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Have the Baby Bells won? 158

DerFeuervogel writes: " This article at Yahoo describes how the Baby Bells may have already won the battle of who controls the Internet. Am I the only one who finds this disturbing?" Congress is busy working to let the Bells off the hook, clearing the way for them to finish demolishing the competing carriers such as Covad and Northpoint. Five years from now, there will be about five companies providing high-speed internet access in the United States.
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Have the Baby Bells won?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...our wacky friends at AOL/TimeWarner and their RoadRunner cable system. They're likely to be in it for the long haul, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So whats the difference between a corp buying a senator vs the CEO of said corp buying a senator?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @06:33AM (#264717)
    This is why it will happen eventually - because people just dont get it. You say pacbell doesnt offer service in your area, OK. You say it would be fine if there were only 5 providers nationwide.

    This was not meant as 5 IN YOUR AREA, it was meant as 5 in the nation and if they keep it the way it is now it will be carved up pretty much like it is now. You will be lucky if you have 2 providers in your area. They dont divide it like that because then they are competing against each other which they(they being the bells in the whole msg) dont want to do.If you are in pacbell's service area - call up qwest and see if they can provide you phone service. If you dont get hung up on you will be put on speakerphone and laughed at. It just doesnt work that way. This is not competition it is segmentation. Like warlords of old carving up real estate, making small kingdoms where they have absolute power.

    If you have pacbell then they will be you broadband provider. If you have qwest now then they will be your provider. You wont have a choice you will take what is available by one of the big 5 that controls your area. THIS IS BAD! This is not competition, this is a monopoly similar to 20 years ago in the phone arena. Just divided down to a regional level.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @05:26AM (#264718)

    As a former Public Utilities Commission employee, I can tell you that the Bell's do some seriously shady stuff. Interesting stat: Average USWest customer response call wass around 5 days before the merger. Average Qwest response since the merger: 5 months.

    If you try to order DSL service and your particular bell tells you to take a hike, DO NOT believe them. Most of their line testing and reporting software is based of of network diagrams that are grossly incorrect. I recently ordered a DSL line for a data center last fall. My first attempt to get DSL through a bell started 2 YEARS before. I finally placed an order through Covad (Local ISP), who claimed they had DSLAMs inside the Central Office my phone service runs out of. USWest however, claimed to have Load Coils and Bridge Taps on the line, which pretty much screws the pooch for DSL. They also claimed my line ran through a SLC-90, which is a remote switching device. Again, DSL-bye-bye.

    Through some twist of wierd coincidence, the sales guy I was working with had a buddy at USWest. So he came out one day and examined the line itself (not a damn diagram) and found that it was only 11,400 ft. of pure copper straight to the central office. Again, I try ordering, USWest says no.

    So, I call UUNet. They offer DSL through a number of CLECs. In my case, I would use Covad and then conviently ride the UUNet backbone which just happens to run through the same CO. After explaining my situation to the Sales Manager at UUNet, they took the stance that USWest might bully a local ISP, but UUNet is bigger than buddha, and they'll take a hard stance.

    So, my line provisioning order was personally faxed to USWest by me with a 119 page FCC ORDER that pretty much spells out any Bell has to condition lines for CLEC service.

    The best thing you can do for yourself is hop on a site like DSL Reports [] and get as much information about your phone line as possible. Distance, where your CO is, etc. Then call your Public Utilities/Service Commission and become an "Irrate Customer". Most of the time, states themselves will spell out additional requirements to implemeting service. Then, get on the horn with AT&T, UUNet, or some other company that makes the Bells look like a corner hot dog stand, and explain your situation, and tell them to go to town. Generally, they will even COVER the cost of line conditioning assuming you are within the proper range and don't live in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska. Your service will generally be a business grade DSL line (SDSL/768Up-Down/Full Class C...And a whopping 35ms ping to anywhere in the country for me.) and cost a bit more, but it's either that or a T1.

    So what did I learn? There WAS legislation on the table to make things better for all of us and give competition a chance. Unforntunately, we've got in the White House now, who seem intent on reversing any sort of progress that was made over the last 4-5 years. It's a complete uphill battle, and unfortunately, Micheal Powell (The new FCC f$cko) doesn't really give a damn.

    Remember this next time you vote guys.

  • by Erbo ( 384 )
    When AT&T had a monopoly, you used to rent your phone from the phone company. It was an inexpensive fee. The phones were high quality and would last for a decade. Now you buy your own phone, they're cheap and they'll last for two years if you're lucky.

    You've obviously been buying the wrong brand of phones. We have two in our home that were purchased four years ago and still work fine, and we expect them to last quite awhile longer.

    Oh, incidentally, they're AT&T phones...a high-end AT&T speakerphone in the living room, and a Trimline in the bedroom. (I used to have one of the old Western Electric Trimline phones, and the new AT&T Trimline feels exactly the same in quality.) Sure, they might have cost a little more than your Conairphones or whatever. But, sometimes, you do get what you pay for...and, in the long run, they'll still be cheaper than paying the old phone rental fees.


  • The Bells have a lot of money and employ a lot of people in this country. As a result they have a lot of clout on Capitol Hill. Rep. Tauzin is basically owned lock, stock, and barrel by the RBOCs. But he's not the problem.

    The problem is the state PUC's and the FCC which have refused to enforced the competitive provisions of the Telecom Act at the same time they've approved all these RBOC mergers. When it came time for SBC to buy Ameritech, local competitors, consumer groups, and others told the Illinois Commerce Commission that this was a boondoggle destined to lead to poor service and higher prices for consumers. But the ICC approved the merger anyway, as did all other regulators. When SBC fired all the techs and suddenly it could take months to get a phone installed, the regulators were shocked - shocked, mind you - by the state of affairs. Too bad they're the ones who caused it.

    Another regulatory boondoggle was reciprocal compensation. The Bells have long made a huge chunk of their money - about $18 billion worth every year last I checked - by charging long distance carries extremely high rates far in excess of actual costs in order to interconnect with their networks. These are called "access charges". In times past, upwards of 40% of the cost of a long distance call actually got kicked back to the RBOC, something few people were aware of.

    Well, the RBOC's figured they'd gouge their new competitors - dubbed the CLEC's for competitive local exchange carrier - the same way by charging similarly outrageous interconnection fees of nearly $0.01/minute. This scheme was called reciprocal compensation and represents money that must be paid to the local carrier that terminates a call (since we don't pay to receive phone calls) by the carrier that originated it. The Bells figured since they had 100% of the market, they'd get 100% of the terminating traffic and would rake it in.

    Unfortunatley for them, the CLEC's were smarter than the LD companies and signed up huge numbers of ISP's. Suddenly the RBOC's were paying $2 billion per year to competitors. They didn't like this one bit so they just decided to stop paying. The CLEC's were forced to sue, and more than five years after the Telecom Act, the RBOC's still are trying to get out of paying. And they finally found someone who will help them out. The FCC has basically adopted a plan that will end reciprocal compensation - but only for ISP traffic, the only kind CLEC's really benefited from - after a two year transition period.

    Meanwhile, the states are starting to let the Bells into the long distance market, despite their continued poor customer service, anti-competitive behaviors (the recipcomp thing is only the tip of the iceberg), and the fact taht they continue to own 95% of the local market.

    And lest you think the CLEC's get off scot free, think again. The poorly thought out regulatory scheme led them to start gaming the system by signing up huge numbers of ISP customers without even trying to break into the business or residential market. You could have a nice business just doing recipcomp only. Why beat the street trying to sign up hard customers when the ISP's are easy. I hear some of these companies even split the recipcomp money with the ISP's, leading to a nice little cash cow for all. (Most of the CLEC's you've heard of - the ones that are publicly traded - don't fall into this category. They serve other customers in addition to ISPs).

    The only ray of hope we have is that the FCC has initiated a rulemaking procedures to review all forms of intercarrier compensation. Hopefully this will result in the FCC turning off the $18 billion access charge spigot to the RBOC's. But I doubt it. The Bells have too much clout.

    To really reform telecom we need the following. Don't hold your breath.

    1. Cost based access charges, or even no access charges in areas where the Bells are in the LD market.

    2. Break up the Bells to separate their network assets (the wholesale side) from the customer assets (the retail side).

    3. Real and substantial penalities to companies that engage in anti-competitive behavior. (Say hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, plus no long distance for you).

    4. Real and substantial penalities for companies that aren't meeting their customer service committments in non-competitive markets such as residential local service. (Say hundreds of millions of dollars + no LD for you).

    5. An end to any acquisitions by RBOC's until after the local market has achieved full competition.

  • I also can't imagine why anyone would wait for DSL, sign a contract, then wait months everytime they move to get their service reconnected.

    Count yourself amongst the lucky! I can't get either service.

    About a year ago, our neighborhood was swarming with MediaOne trucks and new cable lines were being set up. Then, one day they all disappeared. No, they weren't done, they just stopped. All of the new cable was still 'temporarily' hung from the existing cable with nothing connecting the segments together. Every windy day, more of it comes down in people's yards. About once a week, a truck (now ATT trucks since the takeover) cruises through the neighborhood looking at things, and then goes away.

    Three months ago, BellSouth replaced the 28 year old buried phone lines in the neighborhood. No, they didn't have the forethought to bury any fiber as long as they were going to dig up our yards anyway, just copper. They replaced the runs up to our houses as well, just running the cables up along the driveway. They disappeared before burying those cables. Now, about once a week, a Bell truck cruises the neighborhood and looks at the unburied cables, then (you guessed it!) disappears.

