Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband, investment, taxes

Companies:
at&t



AT&T Promises Your Broadband Will Suck Less...But Only If It Gets Another Massive Tax Cut

from the Charlie-Brown-and-the-football dept

One of the reasons for the U.S.' pricey and mediocre broadband is our historical habit of throwing oodles of tax breaks and subsidies for fiber optic networks at giant ISPs, then letting them tap dance over and around those obligations when it comes time to deliver. Verizon, for example, has gobbled up millions in subsidies and tax breaks from cities and states up and down the Eastern seaboard for fiber optic networks it fails to fully deploy. Given the stranglehold large ISPs have on federal and state regulators and lawmakers, efforts to hold these companies accountable for any of this have been decidedly mixed.

AT&T has similarly spent decades demanding all manner of regulatory concessions, tax breaks or subsidies in exchange for broadband upgrades that seem perpetually just around the next corner. Whether it's gunning for tax cuts and subsidies, or looking for approval of its latest megamerger, AT&T's an absolute master of the regulatory carrot and a stick game. Even if the carrot is entirely hallucinated, as we saw when AT&T threatened to curtail its already modest fiber optic deployment unless net neutrality was killed.

Ignoring the fact that AT&T has been making the same empty broadband deployment promises for the better part of the last decade, the company popped up this week to throw its support behind Trump's latest attempt at "tax reform." According to an AT&T statement, the company insisted that reducing the company's tax burden will result in all manner of new broadband investment:

"By immediately lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, this bill will stimulate investment, job creation and economic growth in the United States,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO.

"With a rate of 20% combined with provisions for full expensing of capital expenditures for the next five years, we’re prepared to increase our investment in the United States. If the House bill is signed into law, we’d commit to increase our domestic investment by $1 billion in the first year in which the new rates are in place. And research tells us that every $1 billion in capital invested in telecom creates about 7,000 good jobs for the middle class."

The problem, again, is that AT&T simply has no credibility when it comes to broadband deployment promises. The company has a long-standing history of promising greater broadband investment if it gets "X" (the death of net neutrality rules, the death of privacy rules, more subsidies), then either ignoring those promises outright, or fiddling with its deployment numbers to make it appear that it adhered to its own promises. Meanwhile, in the real world, AT&T remains under fire for failing to upgrade broadband in numerous urban areas that should have been upgraded to fiber decades ago.

AT&T has whined fairly incessantly about the U.S. tax rate being among the highest in the developed world. And while technically true, telecom providers in particular use all manner of loopholes to ensure they often pay a pittance in taxes. That includes using Reverse Morris Trusts to dodge all tax obligations as they sell off chunks of their networks they refuse to upgrade, efforts that have resulted in a few bankruptcies for smaller ISPs on the receiving end of this creative bookkeeping. The end result is often an effective tax rate of 0% for companies like Verizon.

History generally indicates that any additional tax cuts will be pocketed by telecom sector executives, not put back into the network. That's because we've built a system where we not only refuse to do anything about a lack of competition in the broadband sector, but actively reward companies that falsely promise the broadband we truly want is just around the next corner, but only if we're willing to give these companies everything under the sun.


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  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 5:12am

    "If the House bill is signed into law..."

    "Paging Rep. Marsha Blackburn... Marsha Blackburn, please come to the House visitors' gallery. A large fruit basket has been delivered with your name on it."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 6:36am

    yep, and the thick fucking idiots in Congress will be falling over themselves to give the 'OK' on this! then, when everything performs as it has up to now, with poor speeds, even worse Cust Serv, pathetic repair times and NO UPGRADES to systems, while doing everything possible to prevent local and city councils from installing their own Braoadband Service, you wont be able to find a politician anywhere for love nor money!!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 7:02am

      Re:

      "yep, and the thick fucking idiots in Congress will be falling over themselves to give the 'OK' on this!"

      yep, and the thick fucking idiots in the electorate will be falling over themselves to vote the 'OK' on this when they re-elect them next election!

      If YOU won't change... why should they?

