[Plura-list] Aaron Epstein got fiber; Ajit Pai, plague villain

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Fri Feb 12 11:29:16 EST 2021


This weekend, I'm participating in Boskone 58, Boston's annual sf


Tonight, I'm doing a reading with Karl Schroeder (5PM Pacific) and a
panel called "Entering the Cyberspace Era" with Beth Meacham, Jennifer
Marie Brissett, Errick Nunnally and Walter Jon Williams (630PM Pacific).


Today's links

* Aaron Epstein got fiber: All it took was an ad in the WSJ.

* Ajit Pai, plague villain: Killing rural broadband just before a plague.

* This day in history: 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🕵🏻‍♀️ Aaron Epstein got fiber

Last week, Aaron Epstein, a 90-year-old legendary Angeleno, took out ads
in the WSJ shaming AT&T for the abysmal quality of the broadband service
he gets in North Hollywood.


Epstein pointed out that his neighbors are locked-down film industry
professionals, totally dependent on fast internet for their livelihoods
- but they are stuck with 3mpbs DSL.

It worked: a week later, after national media attention, Epstein has
300mbps symmetrical fiber. AT&T figured that in this one instance, doing
its job was more important than protecting its shareholders.


Epstein's service costs $45/m for the first year, and $65/m thereafter
(the ad cost $10,000). The technicians who installed his fiber said that
they still wouldn't be able to connect his neighbors.

AT&T's gross revenues in 2020 were $171.8b.


🕵🏻‍♀️ Ajit Pai, plague villain

Personnel are policy: when Trump appointed the ex-Verizon lawyer Ajit
Pai to run the FCC, he set in motion a series of maneuvers that would
compromise broadband access for all Americans, but especially the
poorest people in the country.

From the start, Pai's misconduct was breathtaking. His blockbuster
manoeuvre was killing Net Neutrality on the basis of obviously
fraudulent, bulk-submitted comments from stolen identities and fake
email addresses.

Pai's act of neutracide has far-reaching consequences for everyone who
depends on the internet, but other Pai policies were more narrowly
targeted, raining down especially grave harms on the poorest, most
vulnerable people in the country.

The most egregious of these were Pai's attacks on Lifeline, a rural
telcoms subsidy program. Long before Pai's chairmanship, the FCC gave up
on the idea of either building state-owned wires for rural users, or
hoping that the telco monopolists would do so on their own.

Instead, they created Lifeline, which gave out billions in subsidies
meant to provide an incentive to connect rural residents, especially
remote tribal lands. Under Obama, this program was expanded to include
broadband service.

Pai - who claimed concern for the digital divide - slaughtered Lifeline.
He killed a $25/month subsidy for users on tribal land - a decision that
a court found to be totally without evidentiary support.


Pai also eliminated Lifeline's broadband subsidy, leaving the poorest
Americans with $9.25/month to help cover wireless, broadband and phone

Pai correctly noted that the telco monopolists like AT&T and Sprint had
routinely defrauded the lifeline program...

...But rather than censuring these companies or limiting their access to
Lifeline funds, Pai excluded their small, rural competitors from the
program - and then failed to implement the anti-fraud programs that
would have caught Big Telco's cheating.

As Karl Bode notes on Techdirt, Pai's tenure was "fact-optional" and
while the FCC has a long history of doling out special favors to the
industry it's supposed to be overseeing, neutering broadband access
takes on an especially grave character during a pandemic.

"42 million Americans still can't access broadband (double official FCC
estimates), and millions more can't afford service thanks to
monopolization and limited competition." -Bode

This is Pai's enduring legacy.


🕵🏻‍♀️ This day in history

#20yrsago Acme Valentine Heart Maker https://www.acme.com/heartmaker/

#15yrsago Canadian Red Cross’s dumb trademark claims are legally dubious

#15yrsago Aussie tourist charged with assault for shushing Texas movie

#10yrsago HOWTO have a D&D party for 8-year-olds

#5yrsago Ayn Rand, penis-curser

#5yrsago Austerity Robin Hood: a billionaire who takes from “scroungers”
and gives to “hardworking people”

#5yrsago Tone-deaf manager announces layoffs to 1400 Carrier Air
Conditioner workers whose jobs are moving to Mexico

#5yrsago Pathetic, smirking attention-whore Martin Shkreli does


🕵🏻‍♀️ Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 553 words (109875 total).

* A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions.
Yesterday's progress: 279 words (4826 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 30)

Upcoming appearances:

* Boskone, 58, Feb 12-15, https://boskone.org/

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22,

* Technology, Self-Determination, and the Future of the Future (Purdue
CERIAS), Feb 17,

*  Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Contemporary Political Struggle: Social
Movements, Social Surveillance, Social Media (with Zeynep Tufekci), Feb
24, https://ucdavis.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I99f4x8WRiKCfKUljVcYPg

* World Ethical Data Forum keynote, Mar 17-19,

* Interop: Self-Determination vs Dystopia (FITC), Apr 19-21,

Recent appearances:

* Chop Shop Economics

* Monocle Reads

* Hedging Bets on the Future (Motherboard Cyber):

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially,
provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link
to pluralistic.net.


Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are
included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the
basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.


🕵🏻‍♀️ How to get Pluralistic:

Blog (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Newsletter (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Mastodon (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):


Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and


Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):


"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 195 bytes
Desc: OpenPGP digital signature
URL: <http://mail.flarn.com/pipermail/plura-list/attachments/20210212/00d4e166/attachment.sig>

More information about the Plura-list mailing list