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The Almighty Buck

The Bells, The Bells, Only The Bells 126

"Where's the competition?" asks James Glassman of Tech Central Station. Almost five years after the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was supposed to open up competition for the "last mile," megacorporations like Verizon and SBC still have a stranglehold and their would-be competition is gasping for air. What went wrong in the local loop? And what's to come?
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The Bells, The Bells, Only The Bells

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  • And the service in general is atrocious. There are constant circuit problems which leads to modem hangups and "busy signals". The lines here are all rotting, and I repeatedly called them and demanded they fix our lines so that our phone doesn't ring whenever someone else's on the block rings. Ever pick up a phone and hear four or five conversations simultaneously at the same volume? It might as well have been a party line.

    The actual repair people are friendly, though, and they do a quick, efficient, and effective job. But that's like saying your doctor is good at keeping you struggling to survive at the last months of your life while he misdiagnosed your cancer two years ago. Those lines should have been dug up and replaced a decade ago; this is a coastal area exposed to constant salty ground water and Version thinks lines will still last 25 years. Hahaha!

    DSL? Ha! They cram that advertising down your throat on every channel but they don't offer it here...or in neighboring towns. Verision just gives you that "within the next six months" response if you ask them about it.

    On top of that, "short distance" calling is something like 20 cents a minute! Thank God we're allowed to get that service cheaper from AT&T now. I wish there was competition at the local level; I don't know many, if anybody, who are impressed with Verison. I hear complaints from people who lease T-lines from them on the level of, "Man, it took Verison two weeks to fix our T-1." Hardly what I would call a "dedicated" service.
  • [Disclaimer, I am a Sprint Employee]

    Sprint has a couple advantages over the typical companies trying to get into the local loop. First, they're huge. Secondly, they have the ability to tell the local loop owners "Either open up your loop for us or we'll distribute wireless broadband modems and leverage our PCS network to put your ass completely out of business. We'd rather not take the bloody nose in extra costs it would take to implement this suggestion, but we will if you don't share. So play nice, K? Thks." That having been said, Sprint ION is a bundled service, local, long distance, and data over one line. I'm not sure, but I think the local is still handed off to the local telco and Sprint pays a access fee to run DSL over their lines like everyone else does but it works out as a better deal for both parties in the bundle. They're in quite a few cities, and expecting more soon.

  • Ultimately, this is the wave of the future (as are some more unique cliches, I hope). The singular problematic factor in competition, I think, is the physical medium. From my experiences, from more of a consumer perspective, phycical mediums are expensive, because not only do they entail some form of labor, they also impose quite a few restrictions.

    This even supports my idea that everyone is lazy. We're trying to get rid of something which requires too much time, and too much money, and too much effort, in order to reach a vast audience (and thereby increasing profit, of course).

  • I know of an ISP who has already bought $ 3/4 million or so in switch hardware, trying to become a CLEC. They budgeted twice that for lawyers. It's been over a year now and they're still saying "coming soon" whilst letting their ISP business slide.

    The Bells know that competition spells doom for them; they are not structured to handle it and are fighting for their very existance. As I told my ISP rep the other day, while discussing their plans to enter the phone business: The [local Bell] would have had ya'll shot already if they thought they could get away with it. Their fight hasn't got really nasty yet, so it might still be an option in the [local Bell]'s playbook.

  • It is impossible to get the same bandwidth out of a wireless device than a comparable wired one while keeping the costs down.
  • by Mtgman ( 195502 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @02:20PM (#571338)
    [Disclaimer, I am a Sprint employee]

    I don't know. That's standard practice among most wireless providers and I wouldn't be suprised if Sprint would lease bandwidth to other companies, but if they don't I'd suspect it's due to incompatibilities more than stuffiness. Remember, PCS is a different technology than traditional wireless or even digital wireless. It may not be possible. I'm not privy to all that, but I do know from some recent meetings on Sprint's strategic goals for the near future that they intend to use wireless towers to get beyond the "last mile" problem.

  • Wireless cannot compete with wired bandwidth.

    That's pretty short sighted. If landline telecos continue to be slow(administratively) and inflexible, then wireless will murder them when bandwidth increases. To think that wireless won't improve is stupid.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @02:21PM (#571340) Homepage Journal
    Where's the evidence that it's due to deregulation? In fact, where's the evidence that the industry was even deregulated to begin with? The fact was that it was not deregulated. It was only opened up for potential competition. The PUC is still firmly in place. The monopoly rights of the utilities was taken away, the regulation was not.

    There are many problems with the current power "shortage". But I don't see any of these problems arising from too many power providers. Quite the opposite. There are too few providers and even fewer producers. The California population keeps on growing while the power produced keeps on shrinking. It's next to impossible to get government (read 'regulated') approval to create a new power plant. In the meantime the older plants are starting to fall apart. The industry wants to build a huge plant in San Jose but politics is stopping it. They also want to create dozens of mini plants but they can't do that either. We really need nuclear plants to avoid the pollution of gas/coal plants, but even suggesting it is political suicide here.

    The potential competitors of PG&E and Edison would have to be nuts to enter the California market. Which is why the only alternatives you see are resellers of out-of-state surplus (as if they would have any in the middle of winter) and tiny environmental producers like wind or solar. Power production needs a huge economy of scale backed by an army of lawyers. What we really need is inexpensive point production, like microplants or personal fuel cells.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @02:22PM (#571341)
    The only thing deregulation enables is for people to resell the existing services. It doesn't create any incentive to build new infrastructure, that's not what they teach in business schools these days. They teach how to make money without actually owning anything resembling "old economy" capital.

    Hence, there's scores of "new" telco companies that don't have any capital (leased lines and switching from the telco), any facilities (see above), any personnel ("fixing" is part of the lease), or anything else there. They're all virtual businesses whose only means of support is consumers too dumb to realize they can buy the same services from the "old" phone company for less.

    Until the FCC makes great strides in making last-mile infrastructure development a desirable business (or Stanford, Harvard, and MIT B-schools decide that the old economy is "in" again), we won't see anything revolutionary in fix-wire telecomms for a long time to come.
  • We're getting so fucked by Verizon.

    We're trying to offer ADSL which Verizon also offers. Verizon provides us with ADSL as part of a deal with the FTC. Verizon sells ADSL to the userbase with free installation, free equipment, and a low rate (close to $50).

    Verizon sells ADSL to us for almost that same rate when it comes down to each user. We in turn have to charge a higher rate and must also eat the costs of installation and setup to try to even come close to staying competitive.

    In turn, Verizon fucks up billing constantly (bills us for people who aren't our own customers), provides a crappy as hell service (ie, goes out for days at a time with no warning -- we've resorted to making dialup accounts part of the package). When the service goes down, users call US. Our answer is always "Verizon has it's fingers stuck in it's ass and we have to wait for them to unfuck themselves. Sorry but there's nothing we can do at all."

    Many DSL providers have folded in the NYC area. Verizon gives the illusion that they're letting competitors onto their network, but it's so expensive that we can't compete with what they are selling directly to the potential userbase.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Which is why that regulation is there in the first place, to keep corporate scum from picking off the plum markets in the cities and leaving rural and second tier town cities with bupkus. Providing service to all tiers in a region should be a condition of being allowed to compete--complete deregulation would result in zero costs for big bu$$ine$$ and infinite costs for Joe Consumer.


  • Cell phones have been stunted in the US for years because everyone here has a case of Microsoft-envy. They all want to set and own standards, and use them to lock out the comptetition.

    So far nobody has been able to set a clear standard and accomplish this, and nobody is willing to deploy the future without having a lock-in. Therefore we're still waiting for what Europe has had for years.

    There has been quite a bit of talk about end-to-end on Slashdot, recently. The Internet only happened the way it did BECAUSE IT WAS NOT DONE BY FOR-PROFIT INSTITUTIONS. Had the Internet been done for-profit originally, it would not be end-to-end. It would probably resemble The Source, or the old Compuserve, the old Prodigy, or the old AOL. The ones of those who didn't adapt to the Internet aren't with us, any more. This is the same phenomena at work as with wireless, and even high-speed wired communications. Beyond that, those same forces are at work trying to undermine the open end-to-end Internet we have, today.

