Let me give you some history you didn’t discuss. In 1995, now-Verizon MA got the state to change the laws to charge local phone customers to build out the fiber optic networks — at speeds of 45 Mbps in both directions. By the end of 2000, Verizon should have already had 330,000 lines installed. By 2010, the state should have been completed with a fiber replacement of the aging copper wires.
So, built into current rates — and over the last two decades, multiple rate increases were paid to do this upgrade of the state utility. DSL was a bait and switch, which the company rolled out around 1998 — i.e., let’s use the copper and not bother with the actual upgrade.
We even filed a complaint in 1999, which the State ignored.
In 2004, Verizon announced FiOS, but, again, there was a subplot — to merge with MCI and to get rid of the rights of competitors to use the networks, which had been established with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
And around 2010, Verizon decided to stop building out fiber to homes and moved the construction budgets to pay for the wires to the cell towers — i.e., the wireline company, instead of building out the fiber optic networks to home and businesses — diverted the funds to build the wires to the cell towers — but since it was part of the utility budget — you paid for this as well.
And it gets a lot worse with our recent findings about Verizon New York — the majority of all expenses were dumped into local service so that the company could say local networks were unprofitable; ‘shut-off the copper’ which is the next plan — and then force-march customers onto more expensive wireless. However, the same thing happened in MA.
I wrote three books on this subject; the first, published in 1998, has a foreword by MIT alum Dr. Bob Metcalfe (and I went to MIT as well).
But the real problem is that the companies don’t just have a monopoly on the wires — they have been able to obscure, obfuscate and even change history so that even those ‘in the know’ haven’t been told the truth — and since this all happened over a few decades, they’ve been able to cover over their tracks.
And since many commenters are claiming things are getting better — Compared to fiber to the home at 1 gig speeds for 50 bucks, and the ability to choose who offers you service over the fiber utility they paid thousands of dollars for and never got… Better is a relative term.
By the end of 2014, America paid about $400 billion extra for a fiber optic future — and considering what we uncovered over the last two years, this is the low number.
What can be done about it? It is time to hold the companies accountable, as well as expose the failure of the regulatory system to enforce basic commitments.
It’s not going to get better. Verizon’s new plan to shut off the copper and move the rural areas to wireless is already underway.
I wrote a lot about this on Huff Po, and before that Harvard Nieman Watchdog (2006 to 2012, when it closed.)