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The Almighty Buck

AT&T, AOL In Talks To Merge Cable Systems 109

Paintthemoon writes: "The deal of the week: ATT & AOL are in talks to merge their cable systems, with each company owning shares of the other but AOL being in control of the joint venture. Coming on the heels of the AOL-TimeWarner-Amazon announcement, this just shows the further consolidation of broadband & information systems."
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AT&T, AOL In Talks To Merge Cable Systems

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I mean Microsoft just seems to have beaten the US government!

    It's not over yet. The US government hasn't used the military yet. Just send some heavy armor and gunships to Redmond. I'd approve it.

  • ...you arrive at a USA port of entry (such as an international airport) and immediately after stamping your passport, the immigration agent gives you an AOL CD...

  • @Home has been fairly good to me.

    I live in Salem, Oregon, and I have a static IP and I'm pretty sure they don't block ANY in or out ports.

    They said they'd probably switch to DHCP at some point, but that was 6 months ago and no sign of it yet.

    Of course I'll probably still switch to DSL when I move to an area that supports it (only near downtown in Salem).

  • In our area (Northern Virgina) the @home service is pretty much second to none for the local broadbands, but this really isn't saying much. The Roadrunner is quite horrendous and DSL solutions tend to take 6-8 months to get intstalled. Even then they are slow and use PPPoe and don't let you keep a static IP address.

    One thing we had a big problem with: we had a fast ethernet card connected to the cablemodem. As many of you know, autodetection is very unreliable when the other end of the cable is wired down to some speed. As it turns out, the cable modem was using 10 base T half duplex (normal slow ethernet) while our cards were autodetecting full duplex. Once we wired down our card to 10bt half the connection improved about 1000x.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:13AM (#62520) Homepage Journal
    AT&T's "native" ISP is @home - generally considered sucky and clueless by most. The AOL/TW ISP is RoadRunner - who runs a very solid ship by comparison, and is, as far as I can tell, the most homenet/geek friendly cable ISP out there.

    If the two companies merge their cable operations, AOL would certainly be the driver (I hope - the article was already slashdotted when I clicked it - a new speed record for sure!). If so, then @home would probably get the boot and RoadRunner would be the default ISP - a much better situation for the average broadband customer.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • As others have stated, it depends on where you are. My @Home service is excellent: I'm in a rural area, so I get good bandwidth and I've only had a couple of outages in the past year. I have heard some bad stories from RoadRunner customers, however.
  • The statement about having to change regions is incorrect. I live in Miami and we have a choice of either Adelphia (which is the biggest one around here) or AT&T. I believe there actually is a third but I forget who they are. However most people do not realize they have a choice because Adelphia is so large around here but they actually do have a choice.
  • I am really considering the possibilities of Satillite tv. Where I live, we had a mom&pop cable company.

    This mom&pop company was reselling time warner provided cable I believe, then they were bought by another mom/pop.. eventually they got sold to AT&T, and now to Comcast. We still don't have digital cable or cable modems, just basic cable and some "premier channels" such as comedy central, hbo, etc.

    I am hopeing that with the recent purchase by Comcast we will finally get digital cable here, but I'm not placing any bets. I really liked my fiancee's sat.
  • I don't know...MCI/Sprint was under Clinton. The Bush administration, OTOH, will be falling all over themselves to support this.
  • Not only that, but you have to wait 20 seconds between announcing the merger and closing the deal. Lousy frickin' slashcode!

  • I've had @Home in the bay area for about 6 months, since moving to a new apartment meant I couldn't keep DSL. It's been an incredibly frustrating experience, with entire weeks in which we saw downtime for large periods of time every day. Our connectivity still has a tendency to migrate into a 70%-packet loss, 1000ms+ latency state and stay there for a while.

    Not only that, but everyone in the apartment is frustrated by ATT @Home's tendency to treat us like idiots during every stage of our relationship with them, from the initial installation to complaints to customer service.

    I'd switch back to DSL in a heartbeat (now that it's available in my area), except I really can't afford the extra cost to get PacBell's "Enhanced" service, nor do I want to fool around with the evil dynamic-IP PPP-over-Ethernet garbage they give with the Basic service these days.

    Given that @Home needs more funding in order to stay afloat past the end of the year, according to an article yesterday in the San Jose Mercury Times, I wouldn't be surprised at all if their assets were acquired or if ATT switched partners.

  • 1. Meridith Cable (local to Twin Cities)
    2. MediaOne buys local company, cable modem service because MediaOne Express
    3. MediaOne buys out RoadRunner, cable modem service becomes MediaOne RoadRunner
    4. AT&T buys out MediaOne, cable modem service becomes AT&T BroadBand

    And I must say, the service has gotten slightly (gradually) suckier with each buyout. I don't know if the two are related or not, but I'm still basically satisfied despite their lame customer service.

    At least after AOL/TW take over AT&T's cable modem service (if they do anyways), there's no one left really to buy them out.
  • Wow, that would be scary. But, it's a smart business move on AOLs part. They need to migrate from legacy (ala modem) to some kind of high speed connection. More and more AOL users are finding faster alternatives and are just as happy. AOLs hay day of modems are soon to be over.