    We have some corporations in us and other places that don't understand the free market,
    The free market really isn't the solution to all the world's problems. Perhaps the free market is really like a big hammer, looking at the world like a bunch of nails. But then, we really don't want more government, either...
  • I didn't say wireless won't improve. Competition from both ends says wireless capacity will improve just as wired capacity will improve... but by it's very nature, currently at least, wired capacity is just an order of magnitude greater than wireless, unless some developments are occuring/have occurred that I am unaware of.

    Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]
  • What exactly do you mean 'for your regular mail'? You can't force your phone company, your bank, etc to send you your mail through FedEx. They simply won't bother. Nothing to do with the law. Maybe I am misunderstanding what you meant.

    There is a federal law about FedEx or UPS using your mailbox to deliver anything to you.
  • My parents ( and where I grew up) have used the local independently owned telephone company since before I was born ('73). Sunman Telephone Company (www.nalu.net) has local calls (we used to have a party line when I was in grade school!), long distance, cellular, internet acces, and cable. They have also just begun offering DSL although I haven't been able to convince my dad to get it. So not everyone has to deal with the baby bells. Of course Sunman has a local monopoly over mass media service, but what are you gonna do?
  • by isdnip ( 49656 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @05:31PM (#571348)
    Well no, AT&T's right and you're wrong, but it's not entirely obvious why, so I'll explain.

    The ILECs (incumbent telcos) used to have a legally-sanctioned monopoly on phone service. Cable companies did only broadcast TV. The cable companies generally did NOT have legal monopolies, but it's economically hard for a second cable operator to enter a town that already has one. RCN, Knology and a few others are trying.

    Now, cable companies are allowed to enter the phone and cable-modem businesses. But in those fields, they are the *second* provider, the competitor, since the ILEC had the wire first and had it on a monopoly basis. The rule in this country is that competitive entrants can charge whatever they please, because they're not monopolies -- they're challenging them and need to establish a business model.

    So when a cable company provides ISP service over its plant, it is acting purely as a new competitor -- five years ago, only the phone company was there. If you change the rules and regulate the cable companies' provision of ISP service, then you're a) entering the scary domain of regulating ISPs, and/or b) applying rate regulation to a competitive new entrant, which in so doing dries up capital for new entrants faster than an Arizona summer day.

    The cable companies should learn that the ISPs are their friends, and they should be competing with the phone companies for the wire business. They've not figured it all out yet, but AT&T is going down that road. They are not going to renew existing exclusivity deals with @Home. Regulating it, hwoever, is the ILECs trick for keeping the cable companies to the TV business and out of their hair. Legally, DSL providers (LECs) are regulated common carriers open to all ISPs at a posted price; cable companies are not common carriers.
  • Well, no. Competitors are startups, and they have to pick potentially-profitable businesses. As it stands, few CLECs break even, so if you required CLECs to go everywhere at once, they'd
    a) need infinite capital to start,
    b) have no chance at making a profit,
    c) removing their access to capital.

    There are specialist CLECs focusing on smaller towns. But they were not the first ones out there, and it'll take a while before the boonies get competition. The big telcos generally charge CLECs more for access to wires in non-urban areas, too, which doesn't help.
  • The small power companies do alright because they a essencially brokers, they buy large lots of electricty from the larger power companies at a group discount, and pass the savings onto the consumer. All the switching and connectivity is leased from the larger power co. With local phone service it's different. You can lease the lines from the larger tel co, but you have to provide all your own switching. Local tel co service doesn't pay for itself, it has to be subsidized by long distance service, or you have to have a large infrastructure already in place. This is why you see very little improvement in local phone service. This is essencially what was behind the ATT break up and deregulation. By divorcing themselves from the local tel co.s and local service, ATT was able to compete with the upstart long distance services such as Sprint and MCI. We in LA are lucky enough that ATT completely modernized and upgrade our phone system before the break up.
  • Ok....here comes a flame. Moderate it down if you wish...I don't care.

    Deregulation does NOT guarantee that every Tom, Dick, and Jackass with 2 coins to rub together gets to be their own phone company. Deregulation does not guarantee that you get to be successful as a CLEC just because you have a couple million (or even a couple hundred million) dollars. (period, that is all) If your business plan sucks, or your execution on said business plan sucks, you do not get to be successfull. (Let me point out at this time that ANY business plan that contends to make a profit on providing residential voice service SUCKS!!! Residential voice as a stand alone service is a LOSING proposition. You should thank your local RBOC/Bell/Monopoly for losing money on it for you.)

    That said some business models are successful. Some people can make money competing in what was formerly Bell space, and yes, some of those companies even include residential voice, but they do not expect to generate enough revenue based on that service to support the company....sucessful companies us profitable services to support the company.

    Now as for ISP's, there are presently several dozen proven methods of providing internet access (even shitty internet access, look at AOL). Pick one and give it a try, other people have been successful, you can to, if you are smart about it. Some of these methods don't even require you to interact with the Bells, cable, satellite, etc. If none of these suit your particular tastes, come up with something new, shit even if it is stupid and obvious you can still patent it, and make money off of licensing.

    As to the person who penned this awful article, I will refrain from personal comments about him, because it is possible that he is a nice, thoughtful person. BUT (you knew that was coming, didn't you), competition is all about sticking it out and out-thinking/maneuvering/servicing your competitor, NO LAW ENSURES YOU CAN DO THIS. People need to get over the 'I deserve' mentality, no one deserves to be wildly successful at being a phone company, or anything else unless they:

    1. work hard at it
    2. do it smartly
    3. do it EFFECTIVELY

    Just for the record, the author's poster child for 'Bell Abuse' (Northpoint) was at best an ineffective, difficult to work with, disorganized, fuster-cluck of ineptitude. They will fail unless they get their shit together, and they deserve to if they don't get their shit together.

    Thank You...You may now return to regularly scheduled lives, already in progress.
  • Not here. Most of the states are rural areas, and cell technology is just not up to par. I work tech support in a city with a population of 10,000. The next closest city is about 40miles away, so we have a lot of rural customers in the area. I positively HATE when one of those customers tries to call me from a cell phone. I can barely understand what they are saying, and half the time I just hang up. And what about bandwidth? How can we expect wireless bandwidth get good enough for data if it can't even balnket the country with decent voice?

  • I have a similar problem. If I knew where to put the screw driver, I would do that. Are there any web sites telling me how to do the Bell Atlantic part myself. I know where the Telco cupboard is - what else do I need?
    iconnor ignore this then add @spamcop.net to email.
  • Jesus, what kind of drugs are YOU on???
    Your opinion that drug dealers do not harm anyone is incorrect- people who could have been productive are ruined through exploitation of their weakness. They provide a temporary illusary benefit to the user, while destroying the users potential. If you create an addict and do not believe you are evil, you are a fool or a liar.
    or (come on, you know you want to say it) a LIBERAL!

    Anyway, not all drug use is abuse and not all drugs are addictive...
    True, a person who uses nicotene or other drugs is aware of the health risk, but the nature of the substance prevents them from attempting to quit.
    Sounds like nicotine is addictive...
    Using a persons desire for your own benefit, with no regard for their life, is evil and produces more evil. This is what a drug dealer does.
    And that is what Madison Avenue does. That is what Hollywood does.
    Drugs create an illusion of a perfect life
    So does television. So do movies
    Reign in Hell.. Serve in heaven...
    Repeat after me: There is no God. There is no Heaven. There is no Hell.

    Apparently you are too stupid to realize that religion is a drug -- "the opiate of the masses" as Karl Marx put it.
    Just think before you write or speak, because thought is either a cure or a disease, and is spread by every single word you write or speak.
    You obviously didn't take your own advice. After spewing your ignorant drivel that much is evident.

    Can you prove your assertion that drug dealers are the root of all evil? Do you have facts? Statistics? Something? Anything?

    You are a white guy, right? This is a dead giveaway:
    I recently talked to a friend of mine who grew up in north Philly. When he was a kid in the ghetto, the people he looked up to were the dealer's.
    I am Chicano. I live in a barrio. I have personal experience of which you speak and all I can say is that you are so full of shit it is leaking out your ears!

    The biggest problem is not drugs, it is poverty. Lack of jobs. Lack of educational opportunities. That is what is hurting minorities, not drugs.