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 7:38am

        So out of curiosity, who did you vote for last time, and how much time and effort did you put forth to make absolutely certain that they would vote according to your wishes on all counts, and weren't compromised by any number of companies?

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

        • icon
          Vidiot (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:22am

          Re:

          "...make absolutely certain that they would vote according to your wishes..."

          Cool! Can we do that? Sounds so easy!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 9:00am

          Re:

          You are usually smarter than this "That One Guy".

          The problem is NOT in getting them to vote our way, it never was.

          The "problem" is us not removing them when they show they are are easily purchased and obviously corrupt AND sticking to the parties like we should live and die by them.

          The government is supposed to be formed to "handle" the things necessary to keep a nation well heeled, instead it is running like it should be royalty over us peasants, deciding our futures for us instead of allowing us to decide for ourselves.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 9:35am

            Re: Re:

            The "problem" is us not removing them when they show they are are easily purchased and obviously corrupt AND sticking to the parties like we should live and die by them.

            Hate to break it to you but the choices available make that just a wee bit difficult/effectively impossible a lot of the time.

            Whether that be 'donations' being paid to all the candidates(companies don't really care what the affiliation of the one they're buying is, just that they're bought) such that if someone's running without that money odds are you've never even heard of them, the available choices between 'bad' and 'worse' such that it's often safer to vote defensively rather than by priority(because while you may not like A you really don't like B, and A's got the better chance of beating them, despite the fact that you actually want C).

            'Vote the bad ones out and replace them with better ones' sounds good, but it requires that there be better options available, ignores that the process of getting elected practically ensures that any candidate that stands a chance might as well have 'Sold' stickers by the dozen on them by the time it's time to vote, and lastly assumes that this time you'll get one that will make it through their term without falling to the dark side, whether through 'good' intentions or because they were already there and just ran a good con.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 1:27pm

              Re: Re: Re:

              "Hate to break it to you but the choices available make that just a wee bit difficult/effectively impossible a lot of the time."

              It's okay if you wish to accept defeat, just stop getting in the way of others still trying. It is people acting the way "you" are that makes this difficult.

              So go away and leave it alone because you are NOT helping, just making it worse!

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

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 10:30pm

                "Just rebuild the house!" "It's currently on fire." "Right, just go in and replace the walls." "It's. On. Fire." "That sounds defeatist to me."

                It's okay if you wish to accept defeat, just stop getting in the way of others still trying. It is people acting the way "you" are that makes this difficult.

                Oh by all means, tell me what you have been doing about the issue beyond blaming and insulting people on a random tech blog. Show us poor, defeated people what the enlightened few among us have been doing to combat the problem, so that we may bask in your wisdom and go forth, spreading it for all to follow. I mean if you're going to be blaming people for apathy and not doing it right, surely you are both active in addressing the problem and can clearly point out what people should be doing, right?

                It's not 'accepting defeat' to point out that simplistic 'Vote harder!' assertions ignore that it's not actually that simple, and that there are a number of factors throughout the system that can make even something as simple as 'Vote the bad ones out' a difficult process.

                Hypothetical voting time at the poles, and it's time to stick it to those 'Bad' politicians. Your options are:

                1) The Bad One.

                2) Another one who you're pretty sure is just as bad, if not worse.

                3) Someone who you mostly agree with, but who happens to hold some positions that you don't agree with.

                4) Someone you've never even heard of, who might have run a commercial or two in the middle of the night.

                1-3 are members of the dreaded Major Political Parties, #4 is an independent. From the above four, which do you choose, and who should the public vote for?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 12:00pm

            Re: Re:

            Ahem ... you did not answer the question

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 1:32pm

              Re: Re: Re:

              I guess you did not see the obvious bait in the post eh?

              I intentionally ignored the question because it is a bankrupt question designed to derail the issue.

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

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 9:59pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re:

                It's telling that you consider 'what did you do to solve the thing you're blaming everyone for?' as 'bait' and 'derailing the issue'.

