T-Mobile Applauds Likely Death Of Net Neutrality Under Trump

from the with-friends-like-these dept

While T-Mobile has certainly brought some welcome changes to the wireless industry (including a CEO with a rare sense of humor), the consumer-friendly brand they've established has consistently fallen short when it comes to one major subject: net neutrality. The company lobbied and fought consistently against the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers and the creation of net neutrality rules. The operator then pissed off much of the internet when CEO John Legere mocked the EFF for raising questions about the misleading nature of the company's zero rating and throttling practices.

This week, the company again made its opposition to net neutrality clear. Speaking at a media and telecom conference, T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter applauded the incoming President-elect Donald Trump, whose telecom transition team members have all made it abundantly clear that eliminating net neutrality rules and gutting the FCC as a consumer watchdog will be among their top priorities. This is, T-Mobile claims, going to be a real "positive" for the industry:
"It’s hard to imagine, with the way the election turned out, that we’re not going to have an environment, from several aspects, that is not going to be more positive for my industry,” Carter said in comments this morning at the 44th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. “I think that it’s very clear that there’s going to be less regulation. And less regulation—regulation often destroys innovation and value creation."
Except of course that net neutrality rules exist to protect innovation from entrenched telecom monopolies. But Carter doubles down, insisting specifically that the elimination of net neutrality rules should provide "opportunity" for "significant innovation":
"Carter also specifically addressed the issue of net neutrality, arguing that the reversal of the FCC’s Open Internet rules would pave the way for additional innovation in the space. “It would provide the opportunity for significant innovation and differentiation,” Carter said of a telecom industry without net neutrality rules. “You could do some very interesting things” without net neutrality."
Carter appears excited about "deregulation" because it might lower T-Mobile's tax burden and increase its chances of merging or being acquired. But his excitement is shortsighted and fairly typical for executives in the telecom sector.

The problem is that in telecom, "deregulation" (of the sort promised by folks like Trump advisor Jeff Eisenach) doesn't actually mean straight deregulation. What it means in practice is pay-to-play regulation, where the biggest and most politically powerful companies (usually AT&T or Comcast) get to literally write the law. That's why you'll often see these folks breathlessly proclaim they adore "open markets," yet turn a blind eye when AT&T or Comcast write protectionist state law that hamstrings local communities and keeps competitors at bay.

In telecom, "deregulation" is all-too-frequently code for "let's let AT&T and Comcast decide what's best." That was the preferred mantra of former FCC boss Michael Powell (now the cable industry's top lobbyist), who also shared Jeffrey Eisenach as a transition team member. The end result of that administration was "deregulation" that wound up empowering AT&T and Comcast, making broadband less competitive and customer service worse than ever. We've apparently decided to collectively forget that.

As such, when your biggest competitor is AT&T, cheering for the one regulator that has tried to ensure a level playing field for smaller competitors seems a bit myopic. Remember it was the FCC and DOJ that blocked AT&T's attempted acquisition of T-Mobile, which ultimately resulted in T-Mobile being a more innovative, fierce competitor than ever before. Again, every indication coming from Trump's telecom transition team and the GOP is that they hope to completely defund and defang the FCC. That means more mergers, less competition, less innovation, and more net neutrality violations than ever before.

T-Mobile has repeatedly tried to downplay its opposition to net neutrality by claiming that the company is on the "right side of history" as it fights neutrality rules with broad, bipartisan support among consumers. But the company's enthusiastic support for the gutting of nearly all consumer protections in the broadband space make it clear, once again, the brand's dedication to consumers and "innovation" is entirely and unsurprisingly superficial.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 6:48am

    The ISP's have observed that gatekeepers are the ones that get to make the profit on that which is created by others, and therefore they want to become gatekeepers. As controllers of access to customers, and without net neutrality regulation, they are in the ideal position to suck the profit out of Internet content providers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 6:48am

    “I think that it’s very clear that there’s going to be less regulation. And less regulation—regulation often destroys innovation and value creation."

    "Carter also specifically addressed the issue of child labor, arguing that the reversal of the FCC’s child labor laws would pave the way for additional innovation in the space. “It would provide the opportunity for significant innovation and differentiation,” Carter said of a telecom industry without child labor laws. “You could do some very interesting things” without child labor laws."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 6:59am

    "gutting the FCC as a consumer watchdog"

    But you can bet they want to keep the part of the FCC that protects their spectrum licenses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 7:08am

    Capitalists

    _ That's why you'll often see these folks breathlessly proclaim they adore "open markets," yet turn a blind eye when AT&T or Comcast write protectionist state law that hamstrings local communities and keeps competitors at bay. _

    As always most capitalists actually dislike capitalism.
    Their view of capitalism is like Erdogans's view of democracy.