    Also, racial profiling by the cops:
    Table 1. Chances of going to State or Federal prison for the first time, [usdoj.gov]
    by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin


    *Excludes persons of Hispanic origin.
    The overzealous enforcement of drug laws hurts minorities more than the drugs themselves. I used to live in a hotel next to the University of Houston that had lots of criminal activity. I actually got hassled less by the whores and crack dealers than by the fricking cops. I'd get stopped and they'd want to search me but I'd refuse because I know about abstract legal concepts like "articulable suspicion" and "curtilage". Needless to say the cops NEVER looked in my bag, no matter how badly they wanted to. I actually dared them to look, and told them that I'd go to Internal Affairs and drop a dime on them. Can you say "pissed-off pigs"?

    Minorities are not taught about probable cause and that you can say no to a police officer when they ask to search you, your home or your car.The problem is that when minorities assert their constitutional rights, they will get beat down or even killed by "the man" unless they are lucky enough to have light-colored skin.

    Sometimes you don't even have to do anything to get killed by the cops. Witness Pedro Oregon, a Mexican laborer who lived in Houston, who was shot 12 times, 9 times in the back [mapinc.org] by HPD after busting down the door in a botched drug raid on the word of a sleazy confidential informant, who pointed the finger at Pedro's brother in an attempt to get out of his own drug charges. No drugs were found and the only punishment the cops got was getting fired from HPD. (Interestingly, the right-wing Cato Institute thought it was an abuse of police power [cato.org] too.)

    The "War on Some Drugs" was created by White people as a way to control minorities. How else can you explain the fact that most people in jail for drug offenses are minorities? How else can you explain the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine? Crack is mainly used by minorities, so what other reason does it has a harsher penalty than the equivalent weight of powder cocaine used by Whites than racism?

    Everyone has the right to an opinion, even you. When you pontificate, state that it is an opinion based on your limited understanding of things and we will let you slide. However, if you try to state unsubstantiated opinion as fact, you will get slapped down by those of us who know what we are talking about and are willing to provide supporting information...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • My prediction: Next year, SBC will have the WORST customer service and MOST fsckups of any of the local carriers. Period.
    Shoot, people here in Texas already know that for a fact...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • I don't get it - it seems like it would be pretty simple to sign up for phone service for a short period of time, long enough to get a bank account or loan.

    Such an address is going to be just as valid as the address you give when you're getting a mobile phone...
  • I use SprintPCS, and it s a good wireless mobile service, especially if you like flat rate pricing and no roaming (where Sprint has their own digital network). But the current Sprint wireless network will not replace wireline: Too little aggregate bandwith to the customer, different economics of mobility, etc. It might be able to compete with consumer phone service, but not DSL or CATV-based voice/data offerings.

    Which is why Sprint is also doing ION, a DSL-based converged access product. In theory Sprint has the clout and lawyers to make ILECs come up with the local loops (unbundled network elements, or UNEs) and has the switches and backbone in place (does Sprint use their MSCs' switches for ION?) to provide lots of customers with a decent alternative. In theory, the economics of convergence (data + multiple phone lines) makes it attractive enough to rent local loops from the ILEC.

  • The Sprint ION services run over DSL, and are starting wide rollouts in all major metropolitan cities.

    While Sprint may not be a small local player aiming for some local loop action, they never the less rely on the ability to tap the local loop of the big behemoths to implement ION for customers.

    There are also handfulls of third party DSL providers in most large cities, which are in the same boat.

    Anyway, the article seemed a bit overboard on its interpretation of what is occuring...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think you have your terms confused:

    CD stands for Certificate of Deposit. You will need to fill out one of these before you can donate sperm. A "CD Drive" is usually a week-long promotion put on by the sperm bank. They normally give away things like keychains or toasters depending on how much you actually deposit.

    CD-ROM stand for Christ's Death-Romans Own Man (posessive 'own'). and was a slogan that was graffitti'd throughout the streets of Jerasalem following the crucifixion.


  • Yeah, I've heard about that one, from someone who's been there and seen it.

    From what I understand, California can't use the same system, or use it as efficiently due to the geography.
  • by Mtgman ( 195502 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:56PM (#571361)
    [disclaimer, I am an employee of Sprint]

    The article basically says that since the Baby Bells (SBC and Verizon) own the physical "last mile" lines, they are keeping a stranglehold on the possibilities of competition for local service. These companies are still getting to enter the long-distance service buisness, which they weren't supposed to do until they opened up their lines to competitors, by sucking up to politicians.

    How is Sprint facing this? Wireless. Screw the physical infrastructure of the last-mile lines. Sprint basically gave the baby Bells the finger and started building digital wireless towers everywhere they can. Pretty soon you'll be able to buy a wireless broadband modem and hit a PCS tower with a digital signal without touching a bit of Bell property. Since the wires are all owned by someone who won't share and has no interest in letting Sprint in, Sprint is doing what has been proven to work in markets where the physical infrastructure doesn't exist. Make it wireless.

  • They have a pretty big presence where I live, actually (Olympia, WA). I've thought about getting my DSL from them, now that they've bought out the biggest local ISP, but I haven't got around to it. I haven't heard anything bad about them, though.

    On another note, though, I'm reminded of a quote that I heard once:
    "We don't care.
    We don't have to.
    We're the phone company."

  • by Apotsy ( 84148 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:59PM (#571363)
    The telecommunications act was passed under rhetoric of "increasing competition", which was a total lie, but unfortunately, it's what companies say about pretty much any legislation they are trying to get passed these days.

    Just look at what happened in San Francisco. AT&T actually said that not allowing open access to their cable lines would increase competition, while allowing it would decrease competition. That's completely backwards, and they knew it, too! But that didn't matter, the local government listened to them, and ruled against open-access, allowing SF cable telecommunications to become an AT&T-owned monopoly.

    The word "competition" has been hijacked by lobbyists, and is now used to refer to situations where the exact opposite of a competitive market exists. Too bad most of the public hasn't caught on yet. They still believe it when corporate lackeys tell them passing a law that allows a single company to buy up every radio station in sight will somehow "increase competition". Ugh.

  • The Sprint ION services run over DSL, and are starting wide rollouts in all major metropolitan cities

    While this looks cool, have you contacted them about installing this on a Linux/*BSD/unixen system? They claim to have a propreitary billing program that does not on anything but Windows or Macs, and you can't get service without it. This is what they told me when I inquired about it about a month ago.
  • Sooner or later, companies are going to learn (at least acknowledge the fact, if they've already learned) that some people just don't like a certain product and/or company for reasons beyond that company's control. When this happens, things will get a little (and I do mean little) better. Let's not forget free enterprise. Free enterprise actually has a definition, and a very valid one that needs not changing at this point in time. That definition, however, is often lost among the likes of Microsoft, and other large monopolistic companies.

    The act is in place, and when we're ready for it, I think we'll be glad that it was in place, now, because there'll be a bit less bickering about it, and we will have had more time to peice the puzzle together and smooth it out, and refine it.

    It is my belief, and has been for as long as I can remember (but that doesn't really say much), that things are done, whether we know it or not, in a very specific pattern. This probably stems from my religious background, and I'm sure I'll get flamed for this sometime or another, but the further humanity goes into the unknown called the future, things begin to make more and more sense.

    In short, the act is in place, and we are making use of it whether we can see the results or not.

  • No way in Hell will I ever go mobile! I've seen what happens to people who buy a mobile phone, they are just buying a mobile leash. Not only can EVERYONE get your number (your Boss, your friend, advertisers, etc) but you are always near your phone and have to make excuses if you don't pick it up.

    But maybe thats just me, someone had to twist my arm to get me to buy a digital phone, give me my rotary phone any day! (I'll be the only person who actually deals with another human instead of punching through endless menus ;-))

    Capt. Ron

  • The usual standoffs between the RBOC/ILEC and the CLEC are:

    1. Who pays for the filter removal? Requires a truck roll and some sleuthing to remove them amongst the thousands of wire strands.

    2. DMZ at the central office. Often cooperation is poor at the central office when CLEC installs the DSLAM into a locked/caged room.

    3. Troubleshooting. CLEC technician often has to seek permission (and frequently do not get them) to perform wire-fault tracing which often requires wandering around the central office premises.

    4. Mini-sabatoge. A stretch of a reach. But accidential sabatoge (tripping over wires, crossovers, disconnects) do occur. Blame games starts and often poisons relation between central office administration and the CLEC technicians.

