Baby Bells : big on promises, short on delivery

Over the last decade, the Bell companies have received numerous financial incentives to roll out advanced networks, and in virtually all cases, the Bell companies have pocketed the money, according to New Networks Institute.

According to annual reports, state and federal filings and thousands of press statements, the Bells said that half of America would be wired by 2000 with fiber-optic services, replacing 100-year-old copper wiring, charges NetAction, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting use of the Internet for effective grassroots citizen-action campaigns.

Instead, the Bell companies did a bait-and-switch, never completing their plans and pocketing an estimated $50 billion in excess charges paid by customers, says the nonprofit. Verizon was supposed to have over 11 million households wired with fiber optics by 2000, according to NetAction, but none of those services exist today. Verizon had also promised to equip over 7 million households with ADSL by 1999, according to statements made by Bell Atlantic in 1998. Yet, at the end of 2000, Verizon had about 540,000 lines of ADSL, NetAction data shows.