Talk about timing. The week Congress finally agreed to give the major US telcos immunity from lawsuits related to their wiretap involvement, Verizon President and COO Denny Strigl in his NXTcomm08 keynote speech says the U.S. telco industry leads the world in broadband and mobile “in the ways that count.” and that it is "unfairly maligned"
Hmm...The country had a fiber vision in the early 90s and 15 years later we are still mostly on copper. Verizon (and other RBOCs) inherited the envy of world's telecom infrastructure from Ma Bell. It has had a benevolent regulator in the FCC for the last decade which has been pro-industry, pro-consolidation far more than pro-consumer. Maligned?
But, Denny let's get specific and count the ways as you say that count.
You say we have 100 million broadband connections. Is that using the FCC definition of broadband as 200 kbps? Or it is as of June 13 when the FCC revised the definition to a whopping 768 kbps?
You say there is broadband service in every zip code. Is that using the FCC definition that if one household has broadband (yes, uno) the whole zip code is considered "broadband-covered"?
You say three quarters of the US population has at least 2 broadband providers and some as many as six or seven. Ok, if that means competition why do US consumers pay so much more than consumers in other countries? See this data from the OECD which you quote in other parts of your speech.
You say "broadband wireless service...is growing three times faster in the U.S. than elsewhere, and ignores differences in geography.". Denny, Nokia sells 100 million phones a year in China and India - yes a year - and they have as obscure places as we do in the US. Like Tibet. Want to bet they will have more 3G coverage than us in a few years? BTW - Only 25% of us today have 3G access compared to 75% in Japan and Korea.
You say US wireless consumers "use more minutes, pay lower prices and have greater choices". Yes, we use more minutes because, unlike in many other countries, our plans double-count. Incoming and outgoing minutes are both counted. More choice in the US? You need to go to the UK. Pay lower prices? Cross-border call rates are capped in the EU. US Consumers pay $ 1 to 4 a minute when we travel. Consumer Reports has for the last 6 years reported US mobile services one of the worst services its large readership rates across industries.
You say "Unlike other countries, what we have accomplished has come not through [government] policy but through private investment". Private Investment? What about the $ 200 billion Cringely wrote about?. And why are telecoms taxed so heavily in the US compared to other products? If our private telcos are working effectively why do we need $ 40 billion worth of annual taxes to regulate/subsidize the industry?
Back to the immunity. If the telcos did not have a choice in the wiretap matter - if the Feds mandated them - I can understand the immunity. But it sets a bad precedent. Now the telcos want one for the lawsuits against them for wireless early termination fees. And likely next up a call for protection against a growing number of state regulators scrutinizing Verizon services.
"Unfairly Maligned"? More like charmed life I would say.