    This does NOT bode well for decent internet access anytime soon. Mind you, neither BellSouth nor MediaOne (now ATT) ever hesitated to gush about how wonderful our high speed internet would be one fine day. MediaOne started advertising all of these advances in 1995. BellSouth started in '96. Now ATT says it'll be 2002 sometime and Bell offers no estimate that I can find. At the rate we're going, future colonists on Mars will have DSL first.

  • The only thing that cable MSO's rely on is the use of telephone poles for signal distribution

    The "telephone poles" are usually owned by the electric company. They own the right of way, keep the trees cut and lease out bits to the baby bells, cable co, etc.

  • monopolies, even regulated monopolies ARE BAD!

    Two words:


    Remember the same phone EVERYONE got to lease from the phone company before Ma Bell was split up? Now picture THAT kind of innovation as a DSL modem.
  • not just physical build-out of the wires themselves, also the manpower buildout, maintenance, etc.
    Without this field force of hundreds of ex-postal workers in little vans driving around after every thunderstorm, you don't have a network. That, in of itself is an additional "build-out" issue.
  • AT&T pimps out its brand name for phones. You can even find "IBM" brand phones at Staples. Southwest Bell? Who the hell are they? You think General Electric makes their phones right next to the jet engines and locomotives? Most cordless phones are made by VTech or Uniden, no matter the brand.

    And for the original poster: do you really think it is economcially efficient for the U.S. to have Western Electric factories turning out phones that last 40 years or more so we can lease them from a telco monopoly? That is a freaking wierd case of nostalgia.

  • by Zigurd ( 3528 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:56AM (#264726) Homepage
    If a wireline infrastructure is so expensive to operate, you could build a competitive one, especially if you did not have a unionized workforce. This is exactly what the fiber CLECs that are cream-skimming the big business customers are doing. This won't help you or me get broadband cheaper, but it does apply to businesses, universities, and governments. Business is 60% of ILEC local service revenue, and the CLECs are, in abolute terms, growing this business faster than the ILECs (check out for the numbers).

    The DLECs lost becuase they focused on wholesale in an unprofitable business: Internet access. Not enough margin dollars to go around. Voice is half the revenue and all of the profit in telecom.

    Second, what do you think backhauls from wireless transcievers and base stations? A wireline infrastructure. It isn't cheap putting up all those antennas. Each individual location might cost less than the floor space for a DSLAM in a CO, but taken together they might, or might not, be cheaper. And for high-end business customers, nothing beats glass for cost per bit.

    It is far from obvious what will win. The situation is complex, with lots of replacement technologies: Like current-generation digital wireless competing against wireline POTS - if your mobile phone is your most important phone, the easiest way to save money on phones is to shut off your land line. Of course current-generation wireless can't do broadband Internet access. For that, wireless infrastructure will have to acquire a lot more backhaul bandwidth. Will that force a copper-to-fiber transition there?

    The only way to implement the intent of the Telecom Act of 1996 in opening competition for small consumers is to do structural separation of the ILECs into wholesale and retail. Then you could deregulate the market becuase everyone would be a CLEC. Don't worry: there certainly would not be an upstream supply shortage ala electricity in California. Telephone switches are not in short supply.

  • SBC is the only Baby Bell mentioned in the article that survives as such to my knowledge, though they tried to merge with AT&T a few years back, and come to think of it used to be BellSouth and SouthWestern Bell if I remember correctly.

    You don't remember correctly. Southwestern Bell bought Pacific Telesis Group or whatever the hell the parent company of Pacific Bell was called, and became SBC Communications. They later bought Ameritech.

    BellSouth is still, as far as I know, independent.

  • That's the reality of the telecom infrastructure folks. Wireline infrastructure involves massive expenditures that can only be absorbed by the companies that originally had heavy government funding to install the infrastructure in the first place.

    Did AT&T, in the US, have government funding, or did they merely have (regulated) monopoly status and profits?

    What about Bell Canada (which, according to this item on Bell Canada's timeline [], was a private company since Day One)?

    In Europe, most of the telephone systems were, I think, Government-run (typically by the post office, I think), although, at least according to one of Andrew Leonard's articles on [], Finland's government "chose to grant licenses to operate telephone companies to all applicants" so that the Tsar of all the Russias would have to take over a whole bunch of telephone companies in order to control phone service in the Autonomous Duchy of Finland.

    It will be interesting to see how local loop unbundling works in Europe.

  • Is a CLEC or an ISP? The Baby Bells are competitors to both, but I don't know whether competitive ISPs (who don't, as far as I know, have to locate equipment in the Baby Bells' COs) are having as many problems competing as are the CLECs who use the Baby Bells' wires.

  • I believe Bellsouth and GTE merged to form Verizon.

    Then you believe something that isn't true, because Verizon is the result of Bell Atlantic and GTE merging (Bell Atlantic, BTW, bought Nynex several years ago). BellSouth are still independent.

    However, in any case, the article wasn't presenting "facts", it was presenting the author's predictions for what the facts will be in 2004; to quote the article:

    Here is what the United States telecommunications industry
    may well look like in 2004[emphasis mine]:

    Of the Baby Bell local phone carriers, once seven in number, three remain Qwest Communications, SBC Communications and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ - news) and they are by far the most powerful and important communications companies in the nation. The corporations once known as long-distance carriers, like AT&T, are shells of their former selves.


    WorldCom, a highflier once worth more than $150 billion, now belongs to one of the Bells, making that company a major force in the business services market. Sprint was acquired by another Bell, or perhaps by a foreign carrier, but only after spinning off its wireless or local phone operations.

    So he's not saying that Worldcom is now owned by a Baby Bell, he's saying that one possibility is that, by 2004, they could be owned by a Baby Bell.

  • by MinusOne ( 4145 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:30AM (#264731)
    I am always amazed at people who claim that the only effect of the IBM antitrust suit was the enriching of lawyers or the wasting of taxpayer dollars. The mist significant effect of the antitrust suit was the incredible growth of the computer industry itself, led by the PC industry. Because of the antitrust suit, IBM published the detailed specs of all of their machines, including the IBM PC right down to providing BIOS source. This resulted in many companies cloning the PC and led to tremendous innovation in PC design as these companies competed for market advantage. If it weren't for the antitrust suit IBM would never have provided the information necessary for the clones to be produced and the PC market would never have grown the way we did. Look at what Apple did, keeping the Mac closed and crushing the cloners. IBM would have done exactly the same thing.
    It would be easy to mak ethe argument that the main beneficiaries of this "failed" suit are Microsoft, Compaq and Dell.
  • Read some antitrust history

    A review [] of major antitrust suits (Standard Oil, American Tobacco, and Alcoa, etc.) reveals that the accused firms monopolized or "restrained" trade; on the contrary, the firms expanded outputs enormously, innovated continuously, and generally lowered prices for consumers.

    Add to that the indictment of US Steel and IBM, which never lead to a finding of monopoly, but transfered millions of dollars from production to lawyers.

    Now the ILECs ("Baby Bells")... they ARE a coercive monopoly, granted by your local government. Why can't I take my State to court for antitrust violations?
  • First of all. There is always going to be way more than 5 high speed internet access carriers in the US. God I can thing of at least five in my homestate of New York. DSL failed because it was resold like 3 times before it got to the customer. The Telco's sold their lines to places like Covad/NorthPoint. They inturn sold them to ISP's like mindspring or telocity ect. and in some cases the smaller ISP resold their service. With a final selling price of 40-50 a month how the heck is anyone going to make money???? I am sure everystep of the chain the top guy is getting as much as possible for the lines. Plus there is NO SLA, that means they get tossed to the bottom of the ticket queue for maintance cause no one is going to loss money if they stay down the extra couple days (no contract.) Lets look at TW or Comcast and their highspeed systems. They built their infrastructure (fiber, cable), they built up their network (peering, egress ect) and the sell and service their systems themselves. It's vertical integration and it's been an economic principle since grade school people. TW is going to do the best for itself and it's customers because they are benifiting from it. Why would Verizon or Covad care if mom and pop is having trouble with a DSL line that they get $2/month from (resold) when they have their own customers to worry about who they actually make money from. It was a bad business model to begin with. Where I work the only time we resell other ISP's lines is if the customer spend a boat load of money with us already and they need a line in some area we don't support. We aren't going to loss their business over a single T-1 (aren't going to make any money either.) Ok I am done ranting.
  • unfortunately, competition is not practical in the last mile scenario. Last mile is a natural monopoly. A rule of thumb as to whether or not an economic situation is a natural monopoly is seeing if the per customer average cost increases every time a competitor enters a market. In the case of last mile, you'll find that this is true. It does not matter what technology you use because all providers in a market go after the same customer base and all customers purchase service from one provider.

    Part of the problems with the telecommunication landscape is that people are trying to legislate competition where it is not economically possible for competition to exist. It's the economic equivalent of legislating pi to be equal to 3.0.

    The only way out of this mess is to split the Baby Bells into wholesale and retail organizations. The wholesale organization would manage the last mile physical plant and the retail would purchase services from the wholesale organization on an equal footing with any other competitor.

  • The California problem is because they *deregulated* the power industry.

    They *had* a private, well-regulated monopoly, and it worked well.

  • There is nothing wrong with a REGULATED monopoly. Please, actually read the post before you respond to it.

    For the dimwits who were yammering about the government being incompetent at regulating, it's worth noting that the successful implementations have been regulated by a non-government advisory board, which has strong representation for consumer interests.

    [BTW, AT&T charged for each and every handset, because those handsets were owned by AT&T. You rented them. In return, however, AT&T also had to repair them, no matter how they got damaged. That's why they were built like a brick.]