    The bigger question to me is, now that AOL is acquiring all these internet providers(TWTC, ATT) are they planing on removing themselves as a customer from MCI Worldcoms UU.net, seeing that UUnet provides AOL with just about all their dialup ports and internet connections.

    All your cable, are belong to us.
  • I may be wrong on this (dont' flame me!) but I thought RR was never bought out by Mediaone.

    I believe it was a Road Runner / Cox Communications merger, and a seperate Mediaone / ATT merger.
  • I have a good friend who works for the UU.net. AOL is their largest customer, and they provide both dialup and "backhaul" for AOL. From what I understand, it's ALOT.
  • There are only 744 hours in a 31 day month. (Yes I know you already knew that, just posting for the comparison)
  • I think that it would be great if the government owned the data and TV networks. Then we could have the excellent privacy protections afforded by the FBI, the return on investment of Social Security, the service commitment of the Interior Department, the customer-friendly payment policies of the IRS and the fine management practices of the Senate. I can see my satisfaction going up already.
  • Really no more than already exists. As of now if you want to change cable providers you need to move to a different region. I don't see where it makes much difference to me if the one cable company I can choose from is TW or AT&T or Comcast. They all provide some TV channels, cable modems and poor customer service. The only possible benefit I see coming out of this is that TW's Road Runner has a bit better reputation and somewhat lower prices than AT&T's @home. As long as I don't have to switch to AOL service only from my cable modem I'll be happy.

  • by lizrd ( 69275 ) <adam@NospAm.bump.us> on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:14AM (#62534) Homepage
    The deal with Comcast was an unsolicited offer. As such, it probably didn't do enough to make the big shots at AT&T get a lot of money for doing nothing so they said no thanks. The long and the short of it just seems that the offer was a bit too low and AT&T isn't going to spend a lot of time trying to hammer out a deal since they didn't ask for bids in the first place.

  • by smirkleton ( 69652 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @06:26AM (#62535)
    ...which reminds me. You guys need to replace the Bill Gates borg pic with a Steve Case one.
  • Your forgot Nullsoft [nullsoft.com], and like someone else mentioned, WCW was purchased by WWF. Good list though, nice to have around for reference.
  • <fine print>And, if you don't use it all, you get charged at $100/min</fine print>
  • by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:00AM (#62538) Homepage Journal
    That everybody will get their first 1000 hours of long distance free for the first month!

    Go AT&T!!!

    That's just the way it is

  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:47AM (#62539)
    Currently, @home "looks the other way" when it comes to running mail servers, nameservers, web servers, etc. on their service (even though their rules expressly prohibit this). I wonder what AOL's stance will be in this regard? Will they attempt to "corner the market" by blocking, say, outgoing port 25 traffic, or incoming port 80 traffic?
  • that compares pretty well to viacom's [viacom.com] list.

  • saw this at NYT :
    AOL Time Warner Set to Buy IPC

    it's a 1.64 billion $$$ deal, IPC is a UK magazine publisher.

  • AT&T's "native" ISP is @home - generally considered sucky and clueless by most. The AOL/TW ISP is RoadRunner - who runs a very solid ship by comparison, and is, as far as I can tell, the most homenet/geek friendly cable ISP out there.

    I haven't had any experience with Roadrunner, but I've had @Home in the SF bay area for 2 years. They let me install on a Sun Workstation, and gave me static IP's, which I still have. The only problem I have with them is they can't seem to automatically bill my credit card correctly.

    I'm worried that AOL will force me to DHCP, and some silly client. Geek friendly for me is two static IP's, and leave me alone. Somehow I think AOL won't be able to deliver that.


  • In true Drudge [drudgereport.com] style. This is getting crazy. I think they are just trying to make the world a place where it will be impossible to boycott their products because they are everywhere.

  • by Nastard ( 124180 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @06:11AM (#62544)
    Slow down cowboy!

    The U.S. Government requires you to wait 2 minutes between each monopoly.

    It's been 120 seconds since your last merger!
  • They don't own WCW any more. Why your post of all their brands was modded up, I have no idea.

  • if you replace Disney w/AOL, this article [msn.com] in slate explains why this merger "will benefit consumers".
  • If Only corporate mergers/acquisitions didn't take so long, I'd say in 3 weeks or so we should have: AOL/Time Warner/AT&T/Microsoft/Shell/Pepsi/WTO

    Now, Corporations don't dominate the world, do they? That's ok, Companies like these just swap Board Members, that's all. honest.

