How AT&T, Comcast and Other Telecom Giants Won the Internet . . . Forever

What’s In Store for You Online? Higher Prices, Fewer Voices.

By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief | June 14, 2018 | Original article here.

Two major developments this week promise to change the way you access and use the internet, both for the worse.

First, AT&T won approval Tuesday from a federal judge to purchase Time Warner, which owns CNN among other properties. Donald Trump had opposed the $85 billion deal, his comments laced with invective against CNN’s coverage of him. The deal cannot close for at least six days so the Justice Department has time to appeal if Trump so orders.

The ruling by Judge Richard Leon is likely to signal more mergers among telecom giants, something I wrote about four years ago as a major economic and political problem when Comcast tried to buy Time Warner. While there is reason to feel some sympathy for AT&T because of Trump’s personal grudge and its lack of news channels and movie studios like those owned by competitor Comcast, consumers benefit when we have more competition, not less.

The second adverse development came the day before with the end of net neutrality—treating equally all users of what we used to call the World Wide Web. In this action by the Federal Communications Commission, the Trump administration embraced what the cable companies know is good for them, but not what’s best for you. This major policy change is one more example of the bait-and-switch con artistry of Trump, who said he would drain the swamp and has since turned Washington into a profiteering paradise for swamp monsters.

Continue reading “How AT&T, Comcast and Other Telecom Giants Won the Internet . . . Forever”

Time to Break Up Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink

By Bruce Kushnick; New Networks Institute | June 10, 2018 | Original Medium article here.

The Mergers that Created Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink Were Failures

  • AT&T= SBC, Southwestern Bell, Pacific Telesis, SNET, Ameritech, BellSouth and the original AT&T.
  • Verizon = Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, GTE, Alltel, and MCI
  • CenturyLink = US West turned into Qwest

For the full story, read: The Book of Broken Promises; $400 Billion Broadband Scandal, now a free download.

  • In 1980, the original AT&T (“Ma Bell”) was the country’s major Telecom Utility and it held monopoly power over America’s telecommunications services and critical infrastructure: it controlled nearly 80% of US Wireline services as well as “long distance”, calls that cross state lines. Following a lengthy trial, in 1984, Ma Bell was broken up into seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), also called "Baby Bells" with the goal of providing increased competition, innovative services and lower prices — especially for long distance service.

  • GTE, SNET and Alltel were then independent, incumbent State Telecom Utilities that covered only about 20% of the United States.

After years of legal wranglings and cases, (one of which involved a long distance upstart, MCI) each RBOC controlled a group of states. Meanwhile, AT&T was spun off and it kept the long distance business and would later also offer internet and local phone service, as would MCI.

Continue reading “Time to Break Up Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink”

Monterey Cell Tower Con Moves to Watsonville

Print edition, Monterey Herald; Sunday, May 13, 2018

Watsonville, CA residents just dodged a bullet. Or did they?

With no quorum at their May 8th meeting, the City Council could not vote on a new ordinance that eliminates public hearings and Planning Commission review of “small cell” towers next to homes, schools, and businesses in Watsonville.

The same law firm that tried to con Monterey into believing that

“recent state and federal laws and regulations have preempted the city’s authority over permitting wireless communication facilities” is at it again in Watsonville.

Sadly, with small cell applications waiting for the new ordinance to be approved, the mayor, city attorney, and assistant city clerk have already signed onto the resolution to make the process a simple administrative permit.

By not showing up, the council created a problem:

  • There is an FCC deadline on these pending cell towers applications.
  • By letting the shot clock run out on applications deemed complete, these towers become approved.

Watsonville, please wake up. Your rights are in the process of being destroyed by your own city government.

Palo Alto Planning Director Resigns

By Kevin Kelly | Bay Area News Group April 19, 2018 at 7:09 pm; Original article here.

Hillary Gitelman, planning and community environment director for the city of Palo Alto, is resigning from her post. Her last day is May 11. (City of Palo Alto). Jonathan Lait will serve as interim director starting May 14, when Hillary Gitelman leaves for private sector job.

