AT&T wants a “level playing field” only when the rules benefit them

by: William Neilson JrJuly 19, 2014

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AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Comcast love to yell and scream about needing a “level playing field” whenever the whiff of competition comes into their areas.

  • When citizens in Georgia were tired of having JUST 3 Mbps connections through AT&T DSL with no alternative, AT&T tried to ban competition by claiming that the “rules of the road should be fair.”
  • When Cablevision was desperate to block Verizon FiOS from entering Glen Cove, NY, Cablevision tried to argue that because Verizon FiOS wasn’t offering free cable TV to a few parts of the city, that FiOS should not be allowed due to the “unfair advantage.”
  • When Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink got nervous about a number of competitors entering the state of North Carolina, they spent four years lobbying (and eventually getting passed) for a bill that all-but made it impossible for others to enter their markets in the name of “promoting fairness.”
  • When AT&T didn’t want to compete in Wisconsin, they lobbied politicians to try and pass legislation which banned such competition. AT&T whined about fairness and claimed that this bill was just “fiscal responsibility.”

Yet, as we see above, these same providers seem to love making it as difficult as possible for other companies to enter their markets.

Enter Mississippi. Here, AT&T signed a 10-year contract in 2005 with the state of Mississippi for a master contract which basically makes AT&T the broadband provider of a number of government buildings and schools that opt into the state broadband program (which helps the schools pay for broadband).

Many in the school districts within Mississippi were waiting for this contract to expire so that competitive bids could be put forth and the service could be improved.

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The technology coordinator for one school district wrote to the FCC telling them of how their service (and others around the state) was just “not competitive.” The coordinator also asked the FCC to allow for some sort of “multi-vendor” association with the schools for better service. In fact, 15 school districts have opted out of the state contract and instead pay for a private broadband provider who gives them BETTER service at a LOWER price.

So, what happened next?

AT&T somehow got an additional two years tacked onto their state contract before the current one even expired. No competitive bids were allowed. Additionally, there are questions about whether the state is paying too much for AT&T service, which few seem to be happy with.

On top of all of this, the contract between the state and AT&T is closed by a court order and can only be inspected by government customers of the Mississippi Information and Technology Services who hand out these contracts.

So, the contract is hidden from the public, was extended without public input and has questions about whether the contract is currently over-paying AT&T? Hardly a level playing field.

  • MasterMuffin

    Corruption and greed FTW

    • Guest 123

      Welcome to the new America!

      • MasterMuffin


  • Magnetic1

    The fact that these companies have time to meddle in the politics of FCC enforcements is cause for concerns. If these companies had proper competition in their respective markets then they should be busy trying to compete by bringing innovation to the market. I only see $100 month data plans. And that is hardly innovation.

    • Mike Palmer

      Yet most isp’s are losing money…… So what’s the answer?

      • LivinInDC

        Who’s losing money?

      • Amadeus Klein

        If you’re being serious you need to check your facts… existing ISP’s come with built in profitability….

        • Mike Palmer

          In 2013 cable companies lost 8 percent to cord cutter’s and its only getting worse. I never said that they don’t have a profit but if they keep losing money like this then there will be no profit. I have been in the business for 15 years and I see it everyday.

    • Brian Vickery

      I will NOT be surprised to see that the people who work in the FCC used to work at Comcast, AT&T, Verizon et al. You think the FCC is bad, you should take a gander at the SEC (Security Exchange Commission). That’s the group that regulates Wall Street, and most of them used to work on Wall St. And those on Wall Street, lot of them used to work in the SEC.

  • Cole Raney

    We do need competition. AT&T doesn’t even try to compete in markets with other major internet services. It is embarrassing that AT&T home internet is slower than their old 3G network for the bottom plan. Their 4G network outspeeds many of their higher plans.

    In my city, it doesn’t seem like AT&T is much different in cost than Comcast, and Comcast is better.

    We do have 2 services that offer competitively priced services that go up to 1 gigabit per second, but one is limited in service area, and the other has a stupidly low data limit (thing under 1 gigabyte).

    Unless you live in one of the poor neighborhoods in town, Comcast is your best bet. If you live in the poor neighborhoods, you can get the awesome UC2B.

    • comajorr

      who are the politicans that are getting paid off? Why else do this in secret?

    • [A]dri[A]n

      How is their home internet slow? My internet is pretty damn fast.

      • Cole Raney

        3 mbps for the lowest one. 10 should be the minimum, and that isn’t even that fast.

    • SY

      Having competition isn’t the only way to go.
      If the companies, like cable co’s and ISP’s can lobby government, why cant you, the people? High Speed internet is basically an essential service now and surly you can propose a bill to create the supply of good service for an affordable price. If the Cable cos and ISPs want to play in that area, they’d have to play along with the rules.
      Throwing it out there that waiting for others to provide isn’t as sweet as creating for yourself.

      • Cole Raney

        I don’t have much time to get involved in local politics. To be honest though, the problem won’t be a problem much longer. UC2B is expanding. They partnered with a company called iTV3, which is owned by the same people as Fanily Video is.

        They are a decent company with the absolute fastest internet in town, rivaling google fiber.

      • Kass

        With a VERY basic understanding of the lobbying system in the USofA (a.k.a. just the amount I’ve read/heard/watched through the years in international news and from opponents of the system), the people as a collective wouldn’t have anywhere near the amounts of money these cable companies sink into lobbying government every year – it’s simply not feasible right now. Unless, a specific body was created to lobby for the people by the people and grown for a number of years in terms of man power, reach and money before they can then start challenging on a bit of a level playing field.

        But, then you must remember, all these companies they would be trying to fight are vultures who literally care for nothing more than collecting vast sums of money for the least amount of actual effort and once this specific public lobbying group has money to play with, who’s to say that some of the main people in there can’t be bought off by the big cable companies to basically sabotage the entire endeavour in the long run and keep the status quo?

        It’s always about money…and whenever there’s money, there’s always some greedy bastard willing to selling his/her soul or child in order to get a piece of the pie. There’s simply not enough incorruptable people in positions of power/influence in this world to make an appreciable difference. Just about anyone has their price – it’s just a matter of who’s willing to pay it.

        Of course, I know that I could be completely and utterly wrong.

      • Amadeus Klein

        “why cant you, the people?” Really???? Are you that IGNORANT about the US political system???

        Money genius… a person working a typical job in the US does not have the money to compete with billion dollar companies and lobbyists….

        Those emails and calls that we make go right into the junk mail box, if you haven’t donated big money to a candidate your opinions don’t mean squat… Oh and forget about voting them out since even when we do they are replaced by a carbon copy. Why? Because who is it you think supports the candidates campaigns???

  • paxmos

    Conclusion= our politicians are lovable.

  • monkeybutts

    This is America where lying, cheating degenerates can prosper.