  • by mrBlond ( 141708 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:39AM (#62548)
    AOL - Time - Warner - Castle Rock Entertainment - New Line Cinema - Fine Line Features - CompuServe - Netscape - AOL MovieFone - Digital City - MapQuest.com - Spinner.com - The Atlantic Group - Rhino Records - Elektra Entertainment Group - London-Sire Records Inc. - Warner Bros. Records - Warner Music International - Time Life Music - WB Television Network - HBO - Cinemax - Time Warner Sports - CNN - CNN/fn - CNN/SI - CNN Headline News - TBS - TNT - Cartoon Network - Turner Classic Movies - HBO Independent Productions - New Line Television - Turner Original Productions - Warner Brothers Television - Warner Brothers Animation: Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera - Time Warner Cable - Time Life Books - Book-of-the-Month Club (managed by Bertelsmann) - Little, Brown & Co. - Bulfinch Press - Back Bay Books - Warner Books - Oxmoor House - Time Magazine - Life Magazine - Fortune Magazine - Sports Illustrated - Money - People - Entertainment Weekly - In Style - Southern Living - Cooking Light - The Parent Group (Parenting, Baby Talk, Baby on the Way) - This Old House - The Health Publishing Group - Real Simple - Golf Magazine - Popular Science - Ski - Yachting Magazine - DC Comics - MAD Magazine - Atlanta Braves - Atlanta Hawks - Atlanta Thrashers - Turner Sports - World Championship Wrestling - Goodwill Games
    mrBlond (I don't email from Malaysia)
  • This is going to be my only choice for broadand now!AHHHHHH! I am trying to get away from AOL but they keep following me around. AOL...TCI/ATT...WinAMP...NETSCape...Whats next!?
  • Actually, I believe they no longer own WCW. It's been bought by the WWF.
  • There is no way this would get past regulatory approval. If the FTC wouldn't allow MCI/Sprint, I can't see how in the world they would allow the number one and number two cable companies to merge operations. This is precisely the type of deal that the Sherman Antitrust Act was designed to prevent.

    Just remember, this is the same FTC that allowed AOL and TW to merge.

  • Wouldn't it be nice to open your mailbox and find a free cable modem stuffed in there? I'd sure like to grab a handful of them from the huge display box at Office Depot.

  • It started as a small isp called Quantumlink. It mutated into a multi-national conglomerate with links to every form of entertainment, information, and communication outlet known to man. This organization doesnt fear any government and it's only threat is another multi-national corporation.

    Isn't this the setup for a James Bond movie?

    Mad Scientists with too much time on thier hands

  • Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength
    Monopolies offer Choice

    *Blatently stolen from a Tom Tomorrow [thismodernworld.com] cartoon that I can't seem to find right now.*
  • 1984? Is that a book or something?
  • What monopoly?

  • I also forgot to mention another consumer-friendly feature of monopolies:
    • Monopolies usually create network effects -- the benefits of having lots of people using the same product or service. This creates great value for consumers, e.g. a telephone system which connects every user with every other user. People depend on network effects to carry on trade and commerce. Language, currency, weights and measures, time, and other common media make transactions possible. Like phones and roads, digital communications (and software platforms) have become essential gears in the machinery of commerce and therefore in the interests of fairness, they should be owned or at least regulated by government.
  • Cable TV is essential to the economy?

    Absolutely. Do you have any idea what kind of social upheaval we would face if the Cartoon Network were interrupted?

    Well, seriously. I didn't really mean the content, which is 99.9 percent hogwash, but rather the connection; the cable itself. Don't you remember the Emergency Broadcast System? It's essential during civil disasters to contact citizens as quickly as possible so that they can avoid harm. Cable stations (in my area, at least) already do this by broadcasting storm warnings and such.

  • But there are private roads. They usually get built when the gov't isn't willing to fork out the money. Paid for by tolls, plus some profit to the company (though in many cases they revert to the public at some point and the toll booths are removed).

    But even when the roads are "privately owned" the public still demands performance constraints, such as meeting minimum safety standards, and not arbitrarily restricting passage (say, on the basis of race, or whatever). The contracts with these private companies are probably filled with regulations and standards and red tape anyways, as well they should be. You don't just give public property away without some serious guarantees that quality and other public concerns won't be compromised.

    I do think co-ops are a pretty good idea. I believe the city of Tacoma, WA forced some co-op like provisions (free access for libraries and schools, no redlining of certain neighborhoods) on AT&T when it acquired TCI.

    I think co-ops are a very good idea. Another poster mentioned co-ops earlier. I'm not saying that we should give all this power directly to a (perhaps) corrupt government, just that we should not sit idly by while our government is giving away the farm to huge corporations. They're not much better, in a lot of cases, than big governments.

  • excellent privacy protections afforded by the FBI

    The FBI may have saved your skin more times than you know. You should really have a look at your file.

    the return on investment of Social Security

    I don't think Social Security was intended to provide anyone with a return on investment, other than to maintain the value of the fund on an inflation-adjusted basis. What were you expecting? A VA Linux IPO?

    the service commitment of the Interior Department

    I don't really know much about the service committment of the Department of the Interior, but if it's anything like the service committment of my DSL provider (two full days out of every month have been lost to technical failures) they probably deserve whatever rap they've gotten. Just because you're a private company doesn't mean you're immediately service oriented. Have you ever visited the reception area of a towing compound? They don't exactly greet you with smiles...

    the customer-friendly payment policies of the IRS

    Hey, don't bite the hand that feeds you. The IRS collects taxes that enable the government to do what you elected them to do, even if they do it badly or not at all. If that's the case, then go out and get involved in politics and make the system better. Nothing's stopping you from doing that.

    the fine management practices of the Senate

    Once again, I'm not really sure what the in joke is here, but the management practices of the senate cannot be a lot worse than the management practices of Union Carbide at Bhopal. Or those of Royal Dutch Shell, Pfizer, Exxon-Mobil, Adobe, Microsoft, IBM, GE, GM or any other big company you can think of. Good management involves more than just making a profit. That's why we need a force in civil society to balance the immense (albeit sometimes well-earned) power now held by corporations.