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @07:16AM (#264737) Homepage
    One Provider Is Plenty.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with a monopoly.

    In fact, there are times when it's good to have a monopoly.

    Of course, you can't let the monopoly have free reign. It must be regulated in the public interest. In exchange for having a monopoly business, the company must accept regulation.

    The monopoly business gets the advantages of no competition, economy of scale, and a captive customer.

    The public should get the advantages of universal service, higher levels of customer service, lower prices, and stability.

    It's a win-win situation... if it's done well. Read on:

    In the telco industry, it would be a generally good thing to allow the Bells to have a monopoly. But regulate hell outta them: force them to provide fiber to all new installations; to provide full and timely customer service; to upgrade switches with the latest technology instead of the antique crap they have in storage; to roll out DSL to every home within the next five years; and regulate the prices they charge.

    It can be made to work, if it were approached systematically and intelligently.

    Alas, what's going to happen is that competition is going to weed out the weak, and we'll be left with just a few very powerful, very wealthy, very uncontrolled telephone companies that answer to no one but their stockholders.

    It's going to be ugly. The consumer will not come out the winner.

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:55AM (#264738) Homepage
    This is untrue. In British Columbia, the tame monopoly was a godsend to most communities.

    BC is a mountainous province with thousands of extremely small communities, populations well under 1000 and frequently under 300.

    All these communities had telephone service of some sort (radio telephone in the most remote communities) because the monopoly was mandated to provide that service.

    When those tiny communities had equipment breakdown, the telephone company had to repair the equipment, and quickly. If the repair necessitated an upgrade, the upgrade used the latest equipment, not some crappy old mechanical switch from the back storeroom.

    There entire province is wired for fiber. Dinky-ass little farming communities with less than 500 people have fiber to the main switch.

    There's DSL everywhere, and it's cheap ($30/mo if you supply the modem. That's about $2.50 American.)

    There's fiber to the home in most new developments. The fiber stops at the interior wall, because there's no way to use it yet -- but it's there, ready and waiting.

    Tame monopolies are a Good Thing. The trick, as always, is taming them. Can't take no guff from 'em!

  • and one of them, Bell Atl^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^hVerizon isn't offering any high speed in my 'hood.

    Actually just want to show of my fashionable 'fake reply' sig

  • What is wrong with monopolies? Anglo-saxons seem to have a rabid fear of monopolies, which can lead to extremes. In the last century, for example, in England, train brakes were not standardized, precisely for fear of monopolies. Cars which had to run on severail railroad companies had to have two or more mutually incompatible brake systems. Needless to say, this added unnecessary operating complexity, useless extra-weight carried about and extra maintenance costs. All because of an irrational fear of monopoly.

    Monopolies, when properly regulated, can be very effective; remember the old Bell system? Since the Bell system was broken-up in baby bells, quality of service has gone down, and the cost of local service has shot through the roof.

    Only long-distance service has seen a decrease in cost, only to the benefit of big croporations, which are heavy long-distance users.


  • The boom in wireless services could destroy the little fiefdoms held by the baby bells. It takes a lot less effort to rent space in a town's bell towers than it does to run copper to every single home. Wireless makes those "last-mile" connections easier and cheaper. Plus, users get the benefit of mobility. The baby bells are milking their strangleholds on the local markets for all their worth, as well as their favor with lawmakers. However, the smart bet is on the companies that are successfully building a foundation for a wireless communications infrastructure.

  • I wonder how much time until a corparation buys a state?

    The corporations know better than to try to buy states from the US gov't -- they go to the individual state gov'ts for that. And it's usually more cost effective to rent states than it is to buy them. (Most of them are already taken, though.)

    As far as the US gov't is concerned, there's not much left for them to sell or rent that anyone wants. (Well, ok, there's that national park in Alaska, but that's just a matter of finishing up the paperwork.)

  • People favoring "competition" over good service. The two do not necessarily go together.

    Not necessarily, true. But that's usually the best way to place your bets.

    Let the companies who have been working this long on the system continue to operate it, rather than restrict them so newcomers can get a chance.

    Um. The AT&T that existed pre-split and the "Baby Bells" that existed after the split and what remains of them today are all very different things. Hirings, firings, retirements, re-orgs, restructures, purchases, sell-offs ... any perceived continuity is mostly illusionary.

  • ...with the ma-bell, it was *impossible* for there to even BE any competition...

    Unix is what it is today because of competition.

    This may be the funniest unintentional juxtaposition I've ever seen on /. You realize, of course, that Unix wouldn't be what it is today without Bell Labs. One of the reasons that Unix was originally distributed free of charge was because AT&T was prohibited from charging for non-phone services, because it was ... wait for it ... a monopoly!

    I agree with you about competition and all, but maybe you shouldn't use a product created under one of the world's largest monopolies as an example.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • According to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the clecs and dsl providers can have the local bells do certain work, such as laying copper and setting up equipment in a CO, at cost. Many of the CLECS who provide phone access don't have it as bad as the DSL providers. "Cost" is closer to the true cost than the "cost" for the DSL providers. I'm sure that the bells make lots of money off the DSL providers whom they are legally bound to serve at "cost".

    However, the bells are quite good at organizing. In the case of the DSL providers, the bells organize confusion. For DSL providers and their customers, this means unpredictable setup times, long waits for service, etc.

    The "cost" for DSL providers is higher than it should be. The DSL providers incur at least two major costs. One, the price per circuit provided to the customer. This price includes the price for certain guarantees made by the RBOC in regards to service. Two, bad service from the RBOC. The DSL provider can't do most of his own work on the line. He must wait for the RBOC.

    In addition to these problems, all legacy Telcos work on a strange finger-pointing system where the end result is that the customer doesn't find out exactly what was wrong after a problem was resolved. What's worse, the immediate customer(CLEC or DSL provider) will not be provided any method for preventing the problem in the future. The infrastructure is not there, so the CLEC or DSL provider pays for the RBOC's inefficiency and infrastructure problems as part of "cost" associated with the circuit.

    To quote one RBOC worker I spoke with personally, "CLECS are the enemy." So even on a personal level, at least one RBOC worker will do what he can to keep his company going, while providing minimal services required to the CLEC.

    I hope this sheds some light.

  • Zeros! If only! We haven't gotten arabic numerals yet, and have no concept of "0".

    Sheesh, these spoiled kids!...

  • No. Even in one area five is too small a number. Five is a small enough number that implicit conspiracies are possible (though those tend to collapse with great regularity) which drives up prices, though not as much as a monopoly would.

    There should be at least 10 players in any are, and that few only if there are outsiders attempting to enter. Otherwise around 20 are needed for good market effects. If there aren't good benefits to large organizations, then even more are better. If there are only 10, and not outside competition, then government regulation starts to become necessary, with the need increasing as the number of players declines.

    Note: As you've probably guessed, these numbers are "picked out of a hat". They will vary from endeavor to endeavor, depending on things like capital requirements, specialized knowledge, and other barriers to entry. A very easily entered field might be able to get by with only 5 contenders. Another factor is the degree of perceived necessity for the product. A totally frivolous product can even get by with just a monopoly without distoring the market. Who cares that only one company can make Furby(tm)s? (Well, kids do, and the parents of those kids. But the parents don't perceive it as a necessity, and the kids are buying, so that doesn't result in a gross market distortion.)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • >I dont think there is anything we can really do though. Anyone have any ideas?

    Write your congressperson!

    I cannot stress this enough! Do it quickly, too, Tauzin is pushing this bill through quickly in an effort to get it through before rightful opposition can build up.

    Better yes, call your congressperson, particularly in the house as that is where this bill currently is. Call your senators as well, just to be sure.

    Let me reiterate what others have said about the effect of this bill (sorry I don't have a link to the actual text handy...easy to find at

    - This bill will eliminate the requirement that ILECs sell unbundled network elements (UNEs) to CLEC, which basically puts CLECs out of business.
    - This bill will eliminate the requirement that ILECs sell wholesale access to ISPs to access their broadband networks, which basically puts independent ISPs out of business.
    - This bill will eliminate state, and much of the federal, regulatory powers over ILECs broadband services.

    Take these three effects together and what do you get? A single, ISP is all that is available to you for DSL, and no way to keep the rates in check, meaning that before long, DSL prices will skyrocket.

    Head Network Administrator - IgLou Internet Services, Inc.
  • by igjeff ( 15314 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:54AM (#264749)
    1) standards != monopolies
    2) The monopoly of Ma Bell was broken up...into a bunch of other monopolies with limited geographic scope, the monopoly situation still existed, and as you pointed out, local service cost shot through the roof. In long distance, which was opened to effective competition, you've seen a decrease in cost, as you pointed out.

    You just proved that monopolies *do* cause problems, and that open monopoly scenarios to competition *does* lower cost and improve service.

    Head Network Administrator - IgLou Internet Services, Inc.
  • What about ISDN? Oh sure, it gets a bad rap for whatever reasons, but most places offer it, and depending on the tarriff situation where you live, it could be the answer. It is plenty fast enough for me. Sure, I probably wouldn't want to be downloading new Linux bistro ISOs, but for most stuff, 128 kps is just fine. I don't have to pay by the minute where I live, which makes it more economical. If you have to pay by the minute, I suppose that is another story. Cost is only slightly higher (maybe $10-$15/month) than the cost to have two separate analogue lines (one for phone, one for computer access) which is the right comparison since ISDN gives you two lines and if you have two data line up, your router drops one for incoming calls. And with the router dialling on demand and with connections within seconds, it is like always-on. Only drawback is dynamic IP, so it is hard to run servers.
  • Unfortunatley for them, the CLEC's were smarter than the LD companies and signed up huge numbers of ISP's. Suddenly the RBOC's were paying $2 billion per year to competitors. They didn't like this one bit so they just decided to stop paying. The CLEC's were forced to sue, and more than five years after the Telecom Act, the RBOC's still are trying to get out of paying. And they finally found someone who will help them out. The FCC has basically adopted a plan that will end reciprocal compensation - but only for ISP traffic, the only kind CLEC's really benefited from - after a two year transition period.

