The US government subsidizes the cable-kickback program, which lets companies pay for faster internet service through a government incentive program.
But it doesn’t go far enough, and the program has a serious downside: The program has been plagued by widespread corruption and is subject to an ongoing audit by the government watchdog, the Federal Communications Commission.
To get around that, companies like Comcast and AT&T are offering kickbacks of up to 100% of the cost of new customers and $50,000 per customer per year for the next five years.
The problem, however, is that many of the incentives aren’t paid out to the companies, but instead to the government.
That means the incentives may be being abused and the incentives are going to have to be reined in.
Here are four ways to find out if the cable kick-back program is being abused.
How much money does the kickbacks actually pay out?
The US Department of Justice estimates that over the next 15 years, the government will give $10 billion to cable companies.
However, that figure includes $1.8 billion in subsidies that are still unaccounted for.
According to the DOJ, the kickback payments are intended to incentivize ISPs to upgrade their networks to deliver faster service.
The US has one of the highest broadband deployment rates in the world, but that doesn’t mean the network isn’t underdeveloped.
“We’re going to invest in infrastructure to make sure that it’s up to par, to make the networks more resilient and that they’re able to deliver the services we’re expecting,” Michael Weinberg, general counsel for the FTC, told Bloomberg in June.
“And to get those networks to where they need to be, we have to have a system that’s working and that’s affordable for everybody.”
For example, Comcast has been paying about $3 billion per year to upgrade its fiber-optic network.
But the agency estimates that it has already spent about $2 billion on upgrades, and only a small portion of that has gone toward upgrading the network itself.
Comcast has said that some of the subsidies have been used to improve the network’s performance and speed, but it has also acknowledged that the program is riddled with problems.
Is there any way to track what the kick-backs actually cost?
The government doesn’t keep track of the exact amount of money it has given to the cable industry, so the government has been unable to make a more detailed estimate of the subsidy it is paying out.
“It’s not something that’s made publicly available, so we don’t know the exact dollars that have been paid out,” David Garrow, the FCC’s acting director of policy and public affairs, told Ars.
“There is a lot of concern that the amount of that money that has been paid to the industry and is still unaccounting for may be going to kickbacks.
But we are confident that we have a mechanism that allows us to look at the amounts that are being paid out, and we’re working with the industry to develop that mechanism.”
The FTC’s Garrow and the FCC have been looking at ways to make it easier to track payments and track whether the kickas are being abused, so they can make sure the subsidies are being used for the right reasons.
How do you know if the kickass is being exploited?
In order to track the exact amounts of the kick and how much is being paid to kickas, the FTC and the Federal Trade Commission have been conducting a program called the “kickback audit.”
The FCC is collecting a variety of data about kickas from various ISPs and companies to try to figure out what is being done to make them work better.
They’ve found that the incentives being paid by kickas tend to be designed to help companies boost their own profits.
For example in some cases, Comcast is paying kickas up to $5,000 a year to increase its network’s speed.
But in others, Comcast may be paying kickbacks that are more than twice that.
According, the company’s “policy is that kickbacks will be used to incentivise ISPs to invest more in upgrading their networks.”
That is to say, Comcast and other cable companies are incentivizing the company to improve its network by paying kickback sums to the kickers, in return for faster service and more money.
“The FCC has received more than 40 complaints from the public, but the FCC is unable to provide details on the amount that is being received by the kick program,” a spokesperson told Ars via email.
“This is an ongoing process and it is important to note that there are still no clear estimates of the number of kickbacks being collected by kickbacks audits.”
How can I find out how much money is being used to kick as a tool for corporate corruption?
It’s pretty easy to find that out, as Comcast has posted an audit of its own that has some of those same