    5. Who pays who. This is still an uncharted territory. This is the primary reason Covad teamed up with Southwestern Bell (SBC) is to secure valuable cooperation (as well as funding).

    6. Lack of governmental regulation regarding conducts in the DMZ.

    Sorry. But CLEC is in a tough bind. However, I am optimistic that various DSL industry segment is going to pressure RBOC/ILEC to owe up in the best interest of more equipment sales for all of us DSL insdustry.
  • Since you do work for Sprint - does Sprint have any plans to make these 'wireless towers' connections available to other companies that want to compete with Sprint?

    I don't work for Sprint, but it's *very* unlikely that Sprint will allow other to use their "wireless towers" (or Radio Base Stations as they are more commonly known) Sprint (along with several other companies) paid lots of money a few years ago to purchase the rights to 5 or 15MHz of bandwidth in the PCS range.

    They could rent out/loan the bandwidth that they purchased to others to use. It's not very likely, though, because current 2G CDMA standards for data transfer can use up to 8 CDMA "Channels" (very different from GSM channel...and I don't think 8 channel useage has ever been implemented for data connections), and in a Wireless Local Loop setup, Radio Base Stations can handle about 35-40 "channels" (IIRC) per sector depending on enviromental conditions, so in populated areas, Sprint will need all of the bandwith they can get!
  • Did you know that they have retired a huge number of people in the Ameritech region, and are laying off an additionally large number? They are driving toward double digit profitability growth this year, and doing it by cutting expenses.

    Just how good of service do you think that you will have when the shit really hits the fan? The project I am on has been gutted, even though it is an initiative with a very high priority and protected status.

    My prediction: Next year, SBC will have the WORST customer service and MOST fsckups of any of the local carriers. Period.
  • On the other hand, it's a lot easier to just build another tower than it is to dig up hundreds of miles of city roads to lay new land lines. The tricky part is the wireless spectrum licenses...

  • Just last week I tried to escape the awful grasp of Verizon as my local phone company and ordered ATT local service. Went through the whole process only to find out two days later that I couldn't switch to ATT if I wanted to keep my Verizon DSL. Couldn't even transfer over the line w/o the DSL. WTF? Now I'm stuck with a local phone company I hate that just doubled my bill. They don't even have a nice logo for christs sake, at least Bell Atlantic had a nice logo and I got Darth Vader every time I called 411, you'd think they'd be smart enough to keep james Earl Jones as a spokesman but no... NYNEX logo was even better and New York Telephones better still so I'm sensing a trend here.
  • and for those who don't know BellSouth is *huge* in many emerging markets. they pretty much dominate southern central american and all of south america (in wireless) which is an exploding economy region. i fully expect bellsouth to end up being one of the worlds largest communications companies in 10-15 years.
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @03:07PM (#571373) Homepage
    But it is time to consider whether or not it would be smart to have the government provide internet service to the home,...

    Okay. I'll consider.
    Okay, I'm done considering now.

    The problem, as I see it, is that if Government Inc. is giving you the line, they also have the right to tell you what you can put on it (either in terms or hardware or the types of data), perhaps look at the data any time they want, and, unlike other large corporations, they've got people with guns to enforce their will.

    Do we really want the same corporation that gave us the DMCA providing us with our internet access? How long before the lines had to be monitored to "Protect The Children®"?

    (I may be wrong about this, but as I recall, the US Post Office has more of a monopoly than some may realize - I believe it's literally illegal to use a private courier [e.g. UPS or Federal Express] for your regular mail! Do we even want to risk any chance of this happening to ISP's?)

    A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for Evil.
  • >I don't have a landline. I don't need one. I don't talk on the phone enough to warrant paying an extra $20-30/month for a landline.
    >Unfortunately, I can't get DSL as a result.

    Actually dude, according to Telocity, at least, you don't need to have a local carrier for DSL service. You need the copper, but not the service. I was having major problems with my DSL in May-June (which was SBC/Ameritech's fsckup, of course) and it wasn't until I threatened to cancel my _local_ service that they (Ameritech) turned around and fixed the problem.

    Check into it with the DSL provider's in your area, you might be surprised.
  • I'm affilated with a small, local ISP (South Valley Internet [garlic.com]), and I can speak from personal experience on this. SVI has approximately 6000 customers in the Southern Santa Clara County, and has DSL agreements with GTE(Verizon), Covad, and NorthPoint. SVI also has an agreement with PacBell for DSL -- but unlike the others, PacBell charges SVI the same cost for the line as a regular consumer can get it for. There is NO wholesale price with PacBell DSL... as a result, what's the customer's incentive to go with SVI for a DSL provider? SVI is going to have to markup the line somewhat to turn a profit on that service, and they'll always be higher than PacBell, with no prospect of being competitive.

    I had understood that deregulation was supposed to allow the smaller companies a chance to be competitive. Like the article says, though -- looks like your only choice soon will be the Bells.

  • Please tell me that your not a 27 year old still living with their parents without atleast a good reason.
  • Just wanted to add a note about a new book I'm reading by Thomas Frank, editor of _The Baffler_. It's called _One Market Under God_. The book opens with a preface about the telecommunications act. Frank shows how the act, which essentially sold the airwaves to private interests, signalled a trend of anti-democratic practices which were and are now championed by the masses. Kind-of like successive mergers shouldn't really surprise us b/c the idea of providing "pro-democratic" or populist services belongs more to marketing than to design. And this marketing is pervasive! The book is kind-of an early history of nineties democracy/globalization/dotcom era, well-written. ghostoroy who lives suspiciously close to Mr. Frank
  • Lots of power companies have sprung up, many cheaper than the standard ones, many completely based on environmentally friendly power. Still, lots of people stick with the old big one because they don't trust these littler companies in case something goes wrong.

    That price, many times, is lower because the market is still regulated. The government sets prices so that people will move to the new service provider to create a division in the market. The larger companies are forbiden to lower their prices, and might actually have to raise them.

    You should know that most "environmentally friendly" electricity is some of the most expensive juice around. Take wind power. Those fancy fans cost a fortune to make, service and distribute. Oh yeah, the wind moslty blows at low demand periods of the day and year, "Ah, what a wonderful breeze is blowing today. I won't have to run my air conditioner!". These costs have an environmental impact, assides from generating wind currents that eagles can't escape, because they require more activity to support. Think of all the energy that goes into composites manufacure and all of the waste that comes out of it. Think of all the nasty stuff that goes into silicon solar cells.

    Electricity deregulation is madness. But hey, I work for an generating company now, so don't listen to me. My company is going to get fat when it's free to charge what it likes. Sing along, "I'm in the money, your stinking money, the good old times are just starting to roll!"

  • I have been happy with Working Assets for some time, but you never know when you are going to have a run-in with some long distance carrier you don't even do business with.

    To point, yesterday I recieved my telephone bill with a $3.39 collect call charge on it from ATT. A collect call was refused (by my wife--wrong number) during the month, but apparently the automated system connected it anyway.

    Do you think ATT (supposedly famous for their customer service) would fix this charge? Not a chance. I don't know how their phone service is, but I'll tell you, if you aren't their customer, they are stubborn as bulldogs.

    I can think of no other business that can operate like this. You think Walmart is crooked, you don't walk into their store, and that's that. But even if you don't do business with them, ATT can call you at home, have you refuse their service, and they charge you anyway. I haven't been this offended by a company in a long time.

    I'd sure like to talk to an ATT tech. Obviously they could use my wife's voice in the pattern recognition software. The customer service people seem to believe that the automated collect call software never makes a mistake. And if they make $3.39 every time it goofs, I don't see them changing their mind on this any time soon.
  • they keep the prices rather low but with the whole qwest thing we technically have only one phone service.

    click here and read interesting things [angelfire.com]
  • Are you saying that because ATT provides ISP over cable as competition to local phone that they should be the only company to offer ISP over cable? Does this mean that SF should charge such a rate for it's cable franchise that no one can enter but a giant like ATT? Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Clinton administration?

    I'm not happy to know that two less regulated former Bell companies will be my only providers of cable and phone. I'd much rather see more than one cable company, and more than one set of wires competing with wirless and local phone service. The more the merrier.

    Don't give me that "not economically feasible" bunk about the market not being able to support more than one provider. The market was unable to support the first company!

