Broadband State Agencies fail to answer basic questions about how the Digital Divide was created in their state.
The agencies, politicians, advocates and even the investigative reporters don’t even know who is to blame, or what are the core issues that need to be addressed to fix it.
America is now giving over $100 billion in government funding to ‘solve the Digital Divide’. We’ve checked multiple county and state Digital Divide agency sites and can not find one state that identified the players — such as the incumbent phone utilities -like Verizon NY, or that AT&T California covers most of LA County. In fact, throughout America, AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink, with the help of the cable companies, were responsible for the creation of the Digital Divide. There is no history, no accountability for the state commitments to replace the existing copper wires with fiber optics, the amount of money that was collected (tax perks, rights of way and rate increases, universal service), or the cross-subsidies of the other lines of business via the accounting going on today, now, in 2022, where the construction budgets are diverted to wireless. (We believe it is illegal or bordering on it in various states.)
Starting in 1991, virtually every phone company filed for both state deployment as well as did a federal filing known as video-dialtone, to upgrade cities. The laws were changed multiple times over the decades and billions were collected. This chart is of the video dialtone filings with the FCC. Notice that they were “permanent”. And yet, as if on cue, after the state laws were passed, the companies quietly cancelled these upgrades, as well as the state upgrades, And this is a decade before the next round, Verizon’s FiOS or AT&T’s U-verse, circa 2004. Much of the unserved-underserved areas in 2022 are in territories of the utilities that should have been upgraded, as customers had increases to pay to do this in most states.
And history shows that throwing money at those who have defacto controls over the state wired critical infrastructure, (and have created massive skunkworks networks that are working against the public interests) is a bad idea and won’t work. The government agencies, and most of the advocates, etc. don’t even know who to blame for the creation of the Digital Divide, allowing AT&T et al to not be held accountable and instead rewarding them with government subsidies for their previous failures to do upgrades of the state utility networks.
This was the starting point, based on America’s first National Broadband Plan, NII, and was presented circa 1991–1993 by VP AL Gore, which he dubbed, ‘the Information Superhighway’.
How was it possible that every company filed for hundreds of thousands, millions of fiber optic lines in almost every state and then have almost all of the plans halted? — that’s why we call them Big Telecom?
And to those cities who have been struggling to get upgraded or those who live in rural areas that actually paid thousands of dollars for a fiber optic connection you never got — don’t you believe that the broadband agencies have an obligation to tell the public the truth — and not leave out material facts? And shouldn’t they first be going after the billions in overcharging before they reward the companies?
The Digital Divide did not start with the pandemic… It just exposed that the Emperor had no clothes.