  • And the community such a co-op would encompass is who, exactly?

    Check out the co-operatives that undoubtedly exist in your community. There are lots of ways to skin a cat. People always have different interests, motives, backgrounds, vision, but they can find a way to bridge their differences if they each benefit enough from the relationship to make the effort worthwhile. It doesn't always work, much less work perfectly, but neither do the alternatives.

    I'm really unclear on how you would set this up in a way that doesn't amount to a government -- it's going to be too large to be directly representative (remember we're talking about users here, not coders).

    So what if it gets set up in a way that amounts to a government? Am I supposed to unflinchingly agree with you that governments are evil in principle? The problem with this kind of ideological tunnelvision is that in order to support your statement, you have to provide evidence taken from history, which your opponent (should they be as ideologically anaemic as you) can discount as being flawed for one reason or another. The tiresome debates over "Capitalism vs. Communism" fall into this category. Capitalist ideologues say "See, the Soviet Union collapsed -- communism doesn't work" to which the Communist ideologue replies "But the Soviet Union wasn't a true example of communism. It was just a flawed attempt to realize the communist ideal."

    So where does this leave you? With a big headache. Stop thinking in terms of how you can turn the debate into one for which you already know all the lines. Start thinking about solving people's problems in the most efficient way possible, i.e. the way which incurs the least amount of pain, suffering, and loss.

    • Me: If you decide to build a pig barn in the middle of a residential neighborhood, how do you propose to deal with the complaints of your neighbors? With a shotgun?
    • You: No, with lawsuits. Between the redtape beforehand, and the lawsuits afterwards, every significant kernel revision would take 10 years.

    Never mind the fact that it already takes nearly that long (just kidding, Linus). Your suggestion involves lawsuits. My suggestions (might) involve lawsuits. So that leaves only the "redtape beforehand" as the difference between the two. I suggest that a good city planning document can forestall lawsuits and cut red tape at the same time. Since the standards are widely distributed and published (as long as they aren't prohibitively expensive, like ISO standards) you have no excuse not to follow them. Any red tape you have to deal with is probably your own fault.

  • I understand now what you mean by accountable. You mean "customers and workers can get together and force companies to do stuff". Isn't this exactly what safety and environmental standards are supposed to do? Those things are put in place by the government acting on behalf of its citizens. What's the difference between a large segment of the population acting in concert, or the government acting on their behalf? If a large enough segment of the workers or the customers gets it into their head to declar war on somebody, they can do that just the same as a government can.

    As for corporations being 100% accountable, what do you mean? Corporations depend on private property ownership which in turn depends on one of two things: a naturally harmonious populace, or the threat of violence. The government supplies the latter so that companies (and individuals) can maintain their ownership of private property. In return for this protection, Companies (and individuals) must be accountable to the general public as well as to their workers and customers. So not all of what they must be held accountable for is subject to market pressures. And that is what concerns environmental activists and labour activists.

    • Me:What's the difference between a large segment of the population acting in concert, or the government acting on their behalf?
    • You: Very big difference. The former is the direct democracy of the free market. The latter is the supposed representatives supposedly acting on the population's behalf, but all too often acting to increase the power of government instead.

    So what if it's the "direct democracy of the free market". That's just a name; just a bunch of words. The result might end up being the same either way. If the particular government in question happens to have bad people leading it, then that doesn't mean that the idea of government is bad. But what I'm saying doesn't even depend on whether you accept what I say about government. If the end product is the same, why would you care what name I use to describe the entity that brought about the desired end? If you say tomayto and I say tomahto, aren't we talking about the same thing? Doesn't it seem trivial to be making a big deal about the difference?

  • The government can't deliver mail without posting huge losses.

    That's becaue the government is stuck delivering all the mail that people depend on even if it's not profitable. The courier services have taken all the profitable delivery services away, leaving the government with stuff that's bound to be less profitable.

    Fuck off you socialist eurotrash wannabe.

    That really improves your credibility.

  • by Sydney Weidman ( 187981 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @06:20AM (#62565) Homepage
    • As with any service which is essential to the economy, leaving network infrastructure in the hands of private companies doesn't work.
    • Since networks have a negligible marginal cost structure (the cost of adding one user) centralization and concentration bring huge benefits.
    • Therefore, in almost every case, the profit motive works to diminish competition rather than increase it.
    • The bigger you are, the lower your overhead and the greater your profit. Yes, this applies to other businesses, but the marginal cost in manufacturing is much higher. The incentive to form conglomerates isn't as strong.
    • But the corporations driving the media and broadband concentration aren't stupid. They know a good thing when they see one. The benefits of these kind of monopolies (the ones where massive cost savings can be achieved) are huge. Consumers stand to benefit through lower prices.
    • But wait, why would a monopoly lower it's prices? Well, actually, it wouldn't.
    • So there's this dillemna -- monopolies can reduce overhead, which can be good for consumers, but monopolies are very unlikely to pass these cost reductions on to consumers.
    • So what should we do? Either nationalize network infrastructure (like we do with roads) or regulate the private monopolies so that they can only increase prices where such increases are justified by rising input costs.
    • Either way there are probably efficiency trade-offs that would be made, but in the end, if you really want some service to be there for you whether it's profitable or not, you need to think about nationalizing, not privatizing, some parts of the essential infrastructure.
  • by Sydney Weidman ( 187981 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @08:32AM (#62566) Homepage
    You mention software platforms. So you're saying you want the government to own Linux? Uh, which government? And that would be good how?

