By B.N. Frank
According to a group of telecom experts, “The Irregulators”, Americans in all states have already paid for telecom companies to maintain and/or upgrade landlines as well as provide safer and more secure fiber optics to the premises (FTTP) connections rather than unreliable and unsafe wireless connections.
Digital Divide Scandal: AT&T et al. let the entire US wired infrastructure deteriorate in every state, never competing and never upgrading their state wired public utilities. They made fiber upgrades selectively, mostly in affluent areas that would generate the most revenue, rather than provide universal service as required by the Communications Act. They nevertheless obtained valuable rights-of-way and other concessions by claiming the new construction was for ‘Title II’, common carrier services.
More from Irregulator Bruce Kushnick:
Did the fiber optic, broadband bait and switch actions that appear in Chart 1 happen in your state — ISDN, Info Highway, Video Dialtone, DSL, (or AT&T’s U-verse)? How about the multiple wireless bait and switch boondoggles? Of course they did. Yet no state has examined how the Digital Divide was created in any Verizon, AT&T and Centurylink (Lumen) state — (the 3 holding companies that are mostly in control of America’s wired telecommunications, and thus wireless communications).
Worse, customers were charged for upgrades which were not deployed and were supposed to replace the copper wires with fiber optic wires. And state laws were changed to force customers to fund these different upgrades, over and over, and over — over the last 3 decades.
Of course, bribery has led to legislators being complicit in this too. From Ars Technica:
AT&T to pay $23M fine for bribing powerful lawmaker’s ally in exchange for vote
AT&T said it’s “committed to ensuring that this never happens again.”
AT&T agreed to pay a $23 million fine “to resolve a federal criminal investigation into alleged misconduct involving the company’s efforts to unlawfully influence former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan,” a Department of Justice press release said today.
“The investigation of AT&T Illinois is being resolved with a deferred prosecution agreement under which the company admitted it arranged for payments to be made to an ally of Madigan to influence and reward Madigan’s efforts to assist AT&T Illinois with respect to legislation sought by the company,” the announcement said. AT&T “admitted that in 2017 it arranged for an ally of Madigan to indirectly receive $22,500 in payments from the company.”
AT&T “made no effort to ensure any work was performed” in exchange for the payment, the Justice Department said, adding that AT&T acknowledged that the payment was made “in exchange for Madigan’s vote and influence over a bill.” The bill ended AT&T’s obligation to provide landline phone service to all state residents.
AT&T allegedly used a lobbying firm as an intermediary to make the payment and disguise its true purpose. US Attorney John Lausch’s office filed a one-count criminal information in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, charging AT&T Illinois with using an interstate facility to promote legislative misconduct. Former AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza was indicted on five charges as a result of the same investigation.
“La Schiazza conspired in 2017 with former Speaker Michael J. Madigan, Madigan’s close friend, Michael McClain, and others, to corruptly arrange for $22,500 to be paid to a Madigan ally… Although the members of the conspiracy formulated a pretextual assignment for Madigan’s ally to disguise why the ally was being paid, the ally performed no actual work for AT&T Illinois and had no role in advancing the legislation,” the Justice Department said.
Madigan and McClain were previously indicted on racketeering and bribery charges. A new superseding indictment adds an AT&T-related conspiracy charge. Madigan, a Democrat, was House speaker for all but two years between 1983 and 2021, before resigning. The original “22-count indictment accuses Madigan of leading for nearly a decade a criminal enterprise whose purpose was to enhance Madigan’s political power and financial well-being while also generating income for his political allies and associates,” the Justice Department said in March.
AT&T pushed bill to end landline obligation
AT&T’s payment was designed to influence a 2017 vote on Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) legislation that “terminate[d] AT&T Illinois’ costly obligation to provide landline telephone services to all Illinois residents,” the deferred prosecution agreement says. The law was passed by the legislature and vetoed by the governor, but both houses of the legislature voted to override the veto.
Under the agreement with AT&T, “the government will defer prosecution on the charge for two years and then seek to dismiss it if AT&T Illinois abides by certain conditions, including continuing to cooperate with any investigation related to the misconduct alleged in the information,” the Justice Department said, continuing:
In addition to the monetary penalty and its continued cooperation with the government, AT&T Illinois’s obligations under the agreement include implementing a new compliance and ethics program and providing annual reports to the government regarding remediation and implementation of the program. If AT&T Illinois fails to completely fulfill each of its obligations under the agreement during the two-year term, the US Attorney’s Office can initiate prosecution of the charged offense.
AT&T must pay the $23 million fine to the Crime Victims Fund within 30 days. “We hold ourselves and our contractors to the highest ethical standards. We are committed to ensuring that this never happens again,” AT&T said in a statement to media organizations.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to protect Americans by regulating the telecom industry. Instead, it has primarily catered to it for decades (see 1, 2). In fact, according to the Irregulators’ research, all FCC grants for the deployment of broadband on land and in space are essentially unjustified (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15). Additionally, in 2021, a federal court ruled in favor of organizations and petitioners that sued the FCC for NOT adequately protecting Americans from radiation exposure from wireless sources including 5G.
Nevertheless, the FCC (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) as well as other American government and state agencies and committees (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and obviously, some legislators, have continued to promote, enable, and fund controversial and risky 5G deployment and densification (see 1, 2, 3) as well as that of 4G and public Wi-Fi (which also poses known risks). Deployment also includes not-so-great-afterall broadband satellites which were warned about AGAIN last month in a U.S. Government Accountability Report.
Activist Post reports regularly about telecom shenanigans as well as privacy invasive and unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives and the following websites:
- The Irregulators
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Americans for Responsible Technology
- Wireless Information Network
Top image: Pixabay
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