Hillary Gitelman, who became Palo Alto’s planning and community environment director in late 2013, has accepted a new position with San Francisco-based Environmental Science Associates, according to a news release. Her last day with Palo Alto is May 11, and Assistant Director Jonathan Lait will step in as interim planning director.

Gitelman’s accomplishments include overseeing an update of the city’s comprehensive plan through 2030 and working with the City Council to establish an annual cap on office construction, new rules for accessory dwelling units and new housing impact fees.

“In Palo Alto, the Planning Department is at the center of many complex and demanding initiatives, and Hillary and her team of dedicated employees have shown great resilience and adaptation to meet the community’s high expectations,” City Manager James Keene said in the news release.

City publicist Claudia Keith said Gitelman’s departure is not expected to delay ongoing planning projects, such as the council’s housing work plan.

Gitelman recently drew the ire of the United Neighbors citizens group after she upheld an advisory board’s decision to allow Verizon to install 11 small-cell antennas atop utility poles in four residential neighborhoods.

Palo Alto Verizon CPMRA Plan Appealed to City Council

By Kevin Kelly | kkelly@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group; Original Article here.
PUBLISHED: April 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Palo Alto Cluster One Appeals

  1. Appeal — Ap-18-2: Herc Kwan, 2490 Louis Rd. (27 pages)
  2. Appeal — Ap-18-3: Francesca Kautz, 3324 South Court (8 pages)
  3. Appeal — AP-18-4: Christopher Lynn, 2802 Louis Rd. (5 pages)
  4. Appeal — AP-18-5: Jeanne Fleming, 2070 Webster St. (20 pages)
  5. Appeal — AP-18-6: RK Partharathy, 3409 Kenneth Dr. (12 pages)
  6. Appeal — AP-18-7: Russell Targ, 1010 Harriett St. (46 pages)
  7. Appeal — AP-18-8: Amrutha Kattamuri, 3189 Berryessa St. (126 pages)

More information at http://mystreetmychoice.com/paloalto.html

May 9, 2018 CHE Webinar — Invisible Hazards: RF Microwave Radiation Hazards
and Steps Needed for Policy Changes

Grassroots groups fight utility’s plan to install 11 Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antennas (CPMRA) too close to homes in four residential neighborhoods

A photo illustration shows, at right, what a new Verizon cell antenna mounted atop an existing utility pole would look like along Suzanne Drive in Palo Alto. (City of Palo Alto)

Verizon’s plan to install CPMRA antennas in Palo Alto neighborhoods has sparked an outcry from residents who consider the fixtures an eyesore and want them covered underground.

The first phase of the plan calls for 11 small antennas in four neighborhoods, part of a Verizon Wireless project to install 93 utility pole-mounted systems throughout Palo Alto to boost wireless service.

“The only reason Verizon doesn’t want to vault its equipment is that under-grounding it is more expensive than placing it on utility poles,” Annette Fazzino, widow of former Mayor Gary Fazzino, said in a statement by United Neighbors, a grassroots group which has filed appeals with the city against the Verizon project.

“But saving money is not Palo Alto’s responsibility. Palo Alto’s responsibility is to preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and we see no reason why this company should get a pass on adhering to the same aesthetics ordinances that the rest of us abide by.”

United Neighbors said the cities of Bern, Switzerland, and Rancho Palos Verdes require all or most telecom equipment to be stored in underground vaults.

In a statement, Verizon said it has worked with the Palo Alto community for more than two years on its small-cell design. “The appeal will only further delay our ability to provide the necessary network improvements to keep our customers connected,” Verizon publicist Heidi Flato wrote by email.

Given the intensity of the outcry, city staff decided to hold a public hearing on the Verizon project at the May 21 City Council meeting instead of placing it on the consent calendar as would normally happen.

Ruling in favor of Verizon, the city’s Architectural Review Board last month recommended allowing the devices to stay above ground. Verizon maintains it would not be able to underground the equipment while still meeting the city’s noise ordinance and other rules. The board advises Hillary Gitelman, the city’s Planning and Community Environment director, on project designs.

In appeals filed over the board’s recommendation, members of United Neighbors stated that Gitelman has given Verizon “the go-ahead to install hundreds of pounds of equipment on the utility poles at each location.” The 11 antennas are planned for the Midtown, Palo Verde, St. Claire Gardens and South of Midtown neighborhoods.

