back to article AT&T’s CEO has a solution to US broadband woes despite billions sunk into the problem. You’ll never guess what it is

In an extraordinary piece of advocacy, the CEO of AT&T has not only highlighted the persistent problem of broadband provision in the US but also offered a solution: giving billions of taxpayer dollars to his company to fund its rollout. There is one critical detail missing in John Stankey’s op-ed in Politico this week, however …

  1. oiseau Silver badge

    Cheky bastard

    ... offered a solution: giving billions of taxpayer dollars to his company to fund its rollout.

    Cheeky oligopolic bastard with pockets full of senators, congressmen, regulators and billions to make them dance to his tune.

    But it is not only a US thing: these companies are transnational corporations and their dastardly deeds encompass the whole world.


    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Cheky bastard

      Perhaps give all the money to Google Fibre??

      It may incentivise Amazon Fibre to enter the marketplace??

      Makes you weep in praise that the UK has Openreach (a BT Group business) with statutory and regulated ‘equivalence of access’.

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    You missed out...

    ...the bit where is say a local authority tries to fix the issue, the Telcos get the lawyers involved to keep the status quo.

  3. Shadow Systems

    An even easier solution.

    Arrest all the CEO's of all the communications companies that have accepted federal funds to roll out high speed networks & have failed to deliver.

    Hold them personally, criminally, financially liable for the defrauding of the government.

    Freeze the assets of those corporations & fine them all the money they've received thus far plus an additional trillion as punishment to be paid by said corporations and NOT their customers.

    Nationalize the entire grid, make the grid itself a pure fibre optic network to every square mile of the nation so that any future structures built within each block have *literally* only to worry about "the last mile" interconnections.

    Since our tax dollars have already paid for this network ten times over or more, make any future use by communications companies purely based upon whom offers the best service at the most reasonable price. They can't claim their network is better than someone else's, it's all on the same fibre optic grid, so all that's left is if they bother to treat their customers like gold or like shit. The gold ones will succeed, the shit ones will die.

    "But what about those poor CEO's? Won't someone think of the poor CEO's?"

    Tough shit. We've already showered them in so much money over the years that, had we just invested the money into the original network build out rather than paying these bastards to install it, we would not only already HAVE the network, we'd be able to pour money into the REST of the world to help lift the impoverished up out of the mud. We can't DO that at the moment because WE'RE the ones mired in the mud. FFS, even Outer Elbonia has a better network than we do and all they have is two tin cans with a bit of frayed string!

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: An even easier solution.

      Financially liable isn't enough.

      Sentence them to the electric chair. Sentence to be carried out in two years with electrodes made of copper or fiber optics depending on which has more miles in their network.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: An even easier solution.

      It sounds as though you have aready nationalised the grid but forgot to do the paperwork.

      If the telcos have already had $400 billion to install nationwide fibre and haven't, shirley they are collectively guilty of fraud.

      They could learn new trades like making number plates and uniforms in the chokey while the rest of America gets on with building a decent 'democratised';service.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An even easier solution.

      "But what about those poor CEO's? Won't someone think of the poor CEO's?"

      Hmmm ...

      Burn them at the stake?

      Just to set an example.

      Mine's the one with the box of matches and can of lighter fluid.


  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Pretty Darned Obvious.

    John Stankey obviously studied under Bernie Madoff ...... and learnt diddly squat squared ‽

    Thank you, America. What would we do without you?

  5. eldakka Silver badge

    Everybody agrees - in fact, agreed a decade ago - that a move to fiber optic cables is the inevitable next evolution of communication.

    Everyone, that is, except for an Australian Liberal Government who gutted a planned optical fiber rollout and replaced it with using existing, obselete, in many cases due for replacement anyway due to age and wear and tear, copper and co-ax cable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, they did agree to start with, it's only when Rupert disagreed it was gutted and in return his puppet got promoted to the big seat so he could show such excellent leadership abilities as taking a holiday during unprecedented times of strife, or, during another unprecedented time decide it was a good time to sue tech companies for upsetting Daddy Murdoch instead of helping his people..

      AC as I'm still on a working visa and would like to get to PR once I've managed to jump through enough hoops (and they stop changing the size and distance of the hoops)

  6. David 132 Silver badge

    “Geographic Precision”

    ’...argues Stankey in his piece. “First, we need to identify where broadband is unavailable with geographic precision.”’

    Oh, you mean as in, “we offer service to one person in this zipcode/census block, so we can record it as being available to everyone else therein”??

    Duplicitous, disgraceful shyster.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

      Re: “Geographic Precision”

      They've had that kind of thing for years. The address (house number, street, ZIP) is the first step of selling wired service.