    Do you have any reference for this new FCC policy? I've heard my ISP works under a situation like you describe. They are a great ISP and I fear for them if some FCC policy kills their business model.

  • ...will they even actually be supplying wideband access? Or continuing to live off their monopoly & forcing out any competing technology... Good God, are the cable companies really our only hope? Ouch.
  • This is a worthwhile discussion either way, but I'd like to add that I think that it is highly unlikely that the bill mentioned in the article will pass through Congress. First, the FCC objects. Second, the bill contravenes the policy goals of the Telecommuncations Act of 1996 (pro-competitive deregulation), and would represent a major shift in Federal policy which most policymakers are probably not ready to make. Universal service is an important Federal communications goal, but this bill is anachronistic in the current regulatory system; it represents the "old-fashioned," monopolistic way of doing things. So striking a change is not likely, not at this stage.

    The question is still wide open, of course, whether the goals of the 1996 Act are being achieved and whether there are better ways of structuring network control that we could use to achieve them.

  • You have ones! We have to make do with zeroes!


  • 64kb/s doesn't really seem like alot to me, even if it is per socket. My favorite use for my link is to stream MP3s to myself at work. 64kb wouldn't be nearly enough for something like that, though I agree that it is fine for a website that isn't too image heavy.

    Before Northpoint tanked, I was getting 768kb/s SDSL from Verio (one of the most pleasant ISPs I've worked with, btw) for $50/mo. Between the MP3s, a large Freenet node, and a modest website, I kept the link nearly saturated 24/7 without a single complaint.

    Granted, I was probably costing them more than I was paying, but it was nice while it lasted.
  • This may seem like a technicality, but as Internet access gradually becomes more important than long-distance, the baby bells have carved themselves out a very profitable niche-- and don't expect Congress to enact any new regulations anytime in the next 20 years.

    Ah, another "Mountain Dew Monitor Moment" (MDMM). Why on earth would you expect no congressional action in the next 20 years? I think it will soon become clear that the whole communications landscape has changed, which means that there will be a new (or different than expected) set of winners and losers, and both groups, as usual, have every incentive to try and manipulate the legislative and regulatory climate to strengthen their interests. Now, it might not be an easy matter to get any particular bill passed, but I can't really go with any prediction that there will be no change in the laws or regulations governing communications.

  • No, the two do not necessarily go together. It follows that companies that provide good service will attract business away from those who don't.

    The issue is that, with the ma-bell, it was *impossible* for there to even BE any competition. They had a legal, government-enforced monopoly. That means that even if someone *has* a high-quality, good alternative way of using the system, they can't.

    Unix is what it is today because of competition.
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @05:33AM (#264758)
    Because, that infrastructure is granted to them by the public; right of ways and such. It is because of regulation that they were *allowed* to run the cable in the first place. They are, in effect, entrusted with the wired infrastructure in a city. They pay to maintain it, but are also permitted to make profits off it within limits.

    Phone lines are not what was limited to 56k; voice circuits were (and still are) limited to 56k. DSL uses more bandwidth (in the analog sense) than a voice filter will pass.
  • The article mentioned that Sprint is held by a Bell, thought I hadn't heard that.

    Re-read the article. That's a prediction of what might happen in the future. Nothing to do with reality now. If Sprint had been bought by a Bell, I'd probably have noticed, as I work for Sprint.
  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @04:49AM (#264760)
    that there are only five providers. It bothers me that there is only one provider in my area. Five is plenty enough if there is actual competition. In fact, five is possibly better than 500 since is allows efficiency of the network effects. But what we have now is more realistically classified as 1 provider since I can't call up PacBell and get service from them here in NC.

  • Actually if each side was funded equally the competion would be fairer. If a callenger can spend as little as 50% of the money the incumbent can he is likely to upset the incumbent. The reason why this hasn't been born out in the recent years, is after the 1974 the system left incumbents with a lot more room to raise money (i.e they can do it throught their term). The fact is even more acute since TV time is really needed to win an election, and TV time costs orders of magnatude higher than radio or news paper. TV just wasn't that important in 1974. Name recongition doesn't count for squat when most people can't even remember their sentor or reps names, until an election comes up and there on TV every day.

    The McCain/Fiengold bill is a start, but it is not enough. The campaigns must be payed for by public financing with free TV time and not allow outside contributions of hard or soft money. Outside money just stifles the debate. Ask your self why did GWBush not accept public money during the primaries? Because if he did have spending limits he would of been beaten senseless by McCain who could of spent just as much as he did.
  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @05:59AM (#264762) Homepage
    Businesses should not artificialy restricted through government intervention, to do so is in violation of the US Constitution and highly un-American. ... Six individual "Baby Bells" is almost too much choice for the consumer anyway.

    Dismantling monopolies is both constitutional and pro-competition. Read some antitrust history and law to temper your kneejerk libertarianism and neo-McCarthyism.

    It also might be a good idea to learn something about the industry at issue before commenting. The "Baby Bells" are _regional monopolies_! The only "choice" of local telecomm provisioning that a consumer has in the US is where to live.

  • The interesting thing about the article was how much criticism the Tauzin-Dingell bill was getting from other members of Congress. In fact, the article noted that the bill talked about looks unlikely to pass because of concerns from other members. I think that's a lot different from what the Slashdot story implied.

    FWIW, there are strong studies showing that politicians vote the same way when they aren't getting money any more. So, do politicians supports interests that support them, or is it the other way around? (And does that matter.)

  • Only 5 companies providing high-speed internet access? Ok, I could cope with that. It's not zero competion. As long as they did it right.

    But, it'll be AT&T (no dream) and the mini-bells (may all the little gods protect us).

    A friend of mine is a Verizon (NET+NYNEX+Bell Atlantic) DSL customer. He has huge flakiness problems with the line, and has been dealing with their customer support drones for months. They even transfered his ticket to a 2nd level support engineer whose response was "oh, check to make sure you haven't done something stupid with your regular phone line. I'll go ahead and close the ticket."

    No, there must be stronger competition than there is today. I don't know what the right solution is. Some advocate nationalizing the wires and leasing it back to multiple local providers, but I don't think that would make things any better, just more beaurecratic. Perhaps fedral grants to companies that want to lay their own wire? Or, even a loosening of the wireless provisions....

    I fear the future of home Internet access. It's only going to get more flaky and more restrictive. Sigh.
  • The goverment dictating policy directly to a business at all levels is Fascism...Communists would provide the service and dictate to you the service the state provided you. Both systems suck.
    Capitalism is where big business dictates to government what policies are, which sucks even more.

    Why? Because when the government proposes having higher levels arsenic in the water and smog in the air to appease big business even though the average person wants cleaner air and water...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • Businesses should not artificialy restricted through government intervention

    Oh, absolutely. By all means, take away the Baby Bells' government-guarateed right-of-way monopolies.

  • Judging from the examples listed in Interactive Week [], Tauzin would seem to be the best Congressman money can buy....
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @05:10AM (#264768)
    why should they allow companies like Covad to use their infrastructure to compete with them?

    Because it's the price for getting a legal monopoly to run the customer phone line. It would be fine with me if they were divested of both the mandate and the monopoly, but to let them dump the former and keep the latter would be gross government favoritism.

  • Mindspring and Earthlink need access to Bell equipment to allow high speed access (Generally through a wide area carrier such as Covad). If the Bells restrictions are removed and they are allowed to do what they want, the first thing they will do is disallow competing companies access to their equipment, or bump up the price to something ridiculuous. Then it doesn't matter what the customer wants, Earthlink simply won't have access to give it to them.
  • > has gobs of dialups and a merged MSN/ELNK would no longer have to pay through the nose to Worldcom for access to them

    Bad form to follow-up to my own post, but I should clarify something here, as I left that statement totally unexplained, and it really deserves some discussion of its own.

    I believe (based on the influx of spam I got last summer before they blocked port 25) that is the largest user of (Worldcom) POPs in the US. In fact, I'd wager that the vast majority of MSN's subscribers use POPs exclusively. Why? Because was 90% of outbound spam, and "one major reseller" consistently refused to block port 25. I believe that "one major reseller" was by process of elimination - nobody else is big enough.

    If MSN really does have 4-5M users on dialups (which is my speculation as outlined above), it's reasonable to assume they helped Worldcom build out all that extra capacity, and got a much better deal on the lease of those POPs than the Earthlink/Mindspring/OneMain/Netcom borgcube, which leases POPs from everywhere as a result of it's growth-by-acquisition strategy.

    Thus my belief that the heavy presence of POPs within implies a cost savings in the event that they take over ELNK. It'd probably suck to be an Earthlink/Mindspring customer under this scenario, but since when did that matter? ;-)

    Disclosure: This is all speculation on my part. I own a few shares of Earthpink, just in case it all comes true. After all, I might as well make some money off it if I have to switch ISPs the day after the takeover's announced.

  • > This may also play into MSN's decision not to continue providing DSL after Northpoint went tits-up. If MSN wants to buy ELNK, they'll have a DSL solution for their customers within four months, so why bother rushing?

    Of course, six hours ago [], MSN teamped up with Qwest to provide DSL for, which kinda puts a damper on that theory.