“It is our view that Palo Alto should be a leader in ensuring that the equipment required to support this service is thoughtfully integrated into residential neighborhoods,” United Neighbors member Jeanne Fleming wrote in her appeal.

“This means hiding it, not — as the Director’s decision would allow — mounting cheap, oversized equipment next to people’s homes — equipment that, in the words of Architectural Review Board member Robert Gooyer (who voted against the plan) — is ‘butt ugly.’ ”

Brain Tumors Incidence of Glioblastoma Rise in England 1995–2015

3/21/18 — by Alasdair Philips, Denis L. Henshaw, Graham Lamburn, and Michael O’Carroll; Original paper here.

ABSTRACT

Objective

To investigate detailed trends in malignant brain tumor incidence over a recent time period.

Methods

UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) data covering 81,135 ICD10 C71 brain tumors diagnosed in England (1995–2015) were used to calculate incidence rates (ASR) per 100k person–years, age–standardised to the European Standard Population (ESP–2013).

Results

We report a sustained and highly statistically significant ASR rise in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) across all ages. The ASR for GBM more than doubled from 2.4 to 5.0, with annual case numbers rising from 983 to 2531. Overall, this rise is mostly hidden in the overall data by a reduced incidence of lower grade tumors.

Conclusions

The rise is of importance for clinical resources and brain tumor etiology. The rise cannot be fully accounted for by promotion of lower–grade tumors, random chance or improvement in diagnostic techniques as it affects specific areas of the brain and only one type of brain tumor. Despite the large variation in case numbers by age, the percentage rise is similar across the age groups which suggests widespread environmental or lifestyle factors may be responsible.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A clear description of the changing pattern in incidence of brain tumor types
  • The study used extensive data from an official and recognized quality source
  • The study included histological and morphological information
  • The study identified a significant and concerning incidence time trend
  • Some evidence is provided to help guide future research into causal mechanism

Philips et al. Figure 2

Philips et al. Figure 6

Continue reading “Brain Tumors Incidence of Glioblastoma Rise in England 1995–2015”

Senator John McCain Rests His Case

May 3, 2018, by Ron Elving; Original article and audio file here

Anyone who has followed the saga of Senator John McCain or ever reacted with emotion to his words or actions will recognize the man speaking in this valedictory volume. The voice and manner are familiar enough that we can almost hear and see him on every page. It recalls his previous literary efforts (he has written seven books with longtime collaborator Mark Salter), but it also ventures deeper into our collective memories of McCain and his world — as we prepare to part with both.

John McCain Reads From ‘The Restless Wave’

The Restless Wave is a plain-spoken and often painful personal accounting; a résumé of a contentious career and a defense of controversial political decisions. It may inspire or enrage. But it is less an effort to provoke such conflicting responses than a paean to McCain’s idea of America.

McCain wants to celebrate the America he knew — or perhaps only imagined — in the full flower of its global pre-eminence. Call it heritage or call it myth, it is a concept of America that McCain clearly feels he personifies, and one he senses is passing even as he reaches the end of his own life.

At 81, McCain is battling the same kind of brain cancer that claimed his Senate friend and frequent antagonist Ted Kennedy. McCain knows the odds and even notes that he may not live to see this book published.

Continue reading “Senator John McCain Rests His Case”

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger: 5G Propaganda

T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announce that our two companies have reached an agreement to come together to form a new company – one that will deliver lower prices, better service — using T-Mobile’s 600 MHz and Sprint’s 2500 MHz Spectrum.

Comments to follow . . . following some more research.

Senator John McCain Appeals For Civility And Humility

May 1, 2018 by Domenico Montanaro; original article here.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is dealing with the effects of brain cancer, released an excerpt of his forthcoming memoir, The Restless Wave, that gives some of his philosophy on how to do it — and obliquely criticizes President Trump. The sometimes-cantankerous former presidential candidate and prisoner of war points out that he hasn’t at times lived up to his own standard, as he has "disagreed, sometimes too heatedly", with all of the six presidents he has served alongside.