  • I live in an area where there is some real competition. In the Omaha, Nebraska area Cox Cable began laying fiber like crazy 5 years ago and is now taking a lot of residential customers away from Qwest (formerly US Worst). Cox is beating Qwest on both price and service.

    At work we had a fiber loop laid around the office park by a company called TCG (now swallowed by AT&T and called AT&T local.) They also have kicked Qwest's ass on price and service. When I call AT&TL's service center they actually try and resolve the problem instead of telling me they'll get to it by 5 pm tommorrow. What a concept!

    Because they were able to finance construction of their own lines, both of these companies have been much less dependent on and susceptible to interference from Qwest. The big Q did try a few dirty tricks. Until the FCC allowed numbers to transfer between companies, Qwest told Cox what prefixes they could have. They would only give Cox 991-xxxx until the local emergency services center began complaining about the misdials.

    I have Cox cable modem service, I live too far from the CO for Qwest DSL. I've had my cable modem for six months. Qwest might get my neighborhood set up for DSL next summer... I wish the success we had here was more widespread. SBC and Verizon sound like carbon copies of US Worst.

  • What went wrong is that the phone companies are used to making allot of money. At the expense of customer satisfaction and quality they try to squeeze out dimes here and there.

    God forbid you ever have to deal with two phone companies at once (as I did once). I waited till 4 am (they were supposed to be there at 10pm) only to have an AT&T rep tell me that the job was done, despite not having a connection yet. I was told that US Worst would need to come out and punch down the last portion of it. So being new to all this I ended up punching it down myself with a puny screwdriver (untill I ran out of vodka that is). It all worked fine but boy did I catch hell from US Worst for touching their lines.

  • Having worked for an ISP that uses a CLEC and shuns the ILEC I know one reason people haven't switched...

    The ILECs might have to allow access to last-mile, but they don't have to make that access easy to get or easy to work with.

    Example: We use PRI from a CLEC for our dial-up. We keep the ILEC (Ameriheck here) out of our business. I get about 2 - 3 calls a month from customers who suddenly are a long distance call from our numbers.

    Everytime this happens it's because Ameritech has made changes in their switch. It's never been our CLEC's fault.

    The problem is that Ameritech will NOT speak to us on our customer's behalf, and they will not speak to us on our CLEC's behalf. So to get any resolution and get Ameritech to fix their problem we have to do the following:

    1. Get the Ameritech customer on the phone. 2. Get our support rep at our CLEC on the phone. 3. Get our CLEC's tech guy on the phone. 4. Get Ameritech on the phone. 5. Try to convince them they have a problem.

    If everything goes smoothly it will get fixed in a couple of days. That means that all my customers in the 482-xxxx exchange might not be able to access their Internet access without having to pay long distance chanrges during this time.

    Who do you think catches hell from the customer when this happens?! This happens to us at least once and month (and often more)! I have had customers ask me why we just didn't use Ameritech so we don't have these problems...

    So much for competition huh?

  • by karzan ( 132637 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:36PM (#571385)
    Around here I think it's mainly a question of trust. Here in California, they recently deregulated the power companies so that independent power companies could exist. Lots of power companies have sprung up, many cheaper than the standard ones, many completely based on environmentally friendly power. Still, lots of people stick with the old big one because they don't trust these littler companies in case something goes wrong.

    I think it's the same with phone companies. People don't want the hassle of having to deal with some tiny local company run by a couple of college students that could go out of business in a week and where the maintenance and support are questionable. They know and trust the companies that are already around. The vast majority of people are going to stick with the big, old companies purely out of trust issues, IMO.

  • No, I said that because AT&T provides ISP service over cable, they should be allowed to be the only company offering ISP service *over their own cable*, if they're so foolish as to exclude other ISPs. (They're currently under a contractual obligation to exclude all but @Home.)

    If you were an ISP and pulled your own cable, or stuck up your own spread-spectrum radios, would you want other ISPs to have access to it at state-set rates? Would you want the state to set your rates?

    The Forced Access movement is orchestrated by the (ILEC) telcos as a way to distract users from the telcos own failure to meet their own legal obligations.
  • It ain't due to people sticking with companies they "know and trust" -- it's because there's no real choice. Here in the Tampa Bay area (Verizon country! [verizonreallysucks.com]) the only alternative local phone services are aimed at people who Verizon won't serve, and charge ridiculous rates besides. They're for people who bank at check-cashing places.

    Not only that, but Verizon never delivered my friggin' phone books for this year! Bastards!

  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:37PM (#571388) Homepage Journal
    The american dream is a 'dream' because it is so incredibly difficult to attain. We live in a capital economy which eventually is dominated by super-large corporations. When you start a small company, you are swimming with sharks, and if they sense that you -may- become a threat, you are bought or eliminated. Simple as that. Its the economy we live in.

  • Don't know much about how cellular networks are put together, do ya?
  • Hey, that's great news. Glad to hear that Sprint is taking the initiative in these great wireless towers. That way, when I'm talking on my super-futuristic e-phone, I can get screwed by the same long distance company that managed to regularly screw up even my simple LD bills!

  • In a few cities on the west coast there is a company called ATG that offers non-pacbell local service (over pacbell lines, of course). They do DSL a lot faster than pacbell, but other than that they are pretty simmilar in terms of service. http://www.callatg.com/ is their website. Poor fuckers got beat to atg.com...
  • Sorry about the stupid remark. But I think that because people are so sick of dealing telcos that if wireless is even an option in terms of proce/performance, then people will switch. Wireless doesn't need to be as fast because people will use it just to get away from the Telcos. At any rate it is good that there is more competition for data delivery.
  • by dogkow ( 210471 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:40PM (#571393) Homepage
    "Where's the competition?"

    Here in Minnesota, I now get my telephone services through AT&T (formally MediaOne). It comes over my cable line, and it is a good deal compared to what I was paying UFWest (now Qwest).

    I don't know if they're rolling out service in many other areas, but I am pleased with the quality, and it certainly is giving Qwest some competition.

    My only gripe is that once again my local telephone service is being provided by Bell. How long until they get a monopoly on local service again and need be broken up?

  • do you? SBC offers me good service...reasonable cost, what would competition offer me?

  • (come on, you know you want to say it) a LIBERAL!

    Liberals spend most of their time attempting to fix problems in society. Conservatives spend most of their time preventing problems from being fixed. Liberal means tolerant of the ideas and behaviors of others. Tolerance of someones desire to use another person for their own benefit- well they only ruin that persons and the life of those in their community, so I guess its allright ot deal drugs, in a broad minded sorta way (I mean, pain and poverty are all relative right?- who cares if a major portion of your community(Barrio) is addicted to drugs. It's not their fault, it is because they were not born into a rich family! They have to deal drugs to get to the top- no matter what!!! The drugs are just a way of using other peoples lives to get a step up into the better world!!

    Poverty in the barrio is maintained by lack of education, by people selling drugs instead of creating products that will bring money into the barrio so the barrio cannot afford to increase the quality of its schools. IF leaders in the community would work together to create better lives for those who come after them, instead of taking the shortcut to power (dealing), the barrios problems would disappear. It is not only dealing, it is crimes such as robbery and burglary that create problems for the citizens who try to make a change.

    Your reference to religion is incorrect. I was refering to the combined philosophies of Chardin(yah, he happened to be Christian), Plato(yes, he wrote the republic), Democrittus...
    What people have learned through the years is you get what you put in. You create a "hell" around yourself by using people, by providing them a quick illusary solution to their problems (poverty, crime, lack of education). You create a "heaven" around yourself by teaching and creating products that help the lives of those you live around. (note- Some religions warn against creating a heaven on earth (Christianity is one), I am merely using the terms heaven and hell to describe the life people create around themselves)

    You say the war on drugs has a racist agenda.

    "The "War on Some Drugs" was created by White people as a way to control minorities. How else can you explain the fact that most people in jail for drug offenses are minorities? How else can you explain the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine? Crack is mainly used by minorities, so what other reason does it has a harsher penalty than the equivalent weight of powder cocaine used by Whites than racism? "

    Crack is more psychologically addictive and damaging to users than powder. How do I know? I used to live with a bunch of heroin addicts in Pittsburgh. The thing was, my boss was one of them. He got involved with this one guy to get cheaper heroin. The guy muscled in on his business and forced him to use all of these crackheads who owed the dealer money. I worked with a bunch of wiggin' out crack heads, many of whom had killed a few people because they just get pissed off (you ever hang out with crackheads?). These people would bum money off my boss, make up some sorry ass excuse that they had to pay a bill, and then they were gone the rest of the day. This didn't happen to many times. (They all justified it because he was a junkie, so he was using up the profits on getting high too-- excellent logic ).

