In the early and mid 1990’s, telecommunications companies promised to build networks that could allow them to compete with cable. We were all supposed to get high-speed fiber optic cables (light pipes) right to the house, and they were supposed to carry voice, data, and video. There would be tons of competition, and 86 million homes would get 45 Megabits per second of two-way data capacity.
Of course, this new fiber network would not be cheap, and telecom firms would need to be compensated accordingly. In fact, there would need to be several changes in the law that would allow telecom firms to make much higher profits, but that’s okay because these higher prices and tax breaks would go toward building a next-generation data network.
Sound familiar? Even if you discovered the joys of tracking telecom laws just this January, these claims should ring a bell. They should also make you want to ring a Bell’s neck, because Verizon, at&t, and friends are singing the same song in Congress–and winning. Let us bypass state and local regulations. Let us design non-neutral networks and charge protection money for the data we don’t throttle. Let us turn excessive profits into obscene profits.
After all, we’re trying to build high-capacity fiber networks here, and those aren’t cheap. What’s that? You say there are actually countless miles of unused fiber? Oh, well we need a telecom rewrite before we’ll have the incentive to light those pipes. And those $200 billion in increased rates and tax breaks? That’s just not enough, and we need more.
Never mind what we said last time.