    "It is like a bus - you use it to get where you want to go - then you get off."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 7:48am

      Re: Capitalists

      I think his phrasing is more addressing the "advantages" of zero-rating specific content, usage capping and adding more or less obscure charges.

      The protectionist laws are an inherent factor when you deal with expensive infrastructure costs and low maintenance. While we can dream of removing them to change the playing field towards competition, the infrastructure simply doesn't make sense to build from an investment view unless you have some insurance. On the other hand, making the infrastructure a public responsibility may actually be the best of both worlds, but alas, I am dreaming.

      No self-respecting republican would go for raising states budget for that. And no self-respecting democrat would allow companies to earn money directly on public infrastructure. The era is set and the light shines on lobbyists and lawyers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 8:33am

      Re: Capitalists

      "As always most capitalists actually dislike capitalism."

      You mean capitalists actually dislike Free-Markets, despite their lip service to the same. There is no doubt that everyone in power wants to keep it, but that is why I champion strong free-market principles with strong anti-monopoly and anti-trust laws even though I bash on 'regulatory' principles in general.

      I for one, will be glad to see the FCC quashed... they deserve the fuck out of it for not doing its fucking job for so damn long.

      If the FCC would remove the monopolies and actually let the telco's compete instead of carving out fiefdoms and prevent them from getting too big then yes, we will have lots of juicy competition with better rates! And if the FTC will force them to be honest in advertising as well, which is still not occurring!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Dec 2016 @ 7:37am

        Re: Re: Capitalists

        You DO realise they're getting quashed because they actually TRIED to deal with the monopolies, don't you?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Frozen Njal (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 6:44am

        Re: Re: Capitalists

        That's a little like saying "throw out the EPA because there is still pollution, and let's just let the market regulate itself from now on.

        If that's your feeling, then I have some Flint water to sell you...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kallethen, 7 Dec 2016 @ 7:21am

    So much for being the "Un-carrier", eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 7:40am

    Technically correct on all counts

    “I think that it’s very clear that there’s going to be less regulation. And less regulation—regulation often destroys innovation and value creation."

    Given the typical 'innovation' on display by the telecom companies('How can we squeeze our customers for even more money, with even less effort on our part?') this is true, less regulation will absolutely allow them to engage is far more 'innovation and value creation'... to their benefit and the determent of the customers.

    “It would provide the opportunity for significant innovation and differentiation,” Carter said of a telecom industry without net neutrality rules. “You could do some very interesting things” without net neutrality."

    Likewise true, and we've seen what kind of 'interesting things' occur without net neutrality, that's why there was such a big push for the rules in the first place, the companies got too blatantly greedy and tried to gut the paper-thin rules already in place in order to better hose over the customers.

    He's absolutely right that gutting net neutrality rules and the weak regulations they currently face would be of significant benefit, it's just not the public that stands to gain. 'Truth by technicality', the best kind of truth when you want to lie and be 'honest' at the same time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 7:45am

    > Remember it was the FCC and DOJ that blocked AT&T's attempted acquisition of T-Mobile, which ultimately resulted in T-Mobile being a more innovative, fierce competitor than ever before.

    Oh my sides... Can't stop laughing...

    And where exactly did people get the idea that T-Mobile **actually wanted** to become *"a more innovative, fierce competitor than ever before"* ?

    In fact Deutsche Telekom AG **only ever wanted 2 things**: get out of the US market and cut losses with a fat cash-out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 7 Dec 2016 @ 8:23am

    So basically, we pay more to access less, with fewer choices (from maybe to 2, down to 1).

    What's not to like? =/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 8:41am

    Trump was just named Time Magazine's Man of the Year

    Next up, Nobel prize!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 8:51am

      Re: Trump was just named Time Magazine's Man of the Year

      I say we just give every new president some fucking crackerjack prize.

      These are nothing more than political bullshit decorations to begin with.

      If they nominated me for such a prize I would only show up to collect what I could sell. Heck even the improvement to my public image would be worth putting on a good show for the stupid plebs that allow things like this to buy their adoration.