    "So ah could, ah say, ah could be wrong, y'know!"
    - Foghorn Leghorn

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @07:39AM (#264772)
    > Mindspring and Earthlink merged last year into one conpany, Earthlink. Sprint is a part owner of Earthlink, and has a contractual option (which it is not required to exercise) to purchase the remaining portion of Earthlink.

    ...and Sprint and Earthlink then decided to terminate [] this option this February.

    Basically, in September 2001, Sprint will no longer have the right to acquire ELNK.

    Also, a couple of days ago, Sprint filed with the SEC to sell about 10% of ELNK stock, which would leave them with a 17% stake.

    All of this adds up to ELNK being a takeover target. Speculation is that the acquiring company will be MSFT (Yes,, because has gobs of dialups and a merged MSN/ELNK would no longer have to pay through the nose to Worldcom for access to them. And a merged MSN/Earthlink would have about 10M subscribers, which would put it in the same league as AOL for the ultimate showdown.

    This may also play into MSN's decision not to continue providing DSL after Northpoint went tits-up. If MSN wants to buy ELNK, they'll have a DSL solution for their customers within four months, so why bother rushing?

    All that aside, it doesn't change the fact that neither MSN, ELNK, nor MSPG (the old Mindspring) were phone providers. All are subject to the whims of the local ILEC or CLEC when it comes to DSL installation. And when the CLECs go *kaboom*, the DSL subscribers will be fux0red unless the ISP has another provider lined up.

    It's a good time to be an ILEC. The CLECs got billions in capital from issuing bonds based on the value of their stock, which is how they built out the network. Then the CLECs got fux0red by the ILECs.

    Perhaps the best example of said fux0ring would be a story I read about someone trying to get "Earthlink DSL", which was provided in his area through Covad (a CLEC). No dice, the equipment wasn't there, and the local phone company (i.e. ILEC) "wouldn't be able" to install it for a week. The customer cancelled his Earthlink contract and "decided" to get his DSL through his local phone company. The truck was there in two days and the equipment was installed. Funny, that.

    The customer then told the ILEC to go screw itself, cancelled the DSL with the phone company, and signed back up with Covad through Earthlink. Since the phone company had already installed the equipment, he got his link up within the week.

    Anyways - 99% of customers won't go to those lengths, and will just go with the ILEC for their DSL. The CLEC starves for cash, the interest on the bonds piles up, and finally the creditors come a-calling. One more dead CLEC, with assets available to the ILEC at pennies on the dollar.

    The cheapest way to build a network is to let the other guy build the network, go tits-up, and pick it off his carcass.

    You can always spot the pioneers - they're the ones with the arrows in their backs.

  • I do mind- how much easier is it to get five ISPs to hop into bed with systems like Carnivore than possibly hundreds??
  • ...I recall this being the prediction back in 1998 -- as well as hearing that the Internet would collapse by 1999, then by 2000, then by 2001...
  • I think we might have to get used to the fact that net access is going to become like a standard utility. It's just becoming so much a part of the regular infrastructure of our system that it must be regulated into at least an oligarcy where it can be most efficiently maintained and upgraded. I don't think (although I'm no economist) that treating it like, say, the national highway system where state contractors bid to maintain or refurbish a particular stretch of road will work only because it's not exactly gravel and cement we're talking about here. Although incorporating it into gov't funding might not be a bad idea, especially where access for schools is concerned. Or maybe the whole privatization idea is best. The most glaring problem with this situation is that of privacy/anonymity, and for a moment lets forget any advancements in encryption because somehow I don't think we're ever really going to be able to hide what they're doing. Anyway, I just don't think we're going to be able to stop the overall, national (and undoubtedly global) net structure from becoming something governed by some form of corporate/gov't relationship. Let's just work with the other people within those domains to make sure that it gets built with liberty in mind.
  • At least you have 56K modems! In my area, we have to use tin cans and string, and I have to write down the 1's and 0's on a piece of cardboard, strip off the start & stop bits, and convert to ASCII before I can read the postings. And it takes a helluva long time to post a message like this.
  • First let me qualify what I say below: The sound of a few baby Bells controlling all the access sends chills up and down my spine. I trust them like I trust the oil companies :-P

    That being said...

    I considered getting xDSL from a third party provider until I learned that the third party still has to go through the local baby Bell for the actual wiring to my home. So in the event of something going wrong with the connection (everyone I know who has DSL has gotten screwed in one form or another) the third party has to go to baby Bell to fix whatever it is going wrong with the connection. This easily adds a week or more to resolving line issues.

    I was tempted to cut through the middle man and go with the baby Bell in my area. Until I found out how much their maintenance department sucked.

    I'm waiting for satellite technology to mature before jumping in. (sigh)
  • From Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich:

    "I would note that the FCC's fines for phone companies' violation of the law are up to $100,000 per violation, capped at $1 million," he said, noting that Powell in his recent testimony called those amounts "trivial" to Bells and "the cost of doing business."

    I think Powell and other Republicans grok. I noticed all of the comments in the article against the bill came from Republicans. There are also some Democrats against it as well.

    Hopefully, it will arrive DOA.
    • Covad (a CLEC)
    Excuse me. Covad is not a LEC. That's one of the reasons alot of the DSL providers are failing. They aren't phone companies; they have no established relationship with the existing phone companies; they don't understand the "creeping mud" mindset of most telcos.

    As it was with dialup some years ago, "the only way to make money in this business is to be the phone company." With DSL, that's unquestionably true -- who owns the physical wire? (the "baby bell")
  • Yea, you know it's bad when they introduce him as the "Representative from the Great State of BellSouth"...

  • I had the same trouble with Northpoint. I've had better results with both Covad and Rhythms.

    But here's what I don't get. In the next few years, IPv6 is going to be standardized and we're probably going to see 802.11b style wireless performance at 100Mb. What's to stop some enterprising people from creating secure wireless networks? IPv6 QoS features are going to let you throttle traffic down to WAN speeds and allow everybody enough bandwidth to do their surfing and you won't have to have right of ways negotiated or licenses to transmit approved. So you have to put up hardpoints every 10 houses, so what? It's much cheaper than tearing up roads and as long as you start your cloud near a long distance carrier POP, you don't even need to touch the local bell.

  • We may not like monopolies but they serve a purpose. If there were many phone companies (and at one time there were) you might have needed several phones to call anyone. With only one system in place things work better. That's the idea of a public utility. In exchange for their monopoly the baby bells have to surrender to some regulation. That's the theory anyway.

    So they have to provide some access to the last mile of copper for other network companies to provide DSL service. The system CAN work, it did seem to work here as I was quickly able to get DSL service from Telocity over Bell South's lines. I used to have flashcom over covad. That service took about the same amount of time to set up as telocity did.

    So why did flashcom go bust? I'm probably not the only person to have NEVER received a bill from them for service. I may be one of the few who actually went out of their way to obtain a bill and pay for the service. (How many people would hang on hold for an hour to talk to the billing department?) I hope that Telocity will bill me, or charge my credit card for the service. If their accounts receivable department does their job they might have enough positive cash flow to survive. If you don't collect from your customers you will end up in bankruptcy court. Flashcom died because they set up their network before their business inferstructure. BASSACKWARDS way to run a business.

    Why did Northpoint go bust? Maybe from doing business with Flashcomm and other clueless ISP's!
    They might have survived if they sold their product directly. That appears to what Telocity is doing in most cases, though they also partner with some backbone providers in some areas. They were using northpoint to reach some of their customers, I think they are providing the network directly in my area over Bell South's wires.
  • Nothing wrong with a monopoly? Excuse me while I gag uncontrollably. Let's see other words for a monopoly. Dictatorship, Microsoft, IBM (pre-PC) ATT in the 60's and 70's (Yes virginaia they did charge you for EACH AND EVERY handset in your house.) Standard Oil comes to mind. Controlling everything from well to pump. The 1920's version that is. And what did ATT learn from all that. Simple split your company up. Create a new company and then have it slowly buy up all the pieces of your old one. How do you spell ATT with a 21st century twist? SBC eyup. They now own almost all of the old baby bells. (I believe the count is PacBell SouthWest Bell, Ameritech, Southern Bell, and Atlantic Bell, ) Dang sure sounds like a monopoly to me Gomer!. Want to know what it's like when only one player is controlling the entire game? Then please go to and see what my friend is going through [],as well as follow the links to other poor souls story's. I'm sorry but this does worry the heck out of me for sure. What a combo SBC + D.C. = you get screwed.

  • I stand corrected thanks for the info. Also thanks for Borged love the concept it creates. *grin*
  • The regional bells only have dominance for one reason. DSL like any utility requiring infrastructure is a regional game. Covad and the late NorthPoint attempted to national with their service. That's like starting a nation-wide plumming service. While these large DSL providers are struggling, the smaller, local DSL providers are having a boom time. Nobody likes the phone company. Nobody wants to work for the phone company either. This in the end will give the smaller regional DSL providers a competative advantage over the bells. They will be able to provide infinitely better service than the phone company will ever be able to. However, trying to scale such a service to a national (or international) level will dismantel that strategic advantage.
  • I found a comment in one of the articles about AOL/Time Warner providing many services and seeking to provide phone service an interesting one. It would mean that the Bells have a competitor in AOL/TW, one with actual cable.

    I know many here loath AOL for the easy access to the internet they provide to the masses but it serves a niche. Their slogan, "So easy (simple) to use, no wonder it's #1" is pretty much right on. Many people can't be bothered to program their VCRs much less go through a great deal of hassle to obtain what is still a luxury to most, internet access. If there were a single point of service that provided all your telecom needs: television, digital radio, high speed internet access, voice service, and it were simple to use. People would use it, especially if it were cost competitve. Right now I pay almost $50 a month for a phone that serves the main purpose of allowing telemarketers to call me, add another $40 to $50 for cable and that's a $100 per month for two services. I currently don't pay for cable so I don't know what the rates are and I haven't ever subscribed to digital television but something tells me that amount would increase.