    Why have such a limited view of ownership? You could create cooperatives (as one previous poster suggested) which would own property that the community required to conduct its business. It would be good because it would prevent any entity from utilizing market power to reduce consumer surplus for its own gain. It doesn't matter so much in manufacturing where network effects aren't quite so strong, but in areas which require common ground, it would enable the lowest possible transaction cost.

    So we have to file a "codebase impact statement" before we can write code? Will there be permits, approved contractors, minimum minority ownership requirements?

    Why not? We put up with these forms of red tape and bureaucracy because even private works such as buildings (which often require municipal approval) make a significant impact on the surrounding area. If you decide to build a pig barn in the middle of a residential neighborhood, how do you propose to deal with the complaints of your neighbors? With a shotgun?

  • AOLTW sold World Championship Wrestling to WWFE Inc. months ago.

    Also, Demolition lost the tag titles.
  • Who in the world was there left to compete with anyway? In most cities, there was always one cable company to begin with, and I seriously doubt that the cable company in Houston, TX has any concern what the cable company in Miami, FL does.
  • I think all of you know that AOL/TW is a large company, created from two slightly smaller companies that had been profitable for quite some time. In short, they know what they are doing, they are professionals, do not try this at home, yadda yadda, void where prohibited, ten cent deposit in Michigan.

    All of you "know" that AT&T is a large company that has been profitable for somewhere in the region of a century. In reality, AT&T has been having some troubles and is trying to "unlock shareholder value" by splitting into 4 companies. One of these, the wireless division, is already a publicly traded company. The Wall Street types beleived that this was the gem of the company, the division most likely to be in a growth industry when all was said and done. These same Wall Street types also think that the cable division is the dog of the group. AT&T assigned it all the debt they could get away with. And as anybody who has AT&T Broadband knows, they suck more than the average cable company. I could tell stories but hey, anecdotes are not data.

    Bottom line, if AOL/TW is stupid enough to take this deal on, then more power to them. That is, assuming that the regulators allow it. I'm just glad I don't own part of it.

  • Remember the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies? The one where the villain is Elliot Carver, the owner of the fictional Carver Media Group?

    Remember what some people said on /. in January 2000 when the AOL/Time-Warner merger was announced: the fictional Carver Media Group with its chilling media power has suddenly become frightening reality. And at the rate things are going, that day is now upon us, especially if AOL Time Warner can buy out AT&T Broadband. (boogle)

    I think what may happen is that we may see a counteroffer from Comcast in conjunction with another major media company (e.g., Disney's name has been bandied about) to match the AOL Time Warner offer for AT&T Broadband.
  • and nationalize the monolithic communication corporation that results when M$ joins the fray, after the coporatism backlash from voters happens.

    And maybe pigs will fly too, although, with genetic engineering, that might not be too long...

  • is to rename the resulting company the "Sirius Cybernetics Corporation". Share and Enjoy.


    Sirius Cybernetics Corporation whose complaints department now covers all the major landmasses of the first three planets in the Sirius Tau Star system.

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes," with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent. Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."

    Bless, you, Doug...

  • Seriously. You think Microsoft is bad?? The clout involved in AOL-Time Warner-AT&T makes Microsoft look like peanuts. Let's take all the major players in phone, cable, broadcasting, and internet...and make them ONE COMPANY. Yay. I'm looking forward to that day.

    Controlling, say, my stupid Operating System is lousy when compared to the amount of control that such a conglomeration could bring to bear. Leveraging my phone, long distance, cable, tv programming, and internet access is a bit more drastic than, say, putting an IE icon on my desktop.

    This is not to say that the MS situation is good... It's just to point out that considering how big a deal the ./ crowd makes of the MS monopoly--that this is even WORSE. Now that's scary.
  • My @home service (resold by comcast ironically) is superior to my Road Runner expierence in every way possible. Granted this cable modem thing is only temporary until Verizon finally cleans up my frickin phone line so I get DSL again. (long story). Road Runner (in Tampa, FL at least) went down at least 4 to 5 times a day. Upload/Download never peaked above 350k . . during the evening it was almost as slower as 128k . . the tech support was awful. @home on the other hand (in a suburb of Philadelphia) . . is running in the 600k range (not DSL . .but better) . . goes down about once a week and I have execellent support and service from the local company. just my two cents . .
  • In Eugene [eugene.or.us], EWEB [eweb.org] (the Eugene Water and Eletric board) recently got permission in a vote to provide telecommunication services. They already had huge amounts of fiber going between substations and thier headquarters.

    Along those lines, EWEB sees the business advantages for a high-speed connection to its customers and thinks that by installing a community-wide, broadband system two objectives could be achieved: The first would be the completion of the customer-utility connection. The second would be the creation of a community-owned system that would be accessible to all citizens and would increase the information transporation capabilities of the community. (from http://www.eweb.org/telecom/index.html)

    I can't wait!

