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The Almighty Buck

FCC Clears Comcast Purchase Of AT&T Broadband 240

Torgo's Pizza writes "The FCC just granted final approval for Comcast to complete its $30.5 billion purchase of AT&T Broadband. Despite consumer worries of increased rates and clear domination of the market, Chairman Michael Powell stated, "The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible.""
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FCC Clears Comcast Purchase Of AT&T Broadband

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  • FCC is finally letting big business through!

    (see students?)
    • What's the deal? They won't let a good merger through (the sat tv companies) but they'll let this happen? For the people, by the people?? What a load of crap.

      I think the laws need to be changes so that when two companies want to merge, or a large company wants to buy another large company, it has to come to a vote by the people. We all know how much fun national elections are and that would be the only way to really do what the people want. Obviously right now money talks and whoever is willing or able to pay off a few key officials (or maybe a lot of key officials), can merge to their hearts content... consumers be damned.

      • Re:Aha! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mendepie ( 228850 )
        The difference is that (in most if not all markets) they dont compete with each other. Most people only have the choice of on cable provider.

        On the other hand, you do have the choice of Dish vs. DirectTV no matter where you are.
  • Only if you aren't a consumer about to get arse raped by this government aproved monopoly. I'm willing to bet that if the next president is a republican that this megacorp will get to be as bad or worse than Ma Bell, the ultimate in "please sir may I have another" customer relations.
    • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskettNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:38PM (#4664494)
      Only if you aren't a consumer about to get arse raped by this government aproved monopoly. I'm willing to bet that if the next president is a republican that this megacorp will get to be as bad or worse than Ma Bell, the ultimate in "please sir may I have another" customer relations.
      The number of markets where Comcast and AT&T compete is not very large, if any all. That means they already have monopolies over their respective areas. All that is happening is that two nearly bankrupt monopolies are merging into one nearly bankrupt monopolies. The only hope is that together they are mostly solvent, which isnt written in stone by any means.

      And about your lame attempt at making this a partisian issue, the 90's was the greatest single period of corporate consolidation since the Industrial Revolution.
    • "Only if you aren't a consumer about to get arse raped by this government aproved monopoly. I'm willing to bet that if the next president is a republican that this megacorp will get to be as bad or worse than Ma Bell, the ultimate in "please sir may I have another" customer relations."

      Ya know, right up until the point were people wanted to do slightly more that just voice with their phones, old Ma Bell did pretty damn well. Everyone (and that is key) had reliable, affordable voice service.

      Eventually it became a hindrance to market forces, so we altered the system slightly in the so-called "break-up", but the monopoly served to establish a strong infrastructure.

      Right now, I'd kill for broadband if I thought it would help. Nope. No can do. I don't add up on some vestige of the monopolies spreadsheets.

      Frankly, at this point, I'm all done being patient. I want an adult in charge, put the fist down and say, "universal broadband access, no excuses." If welding together enough of these separate bean-counter telecoms creates the opportunity at the national level for this to occur, I'm all for it.

      What I don't like is that we were making fair progress through deregulation. It would have taken only a little more access by third parties to the "last mile" infrastructure to get it effectively done. Now, we change administrations and go 180 degrees the other way.

  • oh shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Karamchand ( 607798 )
    Comcast has this f*cking webpage without an useful abuse report address/form. They do not have postmaster@ or webmaster@ addresses. Obviously they aren't able to administer such services well :-/
    And now they get another large chunk of the internet.. that's bad news, even for us guys overseas
  • Negligible? (Score:2, Informative)

    Oh yeah, of course the potential downsides are negligible if you can afford to