      When I was about to move out of my last apartment 14 years ago because I bought a house for myself and the then-fiancée, AT&T helpfully told me I couldn't get DSL there [1]. While I thought that was a bunch of bull, since they obviously had phone service there and it was a newer neighborhood. We were there just over a year [2] when AT&T U-verse (crazy fast DSL) became available, and that's what we've had since, even after moving to another house last year [3].

      1. And they were going to charge me a cool $50 just to transfer the local "25 calls per month out, no long distance" phone line. I told them to cancel all service instead; I only had the number because of the DSL.

      2. We flirted with Comcast in the interim, which was a disaster of it's own.

      3. Thankfully, they charged me *nothing* for the re-install -- progress! They did start charging me rental fees on the TV-end boxes (one a DVR, one not) that I'd had for years, without warning/agreement, but I managed to talk to the right people and get a monthly "loyalty credit" that offsets that. After paying enough years -- and bypassing the scripted zombies -- I guess they realized they could cut me a break.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: “Geographic Precision”

        Can only be a matter of time before they introduce some new charges for, I don't know, polishing the bits and bytes. I mean, it's not as if, in the Land of the Free, you have much choice. You've already had the "chance" to try the "competition"!

        So, stop moaning and hand over the dollars, already!

  7. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

    Mr. Stankey

    Have you no shame?

  8. all ears

    Is it Stankey or Shankey?

    Author can't quite decide. I say it's spinach and I say the hell with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it Stankey or Shankey?

      "Stinky" is more like it. This "proposal" reeks of the usual corporate government-lobbying bull.

  9. GeekyDee

    this again? The US will never learn, even 24 years on, from the 1996 Telecommunications Act; 200B US$ and no fiber laid... /sigh

  10. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    God bless America!

    It's easy to cost and mandate universal access and seeing as there is little or no competition, it's also easy to pay for it by cross-subsidies: people close to an exchange pay a little more than cost to help pay for the cost of connecting those a little further from an exchange. Network effects mean that there are never that many people far away from an exchange. In fact laying cable to someone in the sticks is relatively cheap because you don't have to worry about digging up the road, etc. to provide the service. Of course, you can still use directional radios for some places, but basically anywhere that already has a phone line, can also have fibre. But, without the dual incentives of monthly rental and connection-based charging, how are CEOs expect to fund their mistresses and property habits?

  11. LDS Silver badge

    It's funny how they could connect rural areas with telephone cables in a distant past...

    ... but now with all the modern technology they can't do the same with fibre cables. The reason is wireless is cheaper although with its issues, and any saved dollar can be put in executive bonuses and shareholder dividends.

    Anyway any government fund to cover "rural" areas should be paid only after a given area is covered with the requested technology, and after it has been found functional. Not before.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: It's funny how they could connect rural areas with telephone cables in a distant past...

      The reason is that 100 years ago companies were given a monopoly provided their ensured "near" universal coverage. Which they were interested in doing anyway because the more people have phones, the more money they made, because the more people made calls, which were very expensive.

      The cable companies biggest beef is the loss of subscribers to their packages of dubious worth: 300 channels of the same shit and pay extra for each type of sport and anything else you might actually want to watch.

  12. RLWatkins

    What about the "broadband tax"?

    In the US, disguised on everyone's ISP bill as a "tax", is a government-authorized fee intended to fund the extension of broadband to all US households.

    Thus far we have paid AT&T and their ilk something like $600BN this way. They've reported it as profit, not used the money the way we're told they were required to, and recently had the FCC re-classify 1.5 mbit/sec cellular as "broadband" so that they could claim they've now fulfilled that mandate.

    So none of this crap surprises us over here.

  13. That 8 Bit Guy

    Taking the rough with the smooth

    I work for them and take all level 3 calls. They buy out all the local telcos, change the terms and conditions of service and give customers less for more money. Yet we have access to internet and quality (hysterical laughter) and the plebs pay through the nose. 60% of workers are online. How many companies pay internet fees, rent, insurance? Why would they?

    My department has closed offices permanently. I am my own IT. My car insurance is 70% less, I work more hours. Rural areas have free unlimited 4G (60gb) service for payg from At&t. Nobody else does that. Makes it that you can work from anywhere. Thanks At&t.

  14. DS999 Silver badge

    Congress should stand pat for the moment

    Let the 5G rollout and Starlink play out for a few years, and see where things are going. It may not be necessary to "wire" everyone, and it would be much cheaper to subsidize 5G towers in rural areas than wiring homes in areas where the density is less than one household per mile, and there are often 1/4 mile to several miles of private road between the public right of way and that household.

    If they do subsidize it they should try giving all the money to rural electric cooperatives who they subsidized for bringing them electricity decades ago. They know how to get the job done, and being customer owned have a lot longer investment horizon. The telcos and cablecos will just pocket the money and do the minimum possible or less.

  15. earl grey

    AT&T - stayin sleazy

    Not sure why, but i always wanted to kick stinky in the nutz.

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