  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @06:08AM (#62577) Homepage Journal
    This deal is as much about saving face for AT&T as it is about market power. AT&T was humiliated when in the face of it's aborted spin-off of it's cable business, it suffered first from market pressures then recieved an unsolicited low-ball bid for that unit. This would be a good deal for AOL-Time-Warner not only because it expands their reach, but they can snap up the asets at bargain prices, since AT&T is desperate to find another suitor other than Comcast to get them out of this situation.


  • I hear about these mega mergers, I imagine a train hauling the pathetic masses crammed in boxcars with the DOJ as the Engineer... dead at the controls from a CD embedded in their head produced by Time-Warner/Disney/MS/AOL/Exxon-Mobil/Nabisco/(ins ert your favorite conglomerate here)

  • No, Microsoft has not beaten the US Government. Despite what the boys in Redmond have told you and the press they lost. And, they lost BIG TIME. They have been found guilty in a US Federal Appeals court of illegaly abusing their monopoly.

    The appeals court decided that since the lower court judge acted as if he may be biased to let another judge decide how to punish Microsoft.

    This is a huge loss for Microsoft.


  • According to the contents of the actual ruling, the legal definition of a monopoly in the US is controlling roughly 70% of the market. But, the real test is whether or not the company has monopoly powers. I.e the ability to force other people to do things based on their control of a market.

    Also, being a monopoly is not illegal as long as you don't use the power of the monopoly to hurt competition. The court ruled that Microsoft is a monopoly and that they did use their monopoly power to hurt competition.

    No matter what you might WANT to think, looking up a definition in a dictionary is no substitute for reading the ruling and seeing how the court used guidance from 100 years of supreme court decisions to come to the conclusions they came to. You have to consider what is happening in the historic context of US monopoly laws.

    Reality is a lot more complex than you seem to want it to be. Get used to it.


  • I started with Comcast about 4-5 months ago. It worked pretty well once they took care of some minor problems (Bad splitter outside my house). Then ATT took over promising improved services, blah,blah,blah. So far all they've done is upgrade the price. Now AOL might take over I can just imagine the "upgrades" they'll add. Higher cost? (after all, they charge $23.90 for dial-up access). Improved services? (probably proprietary software to access the net). Am I worried? Yes. I'm sure glad my employer pays for my broadband or it would be worse...
  • Is AOL the new AT&T?

  • AOL once got a large amount of press for refusing to force users on their IRC network on EfNet to use identd (kind of a useless practice, but also one that had very few ramifications for users' security). Their response right before the boys of Eris Free kicked their asses out of the tontine? "We're AOL, we ARE the internet."

    This statement, bold as it is, was funny then, but mostly ironic now. AOL owned the number one dial up ISP in the world, bought (along with a shitload of cartoon characters and a vast media empire) the number one cable ISP in america, and now they're venturing their tendrils into the number two cable ISP...which also holds a dial up ISP in the top 5.

    The internet, as we're proud to say, is a free entity -- it has no real rules, no real restrictions and no real governing bodies, and anybody who ventures into these usually gets laughed at. But everybody has to connect through the same draconian entity, that freedom lapses. AOL/TW doesn't like you doing anything but web browsing and reading e-mail (they tried a dozen times to shut down the web server I was running, but were tied because I signed a user agreement in 1995 that said they couldn't update their terms and didn't block serving); if it decides to block information across its network, it affectively closes off that information. You already can't swear in an AOL chat room...what if they begin to apply the same filter to web content? You wouldn't be reading this fucking page, that's for sure.

    Normally I think ideas like this are just inane paranoia. But AOL has already integrated censorship into its network, and has not had any real opposition. Market factors don't affect it, becuase there's never a large enough share held by the opposition to hurt the giant. When 40 million people give you $21.95 a month, a thousand saying that they won't if you aren't nicer to them just don't matter to you. For this reason, AOL should be blocked in any way possible from absorbing relatively decent ISPs like AT&T's...even if it means a viscious anti-trust suit.
  • Sorry, but you're just wrong. It might appear that way, but the fact is that (mostly thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [fcc.gov]), control hasn't just failed to diversify, it's shrunk down to ownership by about 5 companies alone. Meaning 5 companies that represent about 95% of the media in the country. It's also not by popularity that they rose to this position, because many services and products people buy are ultimately traced back to these companies, despite the fact that the purchase might've happened at a 'mom and pop' store which doesn't disclose the identity of it's parent company, or is independently owned but *supplied* by one of these 5. For instance, when you buy a book there is a 50% chance that the store and the book can be traced through ownership and suppliers to one of only 2 of those 5 giants. (Some of these statistics come from an old article [michaelmoore.com] by Michael Moore, so hopefully they won't be as unbelievable as they look).

    I think the 1996 act itself said it best,
    "(4) COMPETITOR CONSIDERATION PROHIBITED- In making the determinations specified in paragraph (1) or (2), the Commission shall not consider whether the public interest, convenience, and necessity might be served by the grant of a license to a person other than the renewal applicant.'. "

  • If the two companies merge their cable operations, AOL would certainly be the driver

    Really? Don't count on that-- AT&T's cable operation is significantly bigger than AOLTW's. AT&T already owns a chunk of Time Warner Cable, for that matter (and an even bigger chunk of @Home, which gives them a stake in keeping it alive). I don't see AT&T giving up complete control of anything to AOL.

