Friday, August 14, 2009

Big telcos, cablecos say no thanks to broadand stimulus funds

This week saw the nation's three big telcos (AT&T, Verizon, Qwest) and the dominant cable company issue a firm "no thanks" to the $7.2 billion in broadband infrastructure grants and loans in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports AT&T, Verizon and Comcast say they are flush with cash to upgrade and expand their networks on their own and don't need the money. They also don't like the conditions attached to the funding, fearing it would create regulatory precedents that would threaten their closed, proprietary networks. "We are concerned that some new mandates seem to go well beyond current laws and FCC rules," said Walter McCormick, president of USTelecom, a trade group that represents telecom companies including AT&T and Verizon, is quoted as saying.

This is all well and good. Subsidies should be directed to smaller providers, local governments and cooperatives who have a greater commitment to their local areas and can likely do a far better job than the big guys.

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