The United States Telecom Association (USTA), the lobbying arms for AT&T (SBC) and Verizon, is running a blitz of misleading adsâ€”online and on T.V. As Congress prepares to debate the “Save our Internetâ€ issue this week, USTA is scrambling to amplify its message: â€œLet our membersâ€”AT&T and Verizonâ€”control the Internet in the U.S.” Or, as AT&T honcho Ed Whitacre now infamously said, the U.S. Internet should operate as the companyâ€™s private â€œpipes.â€
One of USTAâ€™s many front-group lobbying efforts is something it calls â€œThe Futureâ€¦Faster.â€ Supposedly a â€œcoalition,â€ Faster is nothing more than a collection of past promises broken. But itâ€™s a useful reminder about how USTA and its members are never to be trusted. On its website, one can click on a number of categories to learn about how the Bell broadband agenda will help America, and why one should disregard the call for consumer and public interest safeguards. But whatâ€™s striking about Faster is that the Telcos are now making the exact same phony promises and claims said to Congress and the public more than ten years agoâ€”to help them win favorable language in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. (So, hey, all you members of Congress who have taken their dough. You better do a fact-check on what the USTA now purports will be a potential public benefit. You are about to buy the digital Brooklyn Bridge for at least the second time).
Faster says supporting its agenda will give â€œBring Medical Solutions to All Americans;â€ that it will â€œBring the World of Knowledge to Schools and Educators;â€ and â€œMore Choiceâ€¦ for Consumers.â€ These are the exact promises made by USTA, NCTA, and both the GOP and Democratic leadership to the country back in 1996. For example, back in 1994 and testifying before Congress, a Bell witness promised that the country would have a broadband network that would “spur the development of new interactive consumer services in education, entertainment, government, and health care.”
They didnâ€™t deliver then and they donâ€™t intend to do so now. We all know what AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, et al really want: to help their tired old media monopoly business model gain a faster hold over the broadband digital marketplace. Thatâ€™s the reality. And if we permit that to happen the â€œRealityâ€ will be harmful to consumers, seniors, educators and everyone else who desires a America that reflects our highest aspirations as a culture. Not some dumbed-down, meter always running, and `weâ€™re data collecting on you,â€™ AT&T/Verizon/USTA Internet.
By the way, we received a call yesterday from Microsoft. They promised that the company would now be mobilizing more resources to get Congress to pass network neutrality legislation.