McCain writes, humility is key:

"the self-knowledge that you possess as much inherent dignity as anyone else, and not one bit more. Among its other virtues, humility makes for more productive politics. If it vanishes entirely, we will tear our society apart"

Continue reading “Senator John McCain Appeals For Civility And Humility”

New Networks Institute Files to Halt Proposed Verizon-NY Settlement

NNI and the IRREGULATORS Call for a Continuation of the Investigation

April 27, 2018 by Bruce Kushnick; Original article here.

What’s At Stake

  • Billions in Cross-Subsidies: from the regulated State Wireline Telecom Utility to unregulated private Wireless companies
  • Rampant customer overcharging
  • Failure to upgrade cities’ Wireline infrastructure from copper to fiber optics
  • Decades of questionable tax losses

Governor Cuomo is implicated in eliminating these investigations. Learn More about this proposed settlement or Read Our Filing.

Summary

On March 2, 2018, a settlement was proposed between Verizon New York (Verizon-NY), the state-telecommunications utility, and the NY Department of Public Service, (NYPSC), joined by Communications of America, (“CWA”), and Public Utility Law Project), (“PULP”) to end an investigation that started in 2016, but was part of a series of proceedings over the last 5 years at the New York State Public Services Commission (NYPSC). This investigation consisted of two parts:

Part 1: Verizon has left NY state’s copper-based Wireline state utility networks to deteriorate and there has been a lack of upgrades to broadband or even maintenance of these existing wires.

Part 2: There has been massive financial shell game between the regulated Verizon-NY and the unregulated Verizon subsidiaries, especially Verizon Wireless.

The settlement includes some basic fixes to the neglected infrastructure for Part 1, but Part 2 has been eliminated from this proposed settlement.

Over the last 8 years New Networks Institute and the IRREGULATORS have uncovered a massive financial accounting shell game where billions of dollars have been charged to local phone customers, making the state utility networks a cash cow to fund the other unregulated Verizon businesses, including the build-out of the Verizon Wireless network. These cross-subsidies cost customers thousands of dollars extra and diverted billions in construction budgets to roll out the Verizon Wireless networks instead of upgrading cities’ Wireline infrastructure, among other harms.

These issues need to not only be investigated but the cross-subsidies need to immediately end.

The proposed settlement

  • Fails to even acknowledge the years of investigations by the State
  • Address any of the primary problems

In addition, Governor Cuomo’s fingerprints are all over the elimination of the investigations to help his broadband plan and to give other gifts to his corporate friends. Tucked away in the NY State budget was some Telecom-written wireless legislation that aids in the removal of city regulations and any examination of what the phone companies want to do for a non-existent wireless service, so-called “5G”.

Why is this Critical Now?

Most people do not understand that there is still state telecommunications utility, like water or gas or electricity and most people believe that the utility is just the aging copper wires.  They have been misinformed.

Fiber-to-the-Premises, (“FTTP”) for FiOS, and the wires used for the cell sites for Verizon Wireless, as well the Business Data Services , are ALL part of the state utility infrastructure and have been paid for mainly by Wireline customers.

  1. Verizon et al. have been dismantling the state utilities slowly for the last decade with the plan to remove any remaining public utility regulations or obligations and to hand over the State Telecom Wireline infrastructure to Verizon Wireless, making this infrastructure private property (which will block and harm competitors)

  2. The construction expenses for new infrastructure will remain mostly in the State Telecom Utility, but the perks of being a utility will be available to Verizon Wireless. At the same time, the pricing for service will move to the Wireless dollars-per-gigabyte plan, in order to make more money.

  3. This manipulation constitutes fraud. As we exposed, using manipulated accounting, Verizon et al. have made local service ‘appear’ unprofitable, but this has been artificial. The state utility now pays the majority of expenses, including construction, or “corporate operations” expense for all of the subsidiaries using the wires. And this manipulation means that they had major losses and major tax benefits, got the State to raise rates multiple times, and yet Verizon says that they can’t afford to upgrade rural areas or finish or even maintain cities. .

