Since 1991, the telecom companies have pocketed an estimated $320 billion --- that's about $3,000 per household.
This is a conservative estimate of the wide-scale plunder that includes monies garnered from hidden rate hikes, depreciation allowances, write-offs and other schemes. Ironically, in 2009, the FCC's National Broadband plan claimed it will cost about $350 billion to fully upgrade America's infrastructure.
The principal consequence of the great broadband con is not only that Americans are stuck with an inferior and overpriced communications system, but the nation's global economic competitiveness has been undermined.
This is becoming a consistent pattern in the US. Pacific Gas and Electric got a rate increase approved because they needed to make repairs on the gas lines, only they took the money and didn't make the repairs and San Bruno blew up. This is more of the same. The phone companies got a rate increase back in 1991 to pay for system upgrades to support broadband, but they took the money and made only token improvements here and there while the rest of the world surged ahead. So, broadband in the US is like our medical care; the most expensive in the world, and lagging in quality.