‘Big Telecom’ Still Wants ‘Big Tech’ To Give Them Billions Of Dollars For No Coherent Reason
from the troll-toll dept
For literally twenty-five years now, telecom monopoly executives the world over have been trying to force big tech companies billions of dollars for no coherent reason. It began with AT&T’s attempt to double dip on Google; which spurred the entire net neutrality war. The complaint by telecoms has long since moved global, as they try to get gullible politicians to try and force tech giants to give them billions.
The (false) argument always involves some variation of the claim that tech giants are getting a “free ride” on the internet or somehow not “paying their share,” despite the fact that companies like Google pay billions of dollars not only for their own bandwidth, but increasingly own all manner of core internet and telecom infrastructure, from fiber transit lines to undersea fiber runs (Google even runs a residential ISP).
The argument by telecom lobbyists (and the regulators and politicians paid to love them) is ever present in the U.S., but has heated up in Europe the last few months, as the EU debates the digital policy trajectory that will shape tech policy across the EU for the next decade.
The gambit, as it did in the EU again last week, always involves a telecom lobbyist getting some politician or regulator to push the idea as if it’s just a good faith gambit to conquer that pesky “digital divide”:
The EU executive’s chief officials on digital policy, Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton hinted at the plans in recent weeks. In an interview last month, Breton told Les Echos newspaper that telecoms operators weren’t getting “the right return on investment” from maintaining the networks, and it was time “to reorganise the fair remuneration of the networks.”
It doesn’t take much for a telecom giant lobbyist to get entire teams of politicians cheering in favor of giving their employer billions of dollars… just because:
In a letter sent to Vestager and Breton last week and obtained by POLITICO, five leading members of the European Parliament from center-left to right groups called on the Commission to step up their efforts to remove hurdles that prevent the telecoms industry from investing in infrastructure and to incentivize “the roll-out of high-speed electronic communications networks” in Europe.
This is the exact same argument being recently made by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr here in the States. Carr has rubber stamped every big telecom policy since being seated, including the wholesale demolition of broadband consumer protections. He’s incapable of admitting the U.S. broadband sector even has a competition problem, yet is first in line cheering to subsidize industry giants further.
These arguments always (intentionally) ignore some things; namely that telecoms receive untold billions in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory favors for networks that always, quite mysteriously, wind up half completed. If a policymaker is serious about shoring up access, cracking down on waste and fraud in telecom oversight would be the very first place to start. The omission is usually fairly telling.
When it comes to telecom monopolies the world over, nobody gets a free ride. Everybody pays, and pays, and pays some more. And when said telecoms control the policymaking apparatus (which is the case in most countries), politicians, who should be working for the public interest, but are, instead, in the telecoms’ pockets, are usually easy to spot by their tendency to want to throw billions more at the problem without functional reform.