    The friend of mine I refered to is the head of communications for the black caucus at my university. He grew up in north philly, in the projects. He has stories to tell, as do I. I have ran down to The Block in Baltimore to score drugs for people (myself included). I have been incarcerated in Texas and Pennsylvania (luckily not for about 5 years now, not that I ever did anything wrong- it was all BS, a bunch of evil cops- yah right... I know what I did). I grew up in a suburban white family- we had our problems- I ran away from home and bummed around Seattle for a bit. I have lived on the streets where you can't wear Raiders paraphenalia/ Bulls stuff/ and whatever.

    Basing your arguments on "You don't know shit" does not work. You can say that all day. While I agree that poverty is a problem in ghettos, the cure is hard work by the people. An interesting thing I noticed about the scientific and business communities is that despite differences, when push comes to shove, the main drive is creating a better product, a better life for everyone. When you sell someone drugs that only cause them to want more, the person no longer cares about consequences or community, they will do what they have to to get drugs. This almost always harms their community, making other people seek the easy way out (drugs).

    Drug dealers use other people with no regard to their community. Their philosophy is opposite of the philosophy of modern business. They see life as the one who takes the most wins . In mainstream society, the one who Produces the best product wins (note- this benefits everyone in the society, not just an individual; this also does not destroy lives, as drug addiction does; so, the net effects of dealing drugs are negative to all in a radius of effect- they decrease productivity, increase criminal activity which uses up the productivity of those who actually are trying to improve the barrio; the net effects of working hard too improve the barrio are- more produced, more to trade with outside world (we call that income, money), more to invest in the barrios productivity (into education, housing, etc.);
    Unfortunately for some people, this is a Free society. You only get what you put in, so if all you do is take, those around you end up with less (this creates the poverty in the barrio). If you start out with nothing, it is harder to get ahead. This means you must be productive to improve your community. You do not make the world a better place by taking from those who have more than you(they have more than others because they PRODUCE!). You must become productive.

    Drugs are not the root of all evil, it is the people who sell them and destroy the lives of their communities that are close to the root of evil (I said close too, it is actually the thought that the only way to succeed is to TAKE that is the root of all evil, this is why the barrio is the way it is, and the rest of the country seem to have so much more (They do, they are making the stuff!!!).

    Work hard, get a job, teach people in your neighborhood the only way to improve your neighborhood is to produce, not to take.

    Or formulate a well stated argument without statements like "You are a white guy, right?" followed by the statement "racial profiling by cops".

    The problem is lack of jobs? Jobs are produced, not taken. Someone who has the time to sit on a corner all day dealing drugs, has the time to work at a McDonalds until they can afford to start a business or go to school. At least than they are Producing .

    Dealers take from communities. Cops are societies immune system. They are not always right, but when a criminal is busted, it is good for society . Racial profiling happens to some extent- mainly cops act on the way people dress (imagine that). It is the assumption of some people, if you dress or act some way, then you have a certain set of beliefs--If a cop sees someone in nice clothes in a poverty stricken neighborhood, they are suspicious and rightfully so. Do you think it is some big producer coming into the neighborhood, or the source of the neighborhoods poverty? Look at dictatorships- the leader lives in luxury while the rest just produce for the leader and live in squallor. That is the ghetto.

    Some dealers might not realize what they are doing is hurting people, and they might help out their families and friends with the money they have taken from other areas of the community. They still are not creating something for their community, they are just taking what little money there is from one part, to another. Dealers just do not produce.


  • Comments like this are why the founding fathers decided to have a republic rather than a democracy.
  • by emag ( 4640 ) <slashdot AT gurski DOT org> on Friday December 08, 2000 @02:06PM (#571397) Homepage
    The simple fact is that landlines won't exist in twenty years at all. Nowadays mobility is the key; landlines are clearly archaic.

    Land lines are still relevant, at least here in the states. The company I was working for was doing some work for a car dealership a few years ago. As part of it, we all got to know most of the Big Guys(tm) there, such as the owner, CFO, etc. At the time I happened to mention while shooting the breeze how I was thinking about getting rid of my land line, because mobile phones were so much more convenient. The CFO told me flat out that yes, I could do that, as long as I didn't want to ever be approved for a loan.

    Apparently money lenders here more or less require one to have a telephone number at a fixed address. I can only assume it's because they want to know there's a place you're ostensibly going to show up at eventually, so if you start having repayment "problems", someone can stop by to "encourage" you to continue making your loan payments.

    So landlines aren't quite dead yet. Maybe if all the GPS-tracking of cellphones I've read about on certain mailing lists comes to be ubiquitous, landlines will be unimportant. But until then, they're still going to be necessary.

    (And the day I can ditch Verizon for someone else will be one of the happiest days of my life--from the very moment I called them to activate service (when it was Bell Atlantic here), I've had nothing but problems from them, and their attitude has, in general, sucked.)

  • I agree. You've just pointed out one of the (many) reasons this is a bad law.
  • I always forget to charge my cell.

    Precisely. It's not as if I WANT to be reached by phone - I don't even leave mine on. :P Behaviorism in action - send me an email, you phone-using bastards!

  • > What exactly do you mean 'for your regular
    > mail'?

    Exactly what he said. If it's a letter that
    doesn't require overnight delivery, it is
    *illegal* to send it via any carrier other than
    the USPS. About a year or two back, the USPS
    sued a company on the basis that they sent *all*
    their correspondence via FedEx, and that that
    was manifestly illegal, since at least *some* of
    their letters would not require overnight
    delivery. They won. The company paid postage
    charges to the USPS.

    Chris Mattern
  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <gundbear@ p a c b e ll.net> on Friday December 08, 2000 @02:07PM (#571401) Homepage
    Wireless cannot compete with wired bandwidth.

    Is there something in the future to fix that? I don't know. But as soon as VoIP and VideooIP start replacing POTS, I think the landlines will have a sudden advantage.

    There may be a schism up ahead in which both will compete in the same space, but really, they are independent and can survive off different markets.

    Landlines can be used fairly easily to provide something like T1 level speeds to the average user, where the digital network can stream both video, voice, data, etc. In the future, we can expect several times more bandwidth than that...

    Wireless is currently slow, and IIRC, 3G wireless is only expected to go up to 2mbps, which is just slightly faster than current DSL pipes... DSL has been shown capable of going up to 7mbps over copper wire (IIRC), and with the simple addition of another pair of wires, you can get 14mbps... with more complex wiring, of course (4 wires, for example), you could prolly get even better bandwidth and throughput than current t3 trunks ^^

    And that's not even talking about the potential of fibre-optic landlines ^^

    Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]
  • by Floody ( 153869 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @02:07PM (#571402)
    Here in BellSouth territory, it's common knowledge that Bell does everything in their power to derail competition.

    For example, they have managed to get a stranglehold on DSL. How did they do this? Despite the fact that competitive providers have DSLAMs at the COs, Bell still has to go out and handle any "last-mile" issues. When they are required to do this for their DSL competition, it's all too common for them to be too short staffed to handle the job. Delay after delay after delay sets in. Four to six weeks pass, and the end customer STILL doesn't have DSL.

    Oddly enough, should the customer get fed up and elect to choose BellSouth's "Fast Access" DSL service, a technician is somehow immediately available and dispatched. We've even had reports of Bell techs, dispatched by Covad/Netrail, telling customers that "there is a problem with your line, it's going to take a few weeks to fix. However, if you want BellSouth DSL, there are other things we can do to get it working immediately." Of course, this is NOT Bell's official policy, and they'll deny it to the ends of the earth if you call them on it.

    The whole thing is a joke. The baby bells will do anything in their power to hang on to their monopolies, including breaking the law.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work on Capitol Hill. The Telecom Act of 1996 was written entirely by lobbyists of the communications industry. And, look what resulted...Around here, the '96 Telecom act is referred to as "The best bill that the industry could buy." And, Clinton signed it. Ha!
  • Ask a San Diegan what he thinks of electric power deregulation after he paid about 3 times his average summer electricity bill this summer. The jury is still out on power deregulation, and the 10% discount period is only in its second year out of four. To our collective joy, we hear them threatening to have rolling blackouts this Christmas as they can't keep up with demand.