    AOL and ATT are attempting to position themselves to be that sole provider. Good, that means there will be some sort of competition. Currently there is little competition at the local level, sure there are a small number of Bell companies providing service, but the local one has a monopoly. Since any competitors will be forced by the almost natural monopoly the cable companies have to use the existing infrastructure, their service will suffer. Who do you think the cable companies are going to service first, their customers or a competitors?

    I do find it interesting that we are starting this century in a similar manner to the last one. There were huge monopolies for the economic engines of the time then, and there are burgeoning monopolies for the current economic engines now. I guess we didn't learn the last time. Monopolies aren't all bad. When they are used to extort higher prices and shoddy goods or service on the consumer, that's when they are a problem.
  • by Angelwrath ( 125723 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @07:13AM (#264801)
    In truth, regardless of whether Congress is furthering the re-monopolization of the telecom infrastructure or not, that's how it's going to evolve anyway.

    Maintaining wireline infrastructure is prohibitively expensive, and the costs are simply too high to support alternative, smaller scale competitors like the CLECs.

    Covad, NorthPoint, e.Spire, whoever... they tried to compete with telecom companies by lowering prices, and yet using the same unbundled loops and last-mile infrastructure, and experiencing the same last-mile costs.

    That is not a sustainable business model.

    The reality of the situation is that the costs involved in building out voice and data services are too high to support competition. The existing infrastructure composed of millions of miles of copper wiring to houses and businesses is too costly for upstarts to replace with either new copper or fiber.

    The ROI on network infrastructure build-out requires too much time for non-incumbent providers to break even, meaning that only the incumbents that have been recovering costs on the existing infrastructure for decades are the only companies that have actually seen positive returns on it, and they're the only companies that can survive long enough to see ROI on new infrastructure build-out.

    That's the reality of the telecom infrastructure folks. Wireline infrastructure involves massive expenditures that can only be absorbed by the companies that originally had heavy government funding to install the infrastructure in the first place. Companies that have to go it alone, laying down fiber to the curb or home or office, or buying unbundled loops from the ILECs, cannot recover their costs.

    The only infrastructures that will actually sustain new competition are the wireless infrastructures: 3G, MMDS / LMDS, wireless optical, and maybe satellite broadband. Wireline competition isn't going to continue much longer.

    Conclusion: there will be competition, but don't assume or expect or demand competition in the form of DSL and Cable and Optical Ethernet and other wireline broadband standards.

    Another alternative avenue for competition is the ILECs moving into new territory, competing against other ILECs. That has already happened quite a bit, with some of the RBOCs gaining CLEC status and having an almost nation-wide presence (for the US and Canada and some of Europe anyway).

    Cheers and wireless.
  • People favoring "competition" over good service. The two do not necessarily go together. What really annoys me is radio ads in my area (MD, just north of DC), that talk about how the evil Verizon is monopolizing the phone and internet access. They claim that Verizon will do exactly what the power companies did to California. What's really funny is their quote: "Have you noticed the phone service lately?" Yeah, seems to work just fine thanks.

    People who are anti Baby Bells (same people who were anti AT&T before it split), don't get it. The regular /. rant is that AT&T used it's monopoly to stifle innovation, made it horrible for everyone, etc. When AT&T had a monopoly, you used to rent your phone from the phone company. It was an inexpensive fee. The phones were high quality and would last for a decade. Now you buy your own phone, they're cheap and they'll last for two years if you're lucky. This is just one example. The phone system is like Unix, the reason it's still around today is that it works. Let the companies who have been working this long on the system continue to operate it, rather than restrict them so newcomers can get a chance.

  • Great conspiricy theory, but it (like most gran conspiricy theories) ignores one fact. The federal government is nnot some huge well oiled machine that takes actions with a with unitary goals in mind. It is a huge behemoth with thousands of agaencies and millions of people all trying to make themselves or their department look like the most important thing in Washington. Most of these people never talk to each other, and a lot of the ones that do have to talk to each other don't like each other. Agencies of the executive answer to the president, but often do things that individual presidents don't know about and may well disapprove of. The level of collution you speak of between n agency of the executive, and the legislature is not likely, the FBI can barly get congress to accept that carnivore is a moderatly good idea... They certainly aren't going to get them to pass laws for the purpose of indirectly helping them implement the system maybe six or seven years down the line.

  • Yah yah, stop the flames already, no no, wait to hit submit, hear me out first! PPLLLEASE! Don't flame me yet, havn't even started the message!

    Ok then. . . .


    I hate big business just as much as the next guy. Hell, I hate big business ALOT more then most people, but when it comes to large things like this, err, aren't major nationwide expensive highly technical cutting edge thingies something that business's could actualy become good at?

    Sure sure, so they fucked us over before, but remember what happened to them? I'm sure they do, and I'm sure that the FCC remembers also. Hell, the FCC _IS_ keeping an eye on these companies (remember how long the Time Warner/AOL merger took to get authorized? Hell, either someone fell asleep or they where reviewing ALOT of paper work, granted, probebly the eariler, but. . . . ::grins::). Companies now know to be watchfull, and that yes indeed, consumer backlash CAN fuck them over seriously. Hell, ya piss enough people off and you won't even be able to enforce any unfair laws that you do manage to enact (::COUGH:: microsoft ::COUGH:: Hell, I know city sheriffs that pirate software, hehe ::Grins::)

    Also, case in point for broadband. AT&T@Home. They rock, period. Ok, so AT&T does own me 50 ways to sunday (telephone, cable, AND internet, so if their network goes down then I'm basicaly fucked heh) but their prices aren't that bad (err, ok, so there really friggin high for the cable, but hell, we get a shitpot load of channels, and great service.) and the internet service totaly rocks. Unlike some other local @Home providers, ATT (formerly TCI, I liked them MUCH better when they where TCI, TCI was lazy and didn't manage things quite so much, so you actualy ended up with better service because they didn't insert ad's into your online TV guide or such, hehe, AT&T is on the ball, which does translate to any network errors being fixed faster though, so it's defintly a trade off. . . .) has had minimal problems with custumer relations in this area (only a few pissed off custumers who got shafted, most are VERY happy with their new service!) and in fact has actualy been VERY nice about certian area's of the service (IE: Allowing users to use OUTRAGIOUSLY large amounts of bandwidth, 2gig+ a day, etc) and has done all that they can to ensure that, all in all, shit works, hehe.

    Cheap prices too, and they are constantly upgrading their technology.

    By comparison, a small time ISP wouldn't be able to offer the same level of backbone connectivity (I have a direct connection to damn nearly EVERY backbone that passes through my area, and seeing as how I am sitting on top of a GigaPOP, heh, that means damn nearly every backbone this side of the Mississippi and a few that go cross it too ;) and high end network capibilities (can we say ping of 100 to damn near anyplace in the world? I know of many small time DSL users who are gettings pings in the thousands from their mom and pop DSL ISPs) and great prices (mom and pop ISPs have to pay line leasing charges in alot of cases. Why should I pay more to get the line from a 3rd party when I can deal DIRECTLY with the company that LAYED tghe lines to begin with??)

    $40 a month for a 2MegaByte per second internet? I don't care _WHO_ I have to buy it from, as long as he/she doesn't have horns and flames shooting out of their hands. . . .

  • Qwest and Verizon are NOT Baby Bells. The article goes into depth about how AT&T, MCI, Sprint lost out in the local market but doesn't discuss what happened to the real Baby Bells--the ones that resulted from the original breakup of the AT&T Bell System. SBC is the only Baby Bell mentioned in the article that survives as such to my knowledge, though they tried to merge with AT&T a few years back, and come to think of it used to be BellSouth and SouthWestern Bell if I remember correctly.

    First, Qwest. The article actually mentions that Qwest was a startup. They're now one of the major local phone companies becuase they succeeded in BUYING USWest, a Baby Bell. Getting bought out by a startup is usually considered losing, not winning. No comment on the kind of company Qwest is, but regardless they are not a Baby Bell.

    Verizon. Verizon actually is sort-of a Baby Bell, since it was created by a merger between one of the Baby Bells, BellAtlantic, and GTE. GTE is the problem. They've been around as a local carrier about as long as the AT&T Bell System as a COMPETITOR; after the breakup, they were heavily regulated but (unlike AT&T or the Baby Bells) allowed to keep both local and long distance services.

    My experience is mainly with these two companies since they're both active in the Portland, Oregon, market. (Yes, that's right, competition.)

  • by BeardStreet ( 155069 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:15AM (#264810)
    Michael likes to peridiocally blame the downfall of Covad, Rhythms, and Northpoint on the imcumbent telcos. Damn, his rant is tiring. It's entertaining that when these companies had buckets of cash from their IPOs, and had their trophy CEOs, everyone was predicting the downfall of the RBOCs. Now when their lame business models fail, the telcos get fingered for the reason. These companies got extremely over-enthusiastic about the DSL demand, the price customer would pay, the much-hyped-but-never-proven "plug and play" installations and the optimistic hope of expanding the the copper loop limit past the usual 15Kft requirement. A lot of this optimism was fueled by vaporware from DSL product vendors, and in fact, a lot of these vendors put some serious cash into these carriers to pump them up even more. Oh yeah, the penny market DSL carriers also thought they roll out their services without building a customer service department that could spell "DSL", let alone assist with an installation problem.

