The phone companies – Baby Bells and Verizon – got a lot of press today for their announcement that they’ve agreed on a “standard” for rolling out fiber to your homes, enabling ultra-fast Internet connections.

It’s meaningless. Don’t get your hopes up. The FCC is working on the final wording of its ruling from a few months ago, relieving the companies from any requirement to open their broadband circuits to competitors. The announcement today is just a cynical ploy to influence the wording of that ruling to make it more favorable to the phone companies.

There’s no promise to actually use any such standard, no promise to actually deploy the fiber, certainly not any timetable – other than veiled references to years and years of “testing” before anything can be made available to an actual consumer.

In fact, the phone companies have very specifically denied that they intend to move forward with broadband deployment. Under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the phone companies were required to allow competitors to have access to their voice circuits and broadband circuits. In February the FCC lifted the requirement for broadband and handed the phone companies a monopoly, but it did not change the conditions for voice circuits. Since they hadn’t been given everything they wanted, the Baby Bells and Verizon petulantly announced they had no intention of rolling out new broadband services, despite their promises while they were lobbying for the new regulations.

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