To sell regulators on their $26 billion mega merger, T-Mobile and Sprint executives told anyone who’d listen that the deal would provide near-miraculous benefits. But economists warned that US telecom merger promises are historically meaningless, and the reduction in overall competitors would — sooner or later — result in higher prices and job cuts.
In May, the government began offering Americans struggling during the pandemic a $50 discount off of their broadband bill. But some US broadband providers are already exploiting the program to drive consumers to even more expensive broadband plans. Verizon, for example, was forcing customers to sign up for more expensive plans if they wanted the benefit. Charter, which sells broadband under the Spectrum brand, has been forcing eligible customers to opt in to full-price plans at sign up.
AT&T announced it would be spinning off its TV business — including DirecTV, AT&T TV, and U-verse — in a deal it claimed would greatly benefit the company’s customers, employees, and shareholders. The deal provides AT&T with a $7.8 billion cash infusion to pay down debt and recent wireless spectrum purchases, and a 70 percent stake in the “new” DirecTV.
We've noted repeatedly that despite a lot of breathless pearl clutching from US leaders and regulators about the "digital divide," the US doesn't actually know where broadband is (or isn't) available. Despite repeated complaints (often by FCC Commissioners themselves), the FCC just keeps doubling down on shoddy data to justify its complete and total fealty to telecom giants. The agency's latest notice of inquiry (part of its Congressional duty to report on the state of broadband once a year) even acknowledges the agency's data is bad...
Recently, 11 local broadcasters were caught airing “news” segments that were actually advertisements praising Amazon’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Experts say the ads—which featured an Amazon public relations representative pretending to be a reporter—not only violated the law, but are a shining example of how media consolidation is slowly destroying quality local journalism. The ads were part of an Amazon press release lauding the company for its “innovation” during the COVID-19 crisis.
For years, US broadband providers have taken advantage of a lack of US competition by imposing arbitrary and expensive broadband usage caps and "overage fees." With the country facing a massive surge in videoconferencing and home learning thanks to the coronavirus epidemic, experts say it’s time for broadband providers to suspend these costly, unnecessary restrictions. Thanks to limited competition, affordable broadband is just out of reach for many US residents.
On Feb 28 the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a new order paving the way for the expanded use of “white space broadband,” a promising technology that uses the spectrum freed from the shift to digital television to beam broadband into traditionally harder to reach rural areas. In 2017, Microsoft announced an ambitious plan to bring the technology to more than 2 million rural Americans across a dozen states by July 2022.
New York City unveiled a massive new Internet Master Plan in Jan that experts say is the largest and most aggressive local broadband improvement project in US history. If successful, the city's proposal could become a template for other towns and cities looking to improve broadband access and provide a leg up to regional economies.
For decades, broadband providers have abused the lack of meaningful competition in the telecom market by not only refusing to shore up historically awful customer service, but by raising rates hand over fist. This usually involves leaving the advertised price largely the same, but pummeling customers with all manner of misleading fees and surcharges that drive up the actual price you'll be paying each month. And by and large regulators from both major political parties have been perfectly okay with this practice, despite it effectively being false advertising.