‘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.

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Comments on “‘Big Telecom’ Still Wants ‘Big Tech’ To Give Them Billions Of Dollars For No Coherent Reason”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“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”

So making someone else pay for it is a viable business model?

They’ve been given handouts globally & never delivered even 1/3 of what they promised to get those things, and somehow you think this time will be different?

Big Tech pays to be connected to the internet, because these assholes don’t like that it costs them money to deliver what they promised customers isn’t a reason to make others give them the money they should have already spent keeping their systems up to the demands of their consumers who are paying some of the highest prices for the least service.

That One Guy (profile) says:

If they're not paying for what they get it should be cheap, right?

Anyone who thinks tech companies are getting a ‘free ride’ should always be told to put up or shut up. Either pay a week’s worth of the internet bill of the company they are whining about or admit it’s a dishonest argument, with not third option allowed.

Speaking of getting free rides however it seems like the telecom companies are much more problematic in that regard, scooping up oodles of subsidies and taxpayer money and then maybe sorta thinking about delivering what they promised. If politicians are honestly concerned about companies that are getting benefits without paying for it then they’ve got a number of companies that they could look into long before they turn their gaze to the tech ones.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

How much do they charge to EXIT a movie theater?

For literally twenty-five years now,

2022-1993 is twenty-nine years, and almost 30 if you want to count the months where things were under the table.

telecom monopoly executives the world over have been trying to force big tech companies billions of dollars for no coherent reason.

The coherent reason is an increase of revenue to increase shareholder value, consistent with the fiduciary duties of being an executive at these corporations.

It began with AT&T’s attempt to double dip on Google

No, Google wouldn’t exist for 5 years after this was well debated and explored. It wasn’t AT&T either. It was L3.

There are many resources that have been silenced, but the wayback machines are still useful:


It was the advent of the CIX and the replacement of the NAPs with the MAEs that began the mess.

SPRINT’s SprintLink was the first CIX member to eschew settlements and insist on settlement-free peering, that which is now included in “net neutrality” alongside content-objective rates of transit.

Larry Bouchy (sprint), Paul Vixie, and many others created what we now enjoy. It has been my pleasure to work with both in some capacity.

We do charge people to enter a movie theater.
We do not charge them to leave.

Companies that want to get paid coming and going are the ones causing this country to have the most screwed up expensive non-service-area crap in the world.

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