      Far more unknown humans deserve these more than these sycophantic psycho public leaders.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 7 Dec 2016 @ 2:46pm

        Re: Re: Trump was just named Time Magazine's Man of the Year

        Person of the Year used to actually be intended to recognize whatever person was the most important and influential person in the world in that year. (That's why Hitler and Stalin both won it. It wasn't some kind of popularity contest where Time was praising them; it was just expressing the -- honestly pretty reasonable -- editorial opinion that those men were having the biggest impact on world affairs in their respective years.)

        It's been a long time since that was the case. On some level, you can see Time's point; if they'd put Bin Laden on the Person of the Year cover in '01, poor sales would have been the least of their problems; they'd have gotten death threats.

        That said, there have been some legitimately goddamn lame PotY calls recently ("You" in 2006, "The Protester" in '11). Trump, by contrast, is a pretty good example of an influential figure on the world stage right now; I think Farage is up there, but given that he's retiring and Trump's just getting started, I'd definitely give the edge to Trump.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 4:38pm

      Re: Trump was just named Time Magazine's Man of the Year

      You forgot to mention that Hillary finished 2nd to him again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Dec 2016 @ 7:39am

        Re: Re: Trump was just named Time Magazine's Man of the Year

        Nobody cares enough to mention Saint Hillary of Clinton, cruelly robbed of her election victory by the eeevil Ruskies and their fake-news peddling ways. Unless we're making fun of Hillary-bots, of course.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 8:46am

    Dissonance Alert!!!

    "The problem is that in telecom, "deregulation" (of the sort promised by folks like Trump advisor Jeff Eisenach) doesn't actually mean straight deregulation. What it means in practice is pay-to-play regulation, where the biggest and most politically powerful companies (usually AT&T or Comcast) get to literally write the law."

    This is not targeted at you TD, but at the chatter around this subject, though I wish you would write this section a little better. The telcos have already been writing the law 'literally'. The difference just seems they are more brazen about it instead of shadowy.

    Now that they can wax powerful in the daylight they no longer need the FCC to front their shell games anymore!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 9:04am

    there is a possible silver lining, in that there will be many, many, many lawsuits (at the taxpayers expenses) and that the DoJ will be ultimately forced to step in and fix shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      what are you smoking? How can the DoJ fix anything? All they can do is ping telcos on contractual or legal violations when you sue.

      All the telco's need to so is write in the agreement you WILL make with that they are going to bend you the fuck over then you will have no standing.

      the judge can just say... stop buying internet if you don't like it! case dismissed!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Machin Shin (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 10:58am

    very interesting things

    When I first saw this news it just about made me vomit. Anyone with even a tiny little bit of a brain should be horrified by this.

    Think about what was said and WHO is was that said it. The CFO or Chief Financial Officer, so the guy in charge of company finance said "You could do some very interesting things” without net neutrality."

    The CFO cares about one thing and that is money. If a company accountant talking about doing some "very interesting things" doesn't scare the shit out of you then I don't know what will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 12:55pm

      Re: very interesting things

      > Anyone with even a tiny little bit of a brain should be horrified by this.

      I heard T-Mobile's investors were very happy about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Machin Shin (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: very interesting things

        If I was an investor I would be really upset that someone let the CFO out in public making these statements.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 5:00pm

        Re: Re: very interesting things

        > Anyone with even a tiny little bit of a brain and who doesn't have a financial stake in the matter should be horrified by this.

        Better?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 7 Dec 2016 @ 1:00pm

    The Brand is The Brand

    "the brand's dedication to consumers and innovation" IS the brand.

    The actual motives and strategies, of course, are the same as any other telco: maximize shareholder value, and test the limits of the existing laws to do so, and push for more preferable legislation.

    Scorpion and the frog. Scorpion gonna be scorpion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 7 Dec 2016 @ 2:16pm

    Trump Can’t Be Bought

    He’s already one of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2016 @ 6:40pm

    Patience, grasshoppers

    I have long believed that significant change in all of this will not actually occur until the greedy companies (insert your nemesis of choice here) mess up Americans' TV. That normal folk won't be able to afford cable, or the bandwidth to watch what they want to watch, or can't afford the cap overages. These companies appear determined to, eventually, cause exactly that. There is hope, but we will have to first navigate a rather scorched earth to get there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Dec 2016 @ 7:42am

      Re: Patience, grasshoppers

      That's cognitive dissonance for you, and that's the result of what Mike calls "partisan pattycake." As soon as people start thinking for themselves instead of toeing the party line, they'll stop letting crap like this slide because somebody used a partisan buzzword like "free market."

      I would love to see a more fair, open and free market but with all this damn mercantilism running amok, good luck with that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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