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Americans were deceived and defrauded by many of their telephone companies to the tune of $200 billion -- money that was supposed to have gone to pay for a broadband future we don't -- and never will -- have.
Over the decade from 1994-2004 the major telephone companies profited from higher phone rates paid by all of us, accelerated depreciation on their networks, and direct tax credits an average of $2,000 per subscriber for which the companies delivered precisely nothing in terms of service to customers. That's $200 billion with nothing to be shown for it.
This could all be credited to technology misadventure and forgotten if it weren't for the money. The telcos played games with state utility commissions, cutting deals with the states to deploy new technologies in exchange for "incentives," which were new charges and new ways of charging customers. One typical ploy was to offer to freeze basic telephone rates for a period of years (typically five) then deploy a bunch of new services, which would be sold on an a la carte basis. The problem with this is that it applied analog economics to what were now digital services. The cost of providing digital services is always going DOWN, not up, so the telcos that might have been forced to cut rates instead offered to freeze them, locking in an effective multiyear rate increase.