USTA: More Lies Faster: Repetitive Promise Syndrome…And Microsoft Says it will do better Net Neutrality Fight

The United States Telecom Association (USTA), the lobbying arms for AT&T (SBC) and Verizon, is running a blitz of misleading ads—online and on T.V. As Congress prepares to debate the “Save our Internet” issue this week, USTA is scrambling to amplify its message: “Let our members—AT&T and Verizon—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 company’s private “pipes.”

One of USTA’s many front-group lobbying efforts is something it calls “The Future…Faster.” Supposedly a “coalition,” Faster is nothing more than a collection of past promises broken. But it’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 what’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 ago—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 “Bring Medical Solutions to All Americans;” that it will “Bring the World of Knowledge to Schools and Educators;” and “More Choice… for Consumers.” 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 didn’t deliver then and they don’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. That’s the reality. And if we permit that to happen the “Reality” 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 `we’re data collecting on you,’ 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.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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