It’s like they are trying to confirm the President’s argument:
AT&T Inc (T.N) on Wednesday raised pressure on the U.S. telecom regulator’s work on new “net neutrality” rules, saying it would stop investing in new high-speed Internet connections in 100 U.S. cities until the Web traffic rules are settled.
The statement from AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson is the first business move by an Internet service provider in response to President Barack Obama’s unexpected call on the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to regulate such companies more like public utilities.
The statement came as AT&T has been spending heavily on acquisitions and days after it had cut its capital spending estimate for 2015.
The industry and Republican lawmakers have been protesting Obama’s proposal, saying stricter Internet traffic regulations would stifle growth and investment.
“We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” Stephenson said at an analyst conference.
Net Neutrality and expansion of a fiber network are not incompatible- in fact, I would expand more because of the chance net neutrality will pass, as it will mean that if you have the best services for the best price, people will use you, as opposed to using your monopolistic power to squeeze other companies and trap users and provide sub-par service. Which I guess is why AT&T is freaking out.
According to a recent study by Ookla Speedtest, the U.S. ranks a shocking 31st in the world in terms of average download speeds. The leaders in the world are Hong Kong at 72.49 Mbps and Singapore on 58.84 Mbps. And America? Averaging speeds of 20.77 Mbps, it falls behind countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Uruguay.
Its upload speeds are even worse. Globally, the U.S. ranks 42nd with an average upload speed of 6.31 Mbps, behind Lesotho, Belarus, Slovenia, and other countries you only hear mentioned on Jeopardy.
So how did America fall behind? How did the country that literally invented the internet — and the home to world-leading tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Facebook, Google, and Cisco — fall behind so many others in download speeds?
Susan Crawford argues that “huge telecommunication companies” such as Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and AT&T have “divided up markets and put themselves in a position where they’re subject to no competition.”***
If a market becomes a monopoly, there’s often nothing whatever to force monopolists to invest in infrastructure or improve their service. Of course, in the few places where a new competitor like Google Fiber has appeared, telecoms companies have been spooked and forced to cut prices and improve service in response to the new competition. But that isn’t happening everywhere. It’s very expensive for a new competitor to come into a market, like telecommunications, that has very high barriers to entry. Laying copper wire or fiber optic cable is expensive, and if the incumbent companies won’t grant new competitors access to their infrastructure, then the free market forces of competition don’t work and infrastructure stagnates, even as consumer anger and desire for competition rises due to poor service.
American business is no longer about making the best product. It’s about using political clout to squeeze the most amount of money out of the user and the government as is humanly possible.