  • There is no way this would get past regulatory approval. If the FTC wouldn't allow MCI/Sprint, I can't see how in the world they would allow the number one and number two cable companies to merge operations. This is precisely the type of deal that the Sherman Antitrust Act was designed to prevent.
  • A Seattle TV station [komotv.com] is reporting [komotv.com] that the deal between AOL and Amazon leaves a loophole for a "quiet" buyout by AOL.

  • A few things:

    1) Nothing in the US is as big, powerful, or monopolistic as the nation's largest employer, the US government.

    2) They'll all be selling out to Disney, Sony, and/or MicroSoft.

    3) This thing has been going on for well over a century. In fact, of the original business in the Dow Jones index, only one is still there: GE. The rest have been bought out, gone under, etc. This in no way guarantees success.

    4) It may make the odds stiffer, but it certainly doesn't prevent a new company rising in a new niche in the ever-changing business environment. Who, twenty-five years ago, had heard of Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Palm, Swatch, Eddie Bauer, etc etc etc? Corporate congolomerates, by their nature, are inefficient and have a lot of inertia. This inertia leads to opportunities for smaller, more nimble players.

    5) Given the choice of buyout by an American firm or an overseas firm, I'd prefer the American firm. Call me protectionist, jingoistic, xenophobic, etc, but I'm looking at it from a strictly economic viewpoint. I'd rather see that capital generated in my country stay in my country.

    6) There is no point #6.

    7) No pooftahs.

  • Now with all the monopoly that basically fight each others (AOL vs Microsoft) don't you wish they would all cancel out or something.
  • by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:41AM (#62591) Homepage Journal
    I tend to agree with you. As people who read my prior posts might know, I am a pretty happy-go-lucky free trade kinda guy. However, I do not like monopolies for the very reason they were outlawed: they tend to eliminate competition and discourage innovation. Free trade is good, and so is free competition.

    AOL already had the ISP market. Then they took TW cable. The regulators we worried this would prevent other companies from competing. So, the government said AOL-TW had to allow other companies to access their cable lines, sort of like the deal the regulators made when they made AT&T share all their wiring with competitors.

    If you throw in AT&T's cable, you have one huge cable company. Who is left to compete? AOL already has so much of the market. It will be a hard sell for AOL-TW to convince the regulators that getting a bigger share of the market will not tend to make AOL-TW a monopoly or stifle competition.

  • It depends on the region, and who AT&T bought out. In my area it was MediaOne Roadrunner, so when AT&T bought them out it was re-named AT&T Broadband but (AFAIK) the backbone didn't change.
  • Less choice! Yippee! Why don't they just start passing out the soma and spoon feeding us corporate-filtered news and entertainment instead trying to pretend that what they are doing is really in our best interest?
  • I already pay enough and recieve little in the way of service on my cable system. I pay around $60/month and I have had my aliases lost twice and had at least 20 technicians check the cable in the area (after losing signal to my cable modem) and find nothing. Magically one day after calling the head guy over kansas the problem was solved then we moved! Enough of that already my main point is that this will not help the price or quality of the service as they will not have any reason to do so. Maby they will spend more on a trained IT staff (holding breath). I looked at DSL but whould take a speed hit to do so. I think this sucks!

  • Immediately after the merger is completed, work will begin on the giant server/brain at the earths core. Analysts say this centralized brain will enhance efficiency and productivity and most of all profit for AT&TAOLTIMEWARNERDISNEYMSSUPERMEGACORP AT&TAOLTIMEWARNERDISNEYMSSUPERMEGACORP has hired the RIAA to represent the server/brain in the event of copyright infringement...
  • I thought I was getting away from horrible service and crappy support when I went with an AT&T cable modem (which has worked flawlessy with d/l speeds exceeding a T1)... guess it's back to the analog 56k for me? If I were to get a DSL I would have to pick Qwest which is soon going to be MSN. Arrrghhh...
  • As with any service which is essential to the economy, leaving network infrastructure in the hands of private companies doesn't work.

    Cable TV is essential to the economy?


  • - Adobe

    Oh.. wait..

    • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
  • AOL also owns Superman, what is left of Atari, Babylon 5, Larry King Live (or Condit King Live as it is right now). They even have Batman, Kryptonite, and Lex Luthor.

    Probably, at this date, at any given time, 4% of AOL media traffic is devoted to Gary Condit news.

  • Just don't turn your TV to National Geographic Explorer. A lethal combination with AOL-TW-Firestone.
  • AOL has an excellent strategy. Get into as many markets as possible so that if one market crashes, they will have something to fall back on. The problem is, if they get into too many markets, they'll start looking more and more like a monopoly. They are working on becoming Microsoft 2. They are not yet. They are just a big company who is trying to get as many slices of different types of pies as possible. As you can tell, I am not an AOL fan. Nonetheless, AOL is a company to watch out for. Someone is going to get rich off of them and many more will be hurt.
  • What would be even more scarier if Microsoft or the corporate giant IBM stepped in and "merged" with AOLTIMEWARNERAMAZONAT&T and the DOJ did nothing about it. What would be even more scarier is trying to take one big giant breath and having to say MICROSOFTAOLTIMEWARNERAMAZONAT&T without pausing inbetween.
  • Concentration of control over our mass media has intensified. Ownership of most of the major media has been consolidated in fewer and fewer corporate hands, from fifty national and multinational corporations in 1983 to twenty in 1992 ... the power of scattered smaller firms is negligible. They operate in a world shaped by the giants.

    The Media Monopoly ... Ben H. Bagdikian.
  • Why don't they just start passing out the soma and spoon feeding us corporate-filtered news and entertainment instead trying to pretend that what they are doing is really in our best interest?

    Actually 23 huge multi-media corporations were doing just that since 1982. The figure filtered down to approx. 9 media conglomerates in 1992. I think it's probably down to less than 6 now. They own and control the distribution of *news* internationally. In who's best interest?
  • If you firmly believe that nonsense then take a test. Collect a series of newpapers from July 20-23 and show articles here that depict the police violence against peaceful protestors at Genoa Italy. Can't find anyhing? OK find one with substance regarding the G8 or WTO summits (or whatever catch name they're calling it next). Can't find anything substansial?

    Next test... considering you get your news from pop media, try switching channels between all the pop channels. What? It's all the same news? Imagine that!
  • Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength
    Monopolies offer Choice

    *Blatently stolen from a Tom Tomorrow [www.thismodenworld] cartoon that I can't seem to find right now.*

    You mean this one [thismodernworld.com], I believe.
    require 6.0;

  • by octaFish ( 457410 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:12AM (#62607)
    This is the first time one of these American mega-mergers has truly frightened me. I am currently a customer of Rogers Cable in Canada. ATT owns a large share of Rogers (whatever the current rules allow a foreign company to own.)

    Just the thought of AOL owning any part of Rogers doesn't sit well with me. Now, when the contract with @home expires, we can look forward to Rogers@AOL.

    And then, when the CRTC allows for another round of digital TV channels, we can look forward to AOLTV.

    Come to think of it, Rogers also owns the Blue Jays, and Sportsnet too. Start selling tickets now for the 2005 AOLJays.

  • Can you say "mind control"? That's where we'll end up with what will probably eventually become one-source news, one-source technology, one-source access, and who knows, eventually, one-source morality being pushed onto us by where this merger mayhem is going with AOL. Why don't they rename it "Titan", since it'll take another Titan to bring these bunkheads down. If you're a believer, pray, and if not, believe.
  • by Paintthemoon ( 460937 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:42AM (#62609) Homepage
    Actually, such a merger probably would make a difference to you. That's because with the clout that the combined company has, it will be able to dictate what cable channels have access, possibly even what the content on those channels would be. Sure, there's still the 'freedom' to surf through all the channels provided, but with the lowest-common-denominator of mass culture, it'll just continue to be all dreck.

    And I believe the same principle will apply to information systems, as one company has the ability to determine what the prevailing technology will be. This is the underlying principle behind anti-trust legislation in this day and age.

  • Tux can't beat the corps. start buying guns.
  • The PARTICULAR market being discussed the desktop market, not the server market, not the handheld market, etc. It is in this PARTICULAR market that the above poster is claiming MS has a 95% market share. Please remember that most Mac owners use their Mac's in a professional capacity and that the bulk of the Linux market is in servers.

    For ANY OS to make inroads in the home desktop market that OS must be compatible with MS Windows, hence a monopoly.

    Microsoft is in fact a monopoly, this has been proven in a court of law. Do you think all those lawyers and judges don't realize that "words mean something"?
  • Yes I think you are. This diversification you talk about does not, in effect, exist. Let me explain. I'm sure you would count Slashdot as one these "new" media outlets which prove that news and media have become more diversified. However comma space as popular as slashdot is try stopping people on a street one day and see how many people have actually heard of it much less read a thread. Almost all of these people would have heard of and watched CNN or read a Time Magazine Stop posting meaningless numbers in bold print like you know something. You're style is obvious even as an A/C. The "diversified" media you speak of does not have a loud enough voice to be heard over the shout of AOL-TW-ETC.
  • >>Isn't this the setup for a James Bond movie?

    I think so - didn't you see 'Tomorrow Never Dies'?

  • This really seems to fall again into the Last-Mile issue. It always bothered me that Even though I pay the phone/cable company to install a line into my home, on my land, and that I pay them to maintain the line, I don't own it. Shit on me huh? I can't figure out why communites don't form Co-Ops for their phone/cable like some communites do with their electric grid. Makes sense to me. Thats what is so great about Co-Ops. The customers are the owners so the profit motive pretty much goes away and is replaced.It becomes a matter of providing acceptable service for the lowest possible cost. The other good thing here is that co-ops almost never get bought. Sure I'd sell my cheap phone/cable/broadband service to a company out to screw me.
  • by OverDrive33 ( 468610 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2001 @05:24AM (#62615) Homepage Journal
    What bothers me the most about the mega megers, is that it doesn't seem like anyone can stop them. I mean Microsoft just seems to have beaten the US government! Can't you just see these two companies finding some way around the law (is there a law?) just to get their own way!?

    I guess our only hope is a little penguin named Tux.

Wishing without work is like fishing without bait. -- Frank Tyger