    Let it go, Michael.
  • Who cares about DSL or land lines. In many cities (at least in the US)The companies that will be supplying your access will do so with high freq radio. The only time people will want a land line is if they need to go higher then T-1. None of the latency that plages Starband and the others. Easy deployment. And with any type of mobile device, web tablet, note book, hand held ect.... You are always connected to the net. As long as you are with in 30 or so miles of a tower. Even if you are zooming along in a Taxi at say 62MPH. The towers will hand off your connection just like a cell phone.The only draw back is if you have to get the receiver gear for the house. It can cost as much as $600.00 US...
  • It's like a god-damned soap opera. No wonder I despise MBAs, lawyers, and other syncophants.

  • Uh, yeah it is. This guy get fed cash for breakfast, and drinks the bills that go with it. And it's not just him either, or just this bill... I'll give more input after school. Class calls :)

    REAL /.ers only have a karma of 49...
  • Running for office is no longer about trying to change things for the better - it's about recieving payoff to vote for something. That's the problem, pure and simple. The Baby Bells have cash, and know which pockets to stick it into. So long as people of public office are allowed to recieve money to vote (campaign donations), then big companies will be able to pay them however they want. Sure, that's technicallly illegal, but campaign money is pretty much gotten this way.

    REAL /.ers only have a karma of 49...
  • by kstumpf ( 218897 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:13AM (#264828)
    The one thing that worries me is that when you end up with just a few providers, you're more likely to have one provider in your area. When that happens, service gets bad.

    Compare it to cable television. The only option in my area is MediaOne. It's HORRIBLE. There are 99 channels, of which about half are mexican infomercials or japanese game shows. The only cable box they provide doesnt allow blocking channels and wont work with any of my remotes. As soon as Sopranos is done for the season I'm having it cut.

    ANYWAY... the point is that competition encourages providers to provide better service. I currently have Pacific Bell DSL and I'm not really thrilled with it so far.

    Another thing that will happen is installations will take forever. A friend of mine was recently told it will be three months until Pacific Bell can hook up his DSL. Just think how bad it will be with no competition.

  • Unless Mindspring/Earthlink becomes a Baby Bell, that's at least 6. And, M/E has a heck of a lot of mindshare in the southeast...
  • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @04:46AM (#264830) Journal
    >Five years from now, there will be about five
    >companies providing high-speed internet access
    >in the United States.

    This is only referring to DSL. Cable modems are already standardized (DOCSIS though it's not employed in all markets yet) and they are unaffected by the Bell companies. The only thing that cable MSO's rely on is the use of telephone poles for signal distribution, and even then a lot of areas are moving toward buried lines to eliminate that need.
  • Sprint also does own some local assets (just not very many, somehthing like a total of 1MM lines).

    Also, Sprint's local assets were never part of the old Bell System. Therefore, by definition they are not a "Baby Bell"

  • Isn't Mindspring/Earthlink a Sprint venture? The article mentioned that Sprint is held by a Bell, thought I hadn't heard that.
  • Oops, not the same company. Just Earthlink is owned by Sprint. Who has Mindspring?
  • Think yourself you retard. The Baby Bells do not compete in each others' territory, ever. No one gets to 'choose' between Baby Bells, you just get to deal with whoever owns your territory. Given the incumbent's stranglehold on Central Offices and the local loop, they would be fools to try to expand from their territory and compete with another incumbent.

    The Bells were awarded exclusive, monopolistic franchises and rights of way a hundred years ago by the Federal goverment, and therefore should continue to be subject to regulation for receipt of those franchises. Either that, or all competitive local phone companies should have the same priviledges, or landlords/residence owners should be free to charge Verizon and SBC whatever they feel like for use of their riser space (say 40% of revenues?).

    It is not illegal to be a monopoly, just to use that monopolist power to dominate a new business. DSL, remember, is/was a new business (despite the Bell's decade's long use of HDSL to provision T-1 services). There has never been a more boldfaced violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust act than the inumbent Bells' exploitation of their local loop monopoly to extinguish any and all competition in the DSL monopoly. (And don't whine about their having to compete with cable since cable was awarded exclusive franchises as well.)

    Mark my words that the Bells will get what they deserve: a forced divestiture of their own infrastructure. Not in this administration (who's taken huge payola from the Bells), but the next to be sure.
  • by ahamos ( 244446 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @05:11AM (#264838) Homepage
    A few months ago I was sent by Pomeroy Computer Resources to a Rhythms DSL Installer training class. There I learned several things about the way the government cleared the way for companies like Rhythms, Covad, and Northpoint.

    CLEC's (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) were given access to local phone lines in the same manner as new power companies, with the expectation of creating better rates for consumers through competition. ILEC's (Incumbent LEC's), or the Baby Bells, were REQUIRED BY LAW to give the CLEC's access to their equipment and lines to set up shop. Of course, if you were told by Unky Sam to let some stranger use your toilet and kitchen, you'd probably be a little upset, too.

    The newly imposed laws on the Baby Bells required that the CLEC's get access, but the ILEC's were allowed to charge for that access, and since they owned and maintained the actual lines (with the exception of the actual egresses and DSLAM's), they charged (very heavily) for maintenance calls made by CLEC's. We were told, as installers, not to place calls in to have the ILEC perform service on the line if it was at all avoidable, because the cost would out-weigh what Rhythms was getting from the customer.

    So what happened? Northpoint, with all its "venture capital" and "good ideas" tried to face off against Pacific Bell, with all of its established customers, pools of economic resources, and oh yeah, its ability to shut down the entire Northpoint network by flicking a switch. And we, as consumers, are surprised when the Baby Bells win?

    I'm frankly surprised the DSL carriers have lasted as long as they have. I left my position at Pomeroy in January, and two months before that I was told to start looking for other work, as Rhythms was short of cash and was sure to start cutting contracts.

    The original post mentions that 5 major carriers will eventually handle all hi-speed network access, well one other thing I learned in my training class is that Rhythms, Covad, and Northpoint were just connecting services, and that they relied on those same 5 major carriers (Rhythms primarily relied on M/E). Nothing's really changing, just the person who takes your check.
  • The baby bells control the internet? Really. Interesting.

    Now to reply to what was MEANT.

    I for one will be pissed off if Covad goes out of business. I get my DSL from Speakeasy through Covad. I love the Speakeasy TOS that lets me do whatever I choose, including running DNS servers for my website and mail and web servers. Changing to another TOS where almost 100% of them say "You CANNOT RUN SERVERS!!! OR WE WILL BEAT YOU WITH A BIG STICK!" would really piss me off. I already lost Flashcom who were not charging me which was nice.

    I dont think there is anything we can really do though. Anyone have any ideas?


    I love my iBook. I use it to run Linux!
  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @07:00AM (#264842) Journal

    The problem with campaign finance reform is that disproportionately affects challengers for office. Why is this?

    An incumbent has one key advantage over the challenger: he has name recognition. He's a known quantity, due to news coverage, and also due to the fact that some of the advertising for this election was already done in the previous election.

    A challenger, however, must build recognition. The most effective way of doing this has been purchasing television ads, which cost money. The challenger generally needs more money than the incumbent. Thus, any restrictions on fundraising are highly likely to adversely affect challengers more than incumbents.

    This can be born out by asking a question: why would a Congressperson/Senator vote for a bill that restricts them? The simplest explanation is because their opponents are more restricted.

    And there is a statistical basis for this: in 1974, teh first federal campaign finance laws limiting contributions were passed. Since then the rate at which incumbents have been reelected to Congress has increased dramatically.

  • There's nothing inherently wrong with a monopoly.
    A government-instituted monopoly requires making free competition illegal, which spits in the face of property rights and economics.
    Of course, you can't let the monopoly have free reign. It must be regulated in the public interest.
    Because there's nothing better to keep a company in line that's responsible to no one than a government that's responsible to no one.
    The monopoly business gets the advantages of no competition, economy of scale, and a captive customer.

    The public should get the advantages of universal service, higher levels of customer service, lower prices, and stability.

    It's a win-win situation...

    ... unless you're that part of the public that wants to compete in the market, or that part of the public that wants to purchase services from that competition.
    In the telco industry, it would be a generally good thing to allow the Bells to have a monopoly. But regulate hell outta them: force them to provide fiber to all new installations; to provide full and timely customer service; to upgrade switches with the latest technology instead of the antique crap they have in storage; to roll out DSL to every home within the next five years; and regulate the prices they charge.
    If your goal is to utterly ruin Internet service, sure. Ignoring basic economics does not make them disappear. I can say with a high level of certainty that your system would bleed red ink and provide a pathetic level of service (well, at least everyone would be getting crappy service).
    It can be made to work, if it were approached systematically and intelligently.
    Two traits that governments excel at, to be sure.
    Alas, what's going to happen is that competition is going to weed out the weak, and we'll be left with just a few very powerful, very wealthy, very uncontrolled telephone companies that answer to no one but their stockholders.
    Perhaps you'll be unable to make them answer. I'll stop using their services, myself. Why in the world is it a bad thing to weed out the weak?

    Internet access is not a right, damn it. It is a good. To treat it otherwise is to guarantee its misuse.