                It's almost as though despite going around and telling people to 'Do better!' you either haven't taken your own advice and followed through, or don't actually know what you are demanding people do in anything more than vague, useless terms.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 12:51pm

            Re: Re:

            "...they are are easily purchased..."

            Hmm, there is the problem. Why is that even allowed in the first place? There should be zero 'donations' allowed. All advertising for a political positions should be paid for by taxpayers and each candidate can have equal access to advertising. Just need some initial vetting process to eliminate the hordes from running.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 1:40pm

              Re: Re: Re:

              I agree, but that would not be a problem if the electorate performed it end of the necessary work when electing officials. Politicians have successfully managed to turn the process into a circus right in front of our eyes. Every candidate running for office can be quickly figured out based on their positions which can all be detailed in a web page for easy reading. The debates are scripted jokes designed to further mislead the masses.

              It is effective, have to give that to them.

              "Just need some initial vetting process to eliminate the hordes from running."

              Yep, but you must get the people using the current system to be voted in to make the necessary changes. And that is not likely to happen until the citizens change how they vote and by that time the system will have fixed itself by the same virtue.

              The axiom, "Eternal Vigilance is the price of Liberty" seems to sum up the problem right now. I don't see a lot of vigilance... just apathy.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        I realize that in it's original form "you" was always plural, but it seems like you're trying to blame individual commenters for the overall results of elections without even knowing who they voted for.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "blame individual commenters for the overall results of elections"

          Why do you folks take everything like it is a personally directed at YOU blame?

          It's is all of our faults "collectively" this means that while some individuals are not directly at fault we all share the blame at one level or another for letting obviously corrupt politicians into office and keeping them there.

          If you voted for someone in a party, you just supported someone that is OWNED! They work for their party NOT YOU!

          And as George Washington said... sticking to political parties will result in tearing the nation apart. It is working well so far, the left/right, lib/con, and dems/reps are at each others throats. Any attempt to make a rep or a dem see that their party is dirt corrupt is automatically assumed to mean that I am a member of the other party.

          You all spend your time piddling in the wind instead of trying to get rid of the problem people you hate brings up.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 10:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Perhaps it’s because you perpetually blame people personally for “our” problems. Because as we all know the paint drinkers don’t live in a country with horrid regulations and are therefore not gigantic hypocrites when they sycophantically blame everyone but themselves.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 12:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Blame all victims except those that ask .. why me?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 1:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Perhaps it’s because you perpetually blame people personally for “our” problems."

              Because there IS an element of YOU and personally involved. do you understand what indirect responsibility means?

              I may not be responsible for getting a specific candidate elected, but I can certainly be indirectly responsible. The cumulative effect of your actions & decisions in life impact you and everyone else.

              You just cannot go through life ignoring or walking past all the problems going on and then exclaim that you bear NO fault when others have suffered due to your bias or apathy.

              For now, all I can do is try to try to wake you paint chip eaters up. We cannot move forward until the original problem is cleaned up. The ignorance and apathy of the electorate is the root of the problem. No other problems are resolved until that one is resolved. But you are still free to go and break your teeth against the political wall of bullshit you helped build.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 5:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Right... the old "it's not personal, therefore I'm allowed to be a perpetual asshole" excuse.

            Not everybody gets to be a privileged, paint-drinking snowflake like you do. You'll blame everyone regardless of whether they voted or not, or whether they're in the country or continent of relevance or not. You're just here to piss on everyone else then get angry when nobody likes it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 6:52am

    The massive amounts of winks and nods have been lost during the transcription.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 6:57am

    "I promise I'll clean my room when I get back if you just let me stay at my friend's house tonight!"

    "That's what you said the last 5 times, and you still haven't cleaned your room."

    "But I really *mean* it this time! I promise!"

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

    • identicon
      David, 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:29am

      Re:

      The thing is that the promise is relayed via the gatekeeper who had the job to keep the messy locked up until he actually cleaned the room. The gatekeeper is letting himself be paid by both the mom and the messy. Again and again and over again.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 6:58am

    Google, for example, keeps TENS OF BILLIONS UNTAXED offshore!