  4. Loss of Control Over Your Services. If you use your cell phone, if it is from Verizon, it goes to a cell site then to a Verizon wire, most of which are part of the State Telecom Utility. At home, Verizon’s plan is that your ‘high-speed’ cable TV will also become Wireless. But, ironically, Wireless requires a fiber optic wire, which would also be part of the State Telecom Utility — which remains conveniently unidentified in this scheme.

  5. Further Loss of Competition. Competitors who use these network wires will pay through the nose or not be allowed access. Net Neutrality, privacy, and all other aspects of communications are also in the cross-hairs. Getting rid of Net Neutrality allows Verizon to make the company’s other subsidiaries the priority, and getting rid of privacy allows you to be tracked and your information to be sold — similar to the recent Facebook debacle.

  6. This Is a Nationwide Problem: This is not just a Verizon-NY problem. Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink holding companies control the state incumbent utilities, and they have used the same accounting and business practices. Verizon-NY just happens to be a fully documented model of the issues.

  7. The FCC has been captured and is helping Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink in every possible way with 15–25 interlocking proceedings, like Net Neutrality, privacy, or ‘shutting off the copper’ and preempting state laws to give the companies complete control.

  8. This is the End Game. There are too many moving parts to explain here, but once the State Telecom Utility is confiscated in each state, one company per state would then control not only the infrastructure, but the other critical services using this infrastructure. These monopoly companies get to control the price of all services, including Wireless, and broadband. They can control and manipulate the speed to maximize profit, and they control who gets upgraded.

Read Our Filing. We’re calling for a halt to this Verizon NY gift and continued and expanded investigations because it exposes all of the financial flows of money and the cross-subsidies between Verizon New York and the affiliates. If we don’t do it, all of these next-step bad public policy actions will get worse.

Read a Summary of our Report: “Verizon New York’s 2016 Financial Annual Report: “Follow the Money: Financial Analysis and Implications”.

Need More Details? CLICK for a two-page Fact Sheet to see a few more details of this manipulated accounting. Here’s a few:

  • Verizon-NY Didn’t Pay Most Taxes: Since 2010–2016, Verizon NY lost $15.7 billion and didn’t pay most taxes; instead Verizon had tax benefits of $7.2 billion.
  • The Utility Illegally Funded the Wireless Networks. From 2010 to 2012, alone, Verizon NY paid about $2.8 billion to build out the fiber optic wires used by Verizon Wireless — and that money was charged to local phone customers.
  • Local phone customers paid over $1000.00 extra, per line, in rate increases since 2005. Worse, local phone customers have been paying around $500 extra a year; the actual costs to offer the copper-based services should have been in steep decline, and prices should have followed.
  • Low income families, seniors, small businesses — rural areas — all paid thousands of dollars extra.
  • There is no cable competition and the Verizon cut a deal with the cable companies to bundle wireless and/or let them rent the wireless networks.

CLICK TO PLEASE FILE “LATE” COMMENTS TO ENDORSE OUR PLAN:

NOTE: There was a comments period at the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC) which ended April 16th, 2018 and you (and everyone else) missed it. Thousands of people, companies, cities and politicians participated and testified in the previous related proceedings, but for this decision, NY State failed to properly notify these people and organizations — anyone — about this proceeding.

WE REQUEST:

  • We request an extension of the current comment period until July 15th, 2018 to examine the Verizon NY 2017 Financial Annual Report, published May 31, 2018.
  • We are calling for a halt to the proposed settlement between Verizon, NY, the NYPSC and parties, which has eliminated all mention of the investigation of the financial cross-subsidies between Verizon NY and Verizon’s subsidiaries
  • We are calling for the NYPSC to continue to investigate the billions of dollars in cross-subsidies between Verizon NY and Verizon Wireless and the other Verizon subsidiaries — then fix this ongoing financial shell game.

About Us: The IRREGULATORS is an independent consortium of senior telecom experts, analysts, forensic auditors, and lawyers who are former senior staffers from the FCC, state advocate and Attorneys General Office experts and lawyers, and former Telecom consultants. Members of the group have been working together, in different configurations, since 1999.

Click and visit our library of data, analysis, filings, etc. This is mostly dedicated to Verizon NY and the FCC’s current policies.