    Robert Hutchinson

  • What, is Time Warner / AOL just going to go away? Roadrunner is one of the best broadband services in the nation, faster than DSL in most areas (except under a time is hell), and at least around here they're very cool for service. They offer everybody three IPs, but don't bother you if you use more (i've had up to six at once); they only ask that you warn them of what servers you are running and even then don't worry to much unless you start eating BW. My father, who works for TW (but i'm not biased, he's on the CABLE side), says that they only cap users who tend to eat a lot of bandwidth in long stretches -- that "normal" users, like us people with jobs who hit the newsgroups at night and occasionally grab an ISO or three, aren't capped at all. And the fees are chump change compared to like-speed DSL...i've got a line capped at 64kb/s uplink, but that's PER SOCKET, meaning i can pump 256kb/s through it at once easily. My webserver (currently "hosted" in the basement) feeds pages at up to 25 kB/s, and all this bandwidth costs me $45/month; and when I worked my last job we had a deal to get RR for $11/month. A DSL line that was even close to this speed would run in the multihundreds per month. Granted, it would have more reliable speed and so forth, but is that worth the extra money? Not in my book, sister.
  • Yeah, that's the problem with roadrunner...there's good road runner (as available in albany) and then there's bad road runner (available in binghamton). Both our descriptions are correct -- there's a gestapo road runner and a utopian one, and for the record, they both have about equal sign up and return rates and equal bandwidth usage. There's just a lot more leeching going on under the single line, no server RRs. AOL, i'm sure, plans to unite the roadrunners under the same management...and as much as I'd wish it were my roadrunner, i'm sure they'll find some way to make the gestapo version come out on top.
  • Of course, some argue that DSL with Internet access is effectively long-distance, and the bells should have been required to fully open their market before being allowed to become an ISP. Unless the baby bells are limiting themselves solely to providing the lines, they are essentially offering a long-distance service.

    This may seem like a technicality, but as Internet access gradually becomes more important than long-distance, the baby bells have carved themselves out a very profitable niche-- and don't expect Congress to enact any new regulations anytime in the next 20 years.

  • In 1998 (read: 3 years ago, which is about 100 years in 'internet time' heh) I subscribed to @home cable service through my local cableco. It was the first consumer service. No options, no competiton. Then came DSL, thru the local telco, of which there is only one. So for the past several years, I've had *2* choices, and only *1* DSL provider.

    The cable has been reliable 4mbit/1mbit service, which in my mind means that at any given time I've been able to atain and maintain those speeds, AND the connection is on pretty much all the time. (Side note: my speed has never gone down as more people sign up for cable internet.) The DSL service is a tad slower, along the lines of 1mb/128k, but still a reliable, well above dial-up connection. Both services since day 1 have cost $40cdn ($30USD) a month, with either a low ($50) or no installation fee. And the respective modems are included, along with a NIC, all at no charge.

    The point? Both services are offered by monopolies. Excellent service, reasonable price, and most importantly equal access. If you're in a city of over 10,000 in Canada and can't get broadband, I'd like to hear about it.

    I think people in the USA should be a little more concerned with their awful infrastructure and overpopulation, and a bit less concerned about 'evil monopolies'. When done right, monopolies can be a lot better.

    (As an added tidbit, the telco has made a promise of some newer, faster service (10mbit or higher, up AND down) by Q4 2003. Not sure if this is 100% legit or not, have to wait and see.)

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @06:10AM (#264860)
    Disclaimer: I don't work for Qwest, I work for the University of Arizona.

    Even if people like Covad, New Edge, et al die, there will still be compeition in the broadband market. First and foremost, because the phoneline isn't the only way to get high speed to the home. Some of you may recally a crushingly huge company called @home that works with cable providers to pipe broadband down your cable line. In fact, I know more people with cablemodems than any otehr kind of high speed access. Then there are wireless options like Sprtin Broadband. Just put a little dish/attena on your roof and you're golden. So even if the bells gain 100% control over DSL, it won't matter because you'll have other options.

    Also, please remember that it is often in the bell's best interest to have compeition. Why? Simple, because they often aren't so baby any more. In my area our baby bell used to be USWest, however Qwest (you know, the people with lots of fibre) bought them. Well now Qwest has a little problem, they can't sell super high speed lines like T1s and so on in the USWest controlled states until they get some local telco competition in. Well, they want to start selling more lines, so they are working on doing this. If they decided they wanted a monoply on the local/DSL market, that would cost them the super highend market.

    Personally, I think that a large part of the death of the alternate providers is their own damn fault. From what I hear, Covad service leavs a lot to be desired. Here in Tucson, we have things pretty nice, we can get DSL from Qwest, New Edge, Covad and one other, cable from Cox and wireless from Sprint, Gain and 3rd Pipe, so there's plenty of options. Well, of those, Covad DSL sounds like one of the worst. For refrence I pay $75 Qwest for 640/256k buisness class DSL (the same thing is about $50 for residential class). On the face of it, Covad seems like a good deal 1.5/384k DSL for $80-90/month.Ok, fine, but with that you get more or less crap for service. The people that I know complain of outages all the time, like at least once every two months, and sometimes these outages can last in excess of 48 hours. Compare that to my Qwest DSL which has been down roughly 4 total hours in the 20 or so months I've had it. Then there's the issue of speed, apparently often the lines aren't quite good enough, so it doesn't train to full speed. Also, during peak usage times, the ISPs tend to be too loaded to support your full bandwidth, so it drops off. By comparison, if Qwest sells you a line, it will work at that speed. If your lines aren't good enough, they don't sell you a line that fast. Also, by the same token, even during peak times I still get my full 640k (and I know people with 960k lines that get all of that during peak times). Next, there's the issue of hardware. Qwest uses Cisco 678 DSL brouters. Well these things are great, they are real routers and do NAT and the whole 9 yards, plus they can work as a bridge if you ISP does it that way (I don't know any that do). Covad on the other hand gives you a crummy little flowpoint bridge, so generally you have to get your own hardware to do NAT. Finally, there's the ISP issue. With either service you can pick from a bunch of different ISPs. Qwest will more than happily be your ISP if you use their service (they are who I use) and do a real good job of it. All the rest of the Qwest ISPs are Tucson based and, of course, some are good and some are bad. All the Coavd ISPs, on the other hand, are based in other cities. Often you have to go to LA, Denver, or New York before you ever even get off their network and onto their backbone, which can then be several more hops before you get to the backbone of whoever you're trying to get ahold of.

    So, a basic feature comparison of the services looks like this:

    From Covad for $80/month you get ungaurenteed 1.5/384 service that is often flaky, has high pings, 1 IP, and so on.
    From Qwest for $75/month (in the case of teh deal I have) you get gaurenteed 640/256 service that is rock solid, your own /29 of IPs (8 of them), no service restrictions, and so on.

    You can see why I went with Qwest. Generally speaking, most people I know with the $40-50/month 640k Qwest service are a whole lot happier with their DSL than the people who have the 1.5/384 Covad service. This is not to mention that often it takes Covad 45 days or more to get you DSL whereas Qwest is pretty good about doing it in 2 weeks.

    This is why I feel little sympathy for these alternate providers. It seems to me that they are more or less digging their own grave. If they can't offer service that competes with what Qwest does, well they aren't going to find many takers. They mainly got their foothold because back when USWest ran things, their DSL rollout was real half assed so you couldn't get it in 90% of the city. When Qwest took over they revamped it and now you can get it a whole lot more places, and they expand all the time.

    Basically, I think that these companies are going to have to get their shit together and start providing a better quality of service if they want to stay around. While broadband is growing all the time, I still generally find that the people that look at getting it are (huge shocker here :P) power users, not AOL lamers. Well generally speaking these kind of people are like me, and value good service with their broadband. If Covad and crew can't provide that and Qwest can, guess who's going to get the most bussiness. And then, of course, when less tech savvy people ask us about what we recommend for DSL, we'll get them signed up with Qwest too. So if they die of their own incompetence, you won't find me shedding any tears.

  • by aristotle2000 ( 415164 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @04:51AM (#264867) Homepage
    I work closely with SBC in the carrier I work for. There are many reasons why the Bells will be cautious before destroying competitors. THe main reason is long distance. In order for the ILECs to get 271 Relief, the granting of long distance rights in a certain state, they have to prove beyond a doubt that competition is thriving in the local market. SBC had to jump through tons of hoops in order to get that Relief in Texas and Oklahoma. Now, if you drive down I-44 and I-35 from Tulsa to Dallas, you are assualted with something like 15 local phone companies like Birch Telecom and Valor and Gabriel and a host of others. All the Baby Bells want into the long distance market; they are not going to jeopardize that by crushing a DSL provider. Maybe in the future when 271 Relief is long since granted, this may be an issue. For now it is merely posturing.
  • by tk422 ( 446096 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @01:08PM (#264869)

    Is it me or doesn't this create a censorship problem? The fewer the providers of service there are the easier it is for some group/government/company to censor what people see on the net.

    If there comes a time in the near future where broadband access is restricted to just two choices (your cable company/Teleco provider) it seems to me that anyone who wanted to could in theory deny access to certain sites or cut off access to many people at once

    For example, lets say the United States goes to war with Country A, but someone in Country A is posting a website which tells of American soldiers killing women and childen..or is just generally against the US, the Military/government could just lean on the providers to block that site. Or even better for them just cut off the network from the outside world

    Don't think they would do this? Remember the Gulf War? The Media functioned primarily as a propaganda wing of the Defense Department why not the Baby Bells/Cable companies who would probably get something in return for shutting off access

    This just as likely could happen with someone publishing a website detailing the environmental devistation created by a company. They could find themselves misteriously without access or worse blocked from certain providers, and in this cas all you need to do is end up on 3 or 4 block lists and no one in the US could access you.

    One could argue however that people could use proxies to get around the censorship but how many people would actually do that? Not many, and many more wouldn't even know how to do it.

    Maybe that wont happen but I fear we might fast be approaching the day where the Internet becomes subject to the long arm of coporate and government censorship

Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. -- F.M. Hubbard