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The problem: net neutrality wasn't actually repealed until June of 2018.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


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:40am

    If we put 1 set of claims on 1 side and the truth on the other, can we harness Pais trying to spin it all together for limitless free power?

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:51am

    competition thru the airways

    Apparently Microsoft's investing in providing internet access using the recently freed up analog radio wave spectrum, so maybe tech itself will provide competition to these established ISP turkeys.

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

  3. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 7:17am

    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.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 7:54am

    Re: There's a bigger problem...

    Not only that but it is just assumed that any investment is good while a lack thereof is bad. If your economic model relies upon expansion (growth) then it is not sustainable. All sorts of silly explanations are trotted out to placate the critics but nothing is done.

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

  5. identicon
    Tin-Foil-Hat, 6 Dec 2018 @ 8:00am

    The Swamp

    Maybe they're getting lobbyists from the same place Trump gets his lawyers.

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

  6. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 8:17am

    Re: The Swamp

    Impossible! Hell isn’t open this time of year.

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

  7. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 8:55am

    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

    Is that homes actually served, or "there's a fiber optic line within half a mile of at least one home somewhere in your neighborhood"?

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

  8. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 1:04pm

    One face doesn't know what the other face is saying.

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

  9. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 2:26pm

    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..

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

  10. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 10:35pm

    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.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2018 @ 9:43am

    Re: competition thru the airways

    SpaceX has FCC permission to launch 12,000 (!) satellites to provide internet service. But who knows? Google has a less crazy plan (Fiber), and still gave up.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2018 @ 9:46am

    Re:

    There's no way fiber has been deployed to 29% of homes. It must mean "available" to that many homes, where "available" doesn't mean available.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2018 @ 9:54am

    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.

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

  14. icon
    Anonymous Monkey (profile), 9 Dec 2018 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    Jedi Mind Trick:

    This isn't the available you're looking for.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.