    Yet you worry that: "Verizon, for example, has gobbled up *[mere] millions* in subsidies and tax breaks"? -- Untaxed is even better than a tax break.

    Pretty soon, with Google spending untaxed millions to lobby, and if they can sneak it into "law", Congress will simply "legalize" the practice of offshore tax havens and let it be brought in with low or no taxes.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:05am

      'Look, a distraction!'

      And when Google asks for subsidies/tax breaks in exchange for service they never provide then they will be relevant to the topic currently under discussion, such that bringing them up won't come across as a blatant 'Yes, but what about...' distraction tactic.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 9:06am

      Re: Google, for example, keeps TENS OF BILLIONS UNTAXED offshore!

      What about the current topic at hand?

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

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 9:42am

      Re: Google, for example, keeps TENS OF BILLIONS UNTAXED offshore!

      Yes, let the ISPs get away with stealing billions in subsidies and tax breaks from the rest of us with false promises of "we really mean it this time" about upgrading their infrastructure.

      Why? Because... LOOK AT GOOGLE!

      If only the police worked like that, then I could get away with all sorts of crime by going "LOOK AT BIN LADEN! LOOK AT ENRON!" and running away.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 10:54am

      Re: Google, for example, keeps TENS OF BILLIONS UNTAXED offshore!

      So?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Google, for example, keeps TENS OF BILLIONS UNTAXED offshore!

      Whataboutism is an old and tired stategery forged in the bowels of bullshitism. Amazing that it is still trotted out and pushed around the arena for your viewing pleasure.

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 7:03am

    This story is NOT a repost from 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 7:17am

    Funny how corporations want to eliminate their taxes but scream like a stuck pig if you suggest elimination of subsidies.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 7:27am

    Let's make a deal. Tax Breaks AFTER the Job has been FULLY completed.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:17am

    Gotta step up their game

    "By immediately lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, this bill will stimulate investment, job creation and economic growth in the United States,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO.

    Please, if I was in their shoes it would not only do all of the above it would cure cancer, give everyone either a puppy, kitten or pony and the means to take care of them, utterly eliminate homelessness and starvation, cause toxic waste to transform into completely harmless glowy slime, every morning would start out with a rainbow(without the need for rain) and no-one would ever stub their toes again.

    If you're going to lie about how if you just give companies even less taxes to worry about it will make everyone else better off as a result you might as well go all out.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 12:07pm

      Re: Gotta step up their game

      With a reduction of corporate tax rates, we can all expect a commensurate reduction in associated prices - right?


      Trickle down is such a joke but they still think it is funny

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

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:19am

    The Verizon FiOS-Not-Available customers in NY-NJ would love to help the AT&T customers understand just how those subsidies work out in the end.

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

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 8:37am

    Translation

    And research tells us that every $1 billion in capital invested in telecom creates about 7,000 good jobs for the middle class.

    If you give us a billion dollars, maybe 20% of that won't wind up as executive bonuses this Christmas.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2017 @ 10:43am

    they shouldn't be talking tax breaks, they should be talking about fines for theft and failure to abide by contracts both verbal and written. One of the few times eminent domain might be a decent medicine...

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 2:26pm

    Time for the stick

    It seems like rewarding bad behavior to give them a tax cut to do the right thing. Let's try the stick this time: an 80% tax on net income from underpowered service. Bet they'd upgrade right quick.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Nov 2017 @ 3:12pm

    I often wonder how many hookers in DC retire rich.
    They "date" someone, take pictures, demand payment & promise to not come back for more... and then they come back for more.

    Works for the corporations...

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

  • identicon
    Chuck, 16 Nov 2017 @ 6:41am

    This is a hint, guys

    The mere fact that AT&T is supporting Trump's new tax plan is a big hint of just how bad it is. In fact, this should be some sort of official economic metric: if AT&T supports a tax plan, don't pass it.

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


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