    I am sure it isn't the same with phone companies. Although it might become that way as phone service moves from a luxury (it is still taxed that way) to a commodity, like electricity. People tend to have an inertia with these things, they will stay with one company unless extremely incentivized. I am always willing to switch long-distance companies to save a cent a minute, but do I have a choice in local phone service? Can I select a new local provider out of a list of a number of local providers? Please, someone, tell me if I can, because I have never seen another phone company in my neighborhood except for GTE/Verizon. There is much much more at stake than phone calls now, of course. It relates to how you hook up to the world now, and who calls the shots. I think it may be time to consider the government's ideal role (governement is corrupt enough that they may not be the ones who should decide that as corporations may pull the strings in the politician dummy's back) in providing the "Internet Dial Tone" that is everyone's "basic human right" (quotes intended to illustrate skepticism).

    But it is time to consider whether or not it would be smart to have the government provide internet service to the home, perhaps via fiber hookup. After the "end-to-end" discussion of the past two days, I tend to think that no one company should be allowed to monopolize this highly lucrative prospect, like Verizon is at my house. Then again, look how the industry ripped us off with HDTV and satellite frequency band assignments... it will be a very hard war for the people to win, IMHO.

  • Britain deregulated telecoms in the mid-eighties (all telecoms, not just long distance), at first trying to get competition by promoting a second competitor and giving that competitor advantages (Mercury), and in the early nineties, when that clearly wasn't working, opening everything up and encouraging participation by the cable companies.
    What's the difference between Elton John and British Telecom ?


    They both have been screwed by Mercury ...

    Game over, 2000!

  • OK, once again you've actually bought in to the propaganda from Washington DC (the "unreal" Washington) that there was deregulation.

    The only deregulation with any teeth was that allowing the large players to buy out more of the mid and small players. And to merge with equally large players. Paid for by lobbyists. [yes, I own AT&T, Cox, and France Telecom, so trust me on this]

    The requirement that colocates were to be required was put in with no regulatory teeth. If US West or AT&T decide they don't have enough space, they don't have to let you colocate in their CO. If they "need" the space for their own growth, you don't get in. If they just can't be bothered, you still don't get to colocate until it's convenient for them. And since DSL and Cable Modems are both unregulated services, they can do this.

    What will happen - basically, the big players will continue to triumph and the small and mid players will either be bought out or crushed. And endless committees in Washington DC will do precisely nothing, since they depend on all those fat, juicy bribes we call "PAC donations" and all those nice "bundled, independent" contributions.

    And, since you can't be bothered to buttonhole your congressmembers and senators, they'll keep getting away with it.

  • Well done. If this poem doesn't win you awards and the national recognition you so richly deserve it would be a crime against the written word. I shall now go burn my Voltaire books.
  • It isn't Pacbell it's SWBC. I noticed this about 2 years ago when on a trip to the local central office.
    They were like we aren't Pacbell we are SWBC, and I'm like Wait, wasn't there a congressional act against telco monopolies. And he was like Yeah ...
    I never understood what the fuss is, goverment should just make the telephone service either free, or the government should controll the access.
  • Hmm, of course internal need for bandwidth would obviously take a higher precendence over external customers attempting to lease/buy Sprint bandwidth. I think every company is going to be in this crunch though in the very near future as wireless expands. Of course, other companies are free to build their own towers, that's the difference between the possibility of Sprint not sharing it's bandwidth and the Bells not opening the local loop. It's a lot easier to build new towers than it would be to set up telephone poles which parallel all of the Bell poles for each competitor. Imagine five poles side by side everywhere you see one today. Just not feasible. Of course people don't like towers in their backyards either, so we'll have to wait and see which way the wind blows.

  • I live by myself.

    I don't have a landline. I don't need one. I don't talk on the phone enough to warrant paying an extra $20-30/month for a landline.

    Unfortunately, I can't get DSL as a result.

    And Look [www.look.ca] seems to not be offering residential Ultrafast2 service anymore (which is REALLY too bad - 3Mb over sattelite, with a wireless backchannel).
  • I signed up for ION service in October, and they are slowly working through Qwest (really U.S. West here) to get me hooked up (happily I already have a DSL line or I'd be very annoyed with the delay).

    As far as I could tell from the tech specs, I think you speak of:

    The Sprint ION Control Center

    You will manage your Sprint ION services with a simple, easy-to-use computer interface - the Sprint ION Control Center. Once opened via a desktop icon, the Sprint ION Control Center will allow you to access email and the Internet, control your calling features, add and delete telephone users, view account information, pay your bill and even contact customer support.

    I just called the ION people to ask about this, and they tenitivley confimed what I thought.

    I think you might have to have Windows or a Mac to run the control center, but I don't think you'd have to have it up all the time or on more than one box (after everything is configured). Or possibly you could run it in WINE - I'm willing to take the gamble for a higher speed link. I think to install any DSL service you would need Windows running anyway, as the techs that come out really need to configure things with Windows since that's all they know. I'm actually impressed they support Macs as well.

  • we could paraphrase the answer with another question: where is the deregulation? The telco's are still regulated, and they have been using that regulation to choke out the would-be competition.

    I think that if we want to have some competition and some approximation to universal access, we're going to have to do what has been done in the power company deregulation efforts around the world: separate the distribution network from the generation network. The telephone analog of this would be to split the local telco's into a distribution company, which owns the copper, and a service provider, which pays a fee for (NON-exclusive) use of the lines to provide dialtone. Then anyone could pay the same fee and get the same access.

    The distribution company could be a regulated semi-monopoly; I say semi-monopoly, since we should allow cable and wireless companies to compete for the business of delivering a dialtone. The distribution companies would be able to ensure universal access in the same way we currently achieve it, by cross-subsidies.

    The service companies should be quite unregulated. Anyone should be able to set up some switchgear in their garage and be a service provider. The service company which was split off from the distribution company would have the advantage of an existing customer base, plentiful capital, and a corporate culture of dedication to customer service which would ensure that startups could make headway. Cherry-picking here shouldn't be a problem, I think, since the marginal cost should be about the same for providing a dial tone to any customer.
  • This is a sneaky little POS law snuck in by our beloved drug czar. It's to prevent drug dealers from getting bank accounts with cell phones and no provable address. Thanks, drug czar! I'm one of the many people who would ditch his land line if it weren't for the War on Some Drugs.

    And BTW, because of that, it only applies in the States.

  • I've been trying to get my ION up since October, with all of the delay being on the U.S. West side. I'm not sure I buy into your theory about them having more pull - in fact I sort of wish I had someone whose paycheck rode on getting my equipment hooked up in charge of forcing U.S. West to do what needs to be done. Instead I have two giant facelss corperations getting me hooked up on a geological time scale.

    The really sad part of it all is that I already have U.S. West DSL so you KNOW the line is OK for DSL. Yet they have to come out and qualify the whole loop again.
  • Yeah, I want my whistles, damnit!


  • Who wants to be chained to their job/problems/mundane life 24/7/365?

    My cell phone can be turned off when I don't want to receive phone calls.

  • As social animals, we unconsciously make it so that those things that are desirable in life, are also attainable only by those who have the most money. That is the essence of competition. Only a percentage of those competing for anything ever actaully get it. THat is how social animals organize. So teh American Dream is tro be in the top half/quaarter/ten percent, whatever--that is the essence of a "premium".
  • Query: what is the ratio of 'ditch the land line' to 'non-ditch the land line' people? I'm curious :)
    (I wouldn't ditch mine. I always forget to charge my cell.)
  • We need to break up the local phone companies into two pieces - a piece that owns/maintains the local loop (and the central office) and a piece that provides dialtone. Regulate the part that owns the local loop and let the part that provides dialtone become unregulated. Use the rules and regulations for the breakup of AT&T as a model for how to seperate the two pieces. It is very, very expensive to put wires/fiber into the ground. The local loopsIS a natural monopoly, like cable, power, gas, and water service. --Eric
  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @04:05PM (#571420) Homepage
    Landlines can be used fairly easily to provide something like T1 level speeds to the average user, where the digital network can stream both video, voice, data, etc. In the future, we can expect several times more bandwidth than that...

    I think you are being very optimistic about the quality of the copper loops that are out there in the real world. There are loading coils, bridge taps, excessively long loops, crosstalk problems, corroded connections, missing or incorrect documentation, pair gain devices, loops that terminate at SLCs (subscriber loop carrier). Even if you had the money, you couldn't give everyone a T1 on the existing copper wiring. A T1, provisioned with HDSL boxes, requires two clean pairs that are less than 12,000 feet long.

    As far as I can tell, most of the telephone companies are not investing any money in new copper subscriber loops that connect to a central office. They seem to be following the examples of the steel and railroad companies, using the cash generated by their decaying infrastructure to invest in more profitable businesses. Residential telephone service has never been a high margin business.

  • File a complaint, man! You shouldn't just say that's the way things are and drop it, call them on it. I'm in North Carolina, in BellSouth territory. We had just opened a new office and were trying to get phones installed. We elected to use BTI instead of BellSouth to try to do our part to encourage competition. They, of course, had to subcontract to BellSouth to get the last mile work done. Oddly enough, BellSouth missed their appointment(s) to come out to install the lines - FOR FIVE WEEKS IN A ROW.

    On the sixth week, I decided that this was just ridiculous and tracked down the state government agency in charge of telecommunications utilities issues - the State Utilities Commision, here in North Carolina anyway. I filed a complaint, the nice lady got on the phone, lit some fires, and several days later we had phones. I honestly hadn't expected action, but she said it wasn't simply a service issue but a safety issue as well. Good point.

    I had similar problems getting DSL installed from an indepedent ISP using Covad's lines. Once again, I filed a complaint. The nice lady was very interested in my story, and asked me to encourage others experiencing such troubles to file complaints. The phone number for the North Carolina agency is 919-733-9277, it should be very easy for an experienced web surfer to find contact information for analogous agencies in other states.

  • Sprint does not have a monopoly on wireless towers, the Bell companies have a monopoly on landlines. That is a key difference.
  • by Kiss the Blade ( 238661 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:44PM (#571425) Journal
    The landline companies are unimportant. They have to compete with wireless, mobiles, satellite etc etc

    The simple fact is that landlines won't exist in twenty years at all. Nowadays mobility is the key; landlines are clearly archaic. My generation her in Britain doesn't use land-lines at all - everyone has a mobile. They are cheaper and offer higher quality. When 3G liscences arrive, the competition will be annihilated.

    I predict that companies such as Vodafone and Erikkson will control the infosphere in the future. They are the ones we should be watching, not 20th century corps like Verizon.

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

  • III

    Hear the loud alarum bells -
    Brazen bells!
    What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
    In the startled ear of night
    How they scream out their affright!
    Too much horrified to speak,
    They can only shriek, shriek,
    Out of tune,
    In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
    In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
    Leaping higher, higher, higher,
    With a desperate desire,
    And a resolute endeavor
    Now - now to sit, or never,
    By the side of the pale - faced moon.
    Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
    What a tale their terror tells
    Of Despair!
    How they clang, and clash and roar!
    What a horror they outpour
    On the bosom of the palpitating air!
    Yet the ear, it fully knows,
    By the twanging,
    And the clanging,
    How the danger ebbs and flows;
    Yet the ear distinctly tells,
    In the jangling,
    And the wrangling,
    How the danger sinks and swells,
    By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells -
    Of the bells -
    Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
    Bells, bells, bells -
    In the clamor and the clanging of the bells!

    Thank you.
  • by jmorse ( 90107 ) <joe_w_morse@NoSPAM.nospYAHOoam.com> on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:45PM (#571428) Homepage Journal

    Have you been reading the news? We keep having power shortages here in CA, largely due to deregulation. It's a bit funny that deregulation was supposed to increase the supply of available power, thereby reducing prices. Since no new plants have been build in CA is like 15 years, we keep having to buy power from expensive out of state companies...

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:47PM (#571431) Homepage Journal
    Britain deregulated telecoms in the mid-eighties (all telecoms, not just long distance), at first trying to get competition by promoting a second competitor and giving that competitor advantages (Mercury), and in the early nineties, when that clearly wasn't working, opening everything up and encouraging participation by the cable companies.

    What happened? Cherry picking. The cost of putting together even a new long distance network, let alone a local network which - even given access to an existing local loop - is a complex and expensive proposition to get involved in, is astronomical. Competitors, with the exception of the cable companies, exclusively targetted big businesses and left the consumer market to token long distance services and that was it.

    The assumption the US legislature made was that all telephone companies will try to serve the whole market, or see all parts of the market as having the potential for dramatic profits. That assumption, frankly, is a load of tosh.

    AT&T got a monopoly in the early part of the 20th century because of a recognition on both sides that providing universal service was only an advantage to a telephone company if it owned the entire market. AT&T accepted regulation as the price for this. But while "universal service" is useful to a competitive telephone company, it is a burden to provide, and nobody wants to do it. As a result, competitive telecoms is focussed pretty much exclusively on the bodies that pay the most, ignoring the residential and small business markets.

    Legislators made the mistake of thinking that the only barrier to entry in the residential market was the absense of an open local loop. But this was untrue even in 1996 - cable companies have always had the capability to operate telephone networks over their loops, and many American cable companies have experience from running exactly those types of system in the UK.

    William Kennard, FCC chair, once introduced Britain's OFTEL boss of the time as proving competitive, deregulated, telecoms could work. OFTEL, of course, prove no such thing, and most of the move forward to de-regulated telephony has been the result of ideological bunk, rather than because anyone has a clear, sensible, way of making it work.

    How do you fix it? There are several options. You could forget the crap and go back to heavy regulation. You could, on the other hand, remove the local loop from the telephone companies. This forces the creation of a market for the telephone companies to serve. Whether this is enough to encourage telephone companies to dip their toes in the water of residential telephony is open to question, but it's a better situation than what we have now.

    What you don't do is just assume that competition will automatically develop if you "open" a market. Competition will only ever appear in markets where there is a great deal of money to be made, and the residential telephony business is not where that's at.

  • what do you mean by that ? Isn't it obvious that capitilism is totalitarian ? Free competition just means competition between a couple companies that own 90 percent of the services, it doesn't actually mean free competition like in a sports playoff or something of that nature. using the sports analogy again, only a few teams get to get in the playoffs in capitilism, not everyone. The only time that people get outraged is when there is only one company, i.e. a monopoly. But even with anti-trust laws against a monopoly, capitalism has no problem with there being 2 companies or a small number of companies controlling and totalizing everything and everyone too. For example, coca-cola and pepsi want to totalize the world's refreshments, they want people to drink their drink over any other drink, not just over other soft drinks, and they don't care at what expense they do it.
  • Interesting...see my sig...
  • I'm one of the many people who would ditch his land line if it weren't for the War on Some Drugs.

    Amen! I'd be doing the same thing myself, but I kinda like being able to drive something other than a clunker right now. :-(

  • AT&T lost the use of the "Bell" name in 1984. Today's AT&T is very different from the old Ma Bell. Most of the monopolist culture stuck with the RBOCs, who got the shared Bell trademark (though it's fading in some areas).

    I too have AT&T Broadband/formerly-MediaOne phone service and it's quite good. AT&T still has management problems but in point of fact they're sworn blood enemies of the Bell companies, especially Bell Awful/Bell Titanic/VeriZontal. That's reason alone to wish AT&T well.
  • by Mr_Dyqik ( 156524 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @01:47PM (#571456)
    It's even more fun here in Britain. all of the last mile line is owned by British Telecom (who used to be part of the General Post Office, whose sole owner was the government. The post office and BT were split and privatised about ten years ago, BT were supposed to have allowed other providers access to the last mile of line about June this year. The current timetable is looking like being June next year, and even then, there's no space in the telephone exchanges for all the providers who want access. Therefore, who gets access will be decided on a beauty contest (i.e. whoever offers the best prospective services, which is in no way related to who can actually provide these services), with a roll of a dice settling any ties.

    It would have been a lot better if the government watchdog over seeing all this actually did anything (see any days version of www.theregister.co.uk for more sarcastic details)
  • I'd give the tiny phone company a chance. Pacific Bell is horrible to deal with.


The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.