red tape and increasing broadband investment, most importantly in rural America where the digital divide remains all too real. Today?s report confirms that the FCC?s policies to promote broadband deployment are working. After Internet service providers reduced new investments in 2015 and 2016 under the prior Administration?s regulatory approach, broadband investment increased in 2017 by $1.5 billion over the previous year. That?s real progress for American consumers, and another step toward better, faster, and cheaper broadband for all Americans.”

Can we again stop to appreciate the U.S. government parroting lobbyist talking points and filing lawsuits in perfect unison without absolutely ZERO concern for the ethics or optics? One yearns for the day when we used to at least pretend that lobbyists weren’t directly dictating tech policy, leaving genuine consumer welfare a distant afterthought.

Again, like so many other aspects of the Trump era, the hope is that if you repeat a lie frequently and often enough, it becomes truth in the minds of Americans (or at least in the minds of your partisan supporters). But as John Adams once declared, facts are stubborn things, and no matter how many press releases he issues, the facts aren’t on Ajit Pai’s side.

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Companies: ustelecom

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Comments on “Ajit Pai, Telecom Lobbyists Are Now Coordinating Their Lies In Perfect Symmetry”

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36 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Can we also talk for a second about how utterly misleading those bar graphs are?

CAPEX from 2015-2016 went down approximately $3 Billion absolute dollars or about 4%. BUT, the bar itself shrunk by around 50% (maybe more) in the eyeball test.

(Here’s an accurate representation of the spending data. This is exactly how flat the spending graph SHOULD look: https://www.meta-chart.com/share/untitled-26288).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The industrys calculation and Pais views are pretty reasonable: It is better to have a crappy internet everywhere as opposed to supplying enough cables to meet increasing demand in existing markeds: More customers complaining is better than fewer happy customers since happy doesn’t increase earnings!

AndD (profile) says:

inconsistent

You guys spend copious amounts of space telling us how bad net neutrality would be for the web. Telling us things like: email doesn’t need as high a priority as video, for instance. Or how various companies – Netflix for instance – could negotiate and pay higher premiums to get into the fast lane (sounds like the way capitalism is supposed to work). Now you pontificate on the loss of net neutrality and want everything to move equally through the system regardless of its importance or requirements. How about cutting to the chase and advocate the web, and internet connections, be classified as a utility and have it managed and governed as such – no different than the phone companies or the electric companies. But regardless of what you advocate, become consistent!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: inconsistent

Who is “you guys” here? If Techdirt, then:

“Telling us things like: email doesn’t need as high a priority as video, for instance. Or how various companies – Netflix for instance – could negotiate and pay higher premiums to get into the fast lane (sounds like the way capitalism is supposed to work).”

[citation needed]

Which article? Without knowing what articles and words you’re referring to, it’s difficult to accurately discuss. My own general memory of Techdirt articles indicates that this is an incorrect reading of what Techdirt has said in the past.

While Netflix has been noted as being able to negotiate for the fast lanes, that was brought up, based on memory, as an example of how Netflix can do it because they have the cash, but new entries in to the market would not be able to. This is an example how the death of Net Neutrality put the ISPs in the position of being gatekeepers, and could determine who would even be able to access whole markets.

Techdirt has been pretty consistent in decrying ISPs-as-gatekeepers as a bad thing.

Of course, if “you guys” is someone other than Techdirt, all I can say is to try and be more specific.

Odd's Bodkin says:

Re: Re: inconsistent -- Oh, here's an "AC" neatly refuting.

Gosh, it’s like “AndD” set up a neat easy target for an obvious Techdirt supporter — though one who doesn’t have an “account”, or at least not used, common trick here to make it look as though are more commenting.

My opinion is that “AndD” and AC are both astro-turfing, the old reply-to-self trick.

New readers (IF any) should ALWAYS check “accounts” before replying. Some like “AndD” with 3 comments and four year gap are visibly odd at a glance. Don’t be fooled by the obvious ones, at least…

Odd's Bodkin says:

Re: Hey, SLOW DOWN "AndD"! Your 2nd comment was less than month ago!

Your first was FOUR YEARS AGO.

Are you going to be another sudden bloomer like "Gary"?

https://www.techdirt.com/user/darkflite

Jumped from 12 in first two years to 360 per year now! And after coming to my notice with a little criticism of Techdirt, is now ardent supporter, jumping into every topic with a few bland lines.

I won’t be surprised, long past that. Are TEN "accounts" with over six year gaps, dozens with 3-4-5, and especially an 18 month gap after first is notably WEIRD.

Odd too and "commenting" today is Vic B or vic: 60 comments total (6 per year), 26 month gap 2014, going back to 13 Feb 2009!

https://www.techdirt.com/user/vicbee

Just odd that someone maintains interest for NINE years yet only comments every couple months.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: inconsistent

If your business requires a high speed, high reliability connection between two non co-located installations …. there are services you can pay extra for. Telecoms have what was called a “nailed connection” and it does not even need the internet.

“fast lane (sounds like the way capitalism is supposed to work)”
– Sounds like bullshit. Technically, capitalism does not require corruption.

“want everything to move equally through the system regardless of its importance or requirements”
– Not so. Equally does not necessarily mean at the same speed.

“How about cutting to the chase and advocate the web, and internet connections, be classified as a utility”
– Have you been reading this blog for more than a few months?

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: email doesn't need as high a priority as video

Certainly E-mail has different quality-of-service requirements from video. One can draw up a whole spectrum of QoS characteristics, from “do your best to make sure the bits get through, even if it means a bit of delay” (e.g. file-transfer applications), to “get the bits through as quickly as possible, even if it means dropping a few” (e.g. real-time telephony and video).

But these are issues for the application to decide. The ISP has no business making these decisions for the customer: their job is to just provide a dumb pipe that does what it’s told. The whole raison d’être of the Internet is that people are free to come up with bright ideas for new kinds of applications at any time, without having to seek permission from the network providers first.

rkhalloran (profile) says:

Re: inconsistent

The point of net neutrality isn’t QoS, which the prior rules specifically allowed for.

The point is that startup site XYZ should have no more barriers to customer access than Netflix/FB/Google/etc . If XYZ can buy the bandwidth to get their content onto the Net, they should have as much access to customers as the Big Four. This is the basic disruptive nature of the ‘Net. The latter being able to ‘pay the Danegeld’ to various ISPs in order to reach those customers at full speed is LITERAL rent-seeking behavior that the NN rules were meant to prevent.

This is the ISPs picking market winners based on their ability to pay for prioritized access to those customer bases, and is completely anti-competitive. For all the conservatives’ trumpeting about free markets, this is anything but, and their failure to acknowledge as much brands them for what they really are.

ECA (profile) says:

REALLY love that Table..

Can anyone really read that thing??
Billion SPENT on upgrades,,,,
78..77.5..74.8..76.3 BILLION..

I would like a list of Improvements OUTSIDE of the office furniture, and Wage increases for the top people.

I will bet those numbers MIGHT be close, but the Table is REALLY Skewed.. fluctuation of 74 to 78..IS NOT a big leap.
And funny that we are CHOPPING 1/2 the Lines because of 4 billion..

I eally think there needs to be a FULL IRS audit…Count every item and find every dollar spent.
WE know that the Fed, gave them money and contracts, we KNOW they have abused the STATE contracts, but where are the repercussions?

WHy are we afraid of fighting back against the Corps??
SO WHAT THEY LEAVE…And we look at their Employee list and HIRE the REAL TECHS…not the bill collectors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ajit Pai, future VP of Comcast Sales (or possibly Verizon he hasn’t decided which of his masters to go to yet) has taken multi-million dollar “campaign contributions” (he’s not running for any office under an election where he needs money).

i.e. Ajit Pai has taken illegal bribes, betrayed his entire country and all for a few measly dollars.

What a piece of criminal dogshit he actually is.

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