Telecom's Top Lobbying Arm Oddly Keeps Undermining The Industry's Own Claims About Net Neutrality

from the ill-communication dept

The telecom industry (and by proxy Ajit Pai’s) primary justification for killing net neutrality — and FCC authority over ISPs in general — was that sector oversight was stunting network investment. Of course repeated analysis of the data shows that simply isn’t true, but that hasn’t stopped telecom lobbyists and the lawmakers who love them from repeating those claims in the hopes that repetition forges reality.

And while telecom lobbying organizations like US Telecom continue to cling tight to this false narrative, the “science” they’ve been shoveling out in recent months to try and “prove” these claims leaves a little something to be desired. Last October, for example, US Telecom released a study it claimed somehow proved that the Ajit Pai’s attacks on net neutrality had boosted broadband investment:

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.”

The problem: net neutrality wasn’t actually repealed until June of 2018.

This week, US Telecom released another study crowing about what’s some fairly modest recent broadband deployment growth. As part of the report, the industry highlights how US fiber deployment jumped from 21 to 29% of US homes between 2015 to 2017, a period when the FCC’s classification of ISPs as Title II common carriers (purportedly an investment killer) was in effect:

“In just a year and a half, from the end of 2015 to mid-2017, U.S. fiber deployment grew from 21 percent to 29 percent of homes and competitive availability of wired broadband at 25 megabits per second (mbps) download and 3 mbps upload increased from 31 percent to 55 percent. At lower speed tiers, and if fixed wireless is included, competitive availability is even greater: 77 percent at 10 mbps download and 1 mbps upload; and 91 percent at any speed. By mid-2017, broadband at 100 mbps download was available to 89 percent of Americans, compared to 10 percent in 2010. Moreover, fiber deployment and competitive availability of broadband at higher speeds continue to grow rapidly today, driven by competitive upgrades.”

So one, it should be noted that this growth is solid but not spectacular by any means; it would likely be significantly higher if one of US Telecom’s top missions wasn’t to try and stifle meaningful sector competition at every conceivable opportunity. Still, this period — from 2015 (when the FCC created its latest net neutrality rules) to 2017 — was the exact period in which the industry keeps telling us it suffered from “unprecedented” and “heavy handed regulation” like net neutrality that stifled industry investment. And yet here US Telecom is insisting that the exact period exhibited “rapid” growth “driven by competitive upgrades.” Why it’s almost as if the telecom sector’s top lobbyists aren’t ideologically or ethically consistent.

Of course the firm then proceeds to proclaim that if we want this growth (that wasn’t supposed to exist) to continue, we need to double down on policies that embrace an “investment-friendly environment” that will allow this growth to continue. Oh, and more subsidies for US Telecom’s client companies who’ve already received billions, of course:

“Therefore, it will remain imperative for policymakers to maintain an investment-friendly environment for broadband deployment, including providing additional financial support in areas that need it. Governments should target support to specific areas where the economics do not support deployment or upgrades, and funding must be dedicated and direct, using a mechanism like the Connect America Fund.”

As we’ve been noting, said “investment-friendly environment” includes effectively neutering the FCC’s ability to police bad behavior in telecom, then shoveling all remaining responsibility to an FTC that lacks the authority, willpower, or desire to actually police giant ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast (the entire point). Said “investment-friendly environment” also currently involves trying to ban states from protecting broadband consumers from false advertising and fraud.

Granted, nobody actually reads reports by groups like US Telecom outside of a few execs, consumer groups, and beat reporters, but the “science” they shovel forth does often tend to cement itself into the base layers of more policy conversations than you’d prefer. Still, after the last few months of exceptionally flawed efforts at “science,” perhaps US Telecom should spend less time accidentally emailing us their talking points, and more time pursuing something vaguely resembling intellectual consistency.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: ustelecom

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Telecom's Top Lobbying Arm Oddly Keeps Undermining The Industry's Own Claims About Net Neutrality”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
14 Comments
Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

There's a bigger problem...

“The telecom industry (and by proxy Ajit Pai’s) primary justification for killing net neutrality — and FCC authority over ISPs in general — was that sector oversight was stunting network investment.”

… Where in the FCC Charter or other Defining/Limiting documents is it their job to stimulate investment?

I’ve actually looked, and can’t find anything relating to it. Other than self-serving declamations, there’s nothing I can find officially saying ANY kind of “investment considerations” is part of the FCC’s mandate.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Why do more work than you need to?

To be fair when you know you can lie through your teeth and not get called on it, and it’s been that way for years, it’s hardly surprising that they’d be getting increasingly sloppy.

They could claim that thanks to the repeal of network neutrality everyone got a free pony and most of the ‘news’ agencies would just print it as though it were a verified statement of fact rather than a blatantly obvious falsehood.

ECA (profile) says:

Is this from their Stock notices??

Arnt they supposed to tell the truth to Stock owners??
Or is this that 3 tiers of STOCK, and you cant buy 2 of them…Sort of deal…
The Top 1 stock hears the truth..
The 2nd stock hears about 1/2 of the 1st..
and the One we can ALL buy, gets the BS..

I would like to compare HOW much corps Lie in other nations…EU SPEAK UP PLEASE..
Asia, you are next..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Is this from their Stock notices??

Arnt they supposed to tell the truth to Stock owners??

Karl pointed out in previous stories that they are. They have explicitly said, in response to stockholder questions, that net neutrality has not had, and is not expected to have, any significant effect on how much money they spend on infrastructure.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
04:55 Axios Parrots A Lot Of Dumb, Debunked Nonsense About Net Neutrality (54)
10:50 NY AG Proves Broadband Industry Funded Phony Public Support For Attack On Net Neutrality (10)
06:24 The GOP Is Using Veterans As Props To Demonize Net Neutrality (22)
06:03 Telecom Using Veterans As Props To Demonize California's New Net Neutrality Law (12)
09:32 AT&T Whines That California Net Neutrality Rules Are Forcing It To Behave (11)
06:23 The New York Times (Falsely) Informs Its 7 Million Readers Net Neutrality Is 'Pointless' (51)
15:34 Facebook's Australian News Ban Did Demonstrate The Evil Of Zero Rating (18)
04:58 'Net Neutrality Hurt Internet Infrastructure Investment' Is The Bad Faith Lie That Simply Won't Die (11)
05:48 Dumb New GOP Talking Point: If You Restore Net Neutrality, You HAVE To Kill Section 230. Just Because! (66)
06:31 DOJ Drops Ridiculous Trump-Era Lawsuit Against California For Passing Net Neutrality Rules (13)
06:27 The Wall Street Journal Kisses Big Telecom's Ass In Whiny Screed About 'Big Tech' (13)
10:45 New Interim FCC Boss Jessica Rosenworcel Will Likely Restore Net Neutrality, Just Not Yet (5)
15:30 Small Idaho ISP 'Punishes' Twitter And Facebook's 'Censorship' ... By Blocking Access To Them Entirely (81)
05:29 A Few Reminders Before The Tired Net Neutrality Debate Is Rekindled (13)
06:22 U.S. Broadband Speeds Jumped 90% in 2020. But No, It Had Nothing To Do With Killing Net Neutrality. (12)
12:10 FCC Ignores The Courts, Finalizes Facts-Optional Repeal Of Net Neutrality (19)
10:46 It's Opposite Day At The FCC: Rejects All Its Own Legal Arguments Against Net Neutrality To Claim It Can Be The Internet Speech Police (13)
12:05 Blatant Hypocrite Ajit Pai Decides To Move Forward With Bogus, Unconstitutional Rulemaking On Section 230 (178)
06:49 FCC's Pai Puts Final Bullet In Net Neutrality Ahead Of Potential Demotion (25)
06:31 The EU Makes It Clear That 'Zero Rating' Violates Net Neutrality (6)
06:22 DOJ Continues Its Quest To Kill Net Neutrality (And Consumer Protection In General) In California (11)
11:08 Hypocritical AT&T Makes A Mockery Of Itself; Says 230 Should Be Reformed For Real Net Neutrality (28)
06:20 Trump, Big Telecom Continue Quest To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Consumers (19)
06:11 Senators Wyden And Markey Make It Clear AT&T Is Violating Net Neutrality (13)
06:31 Net Neutrali-what? AT&T's New Streaming Service Won't Count Against Its Broadband Caps. But Netflix Will. (25)
06:23 Telecom's Latest Dumb Claim: The Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because We Killed Net Neutrality (49)
13:36 Ex-FCC Staffer Says FCC Authority Given Up In Net Neutrality Repeal Sure Would Prove Handy In A Crisis (13)
06:27 Clarence Thomas Regrets Brand X Decision That Paved Way For The Net Neutrality Wars (11)
06:17 The FCC To Field More Comments On Net Neutrality. Maybe They'll Stop Identity Theft And Fraud This Time? (79)
More arrow