Having it Both Ways with the Telco Carriers

The Media and Democracy Coalition is objecting to the fact that AT&T and Verizon are streamlining their operations.  The opponents of the Telco carriers always seem to want it both ways:  When it comes to carriers making money or protecting their existing businesses, opponents insisit on public policies that will promote competition at the expense of the carriers.  Yet the same people expect carriers to spend billions on improving infrastructure or maintaining redundancies in workforce.

Opponents of the telecoms often savor the thought of over-the-top service wreaking creative destruction upon the established telecom and cable TV operators.  Subsidized bandwidth for Netflix, cable TV “cord cutting“, and the demise of carrier phone service in favor of Voice over IP providers like Skype — these are all good things, we are told.  With carrier land-line revenues dwindling and what could be the beginning of a trend with pay TV “cord cutting”, the opponents of carriers could be getting their wish.  Yet the telecom carriers are continually portrayed as stingy on infrastructure investment and jobs, while Internet companies are portrayed as heroes despite the opposite being true.

When AT&T complains about genuine lack of spectrum, they’re not supposed to be able to buy it from Qualcomm or get it from a T-Mobile merger. But the company is certainly blamed for selling less wireless capacity to mobile broadband users.  It would be nice if the carriers could spend ever-increasing billions, even while facing an increasingly competitive marketplace, but we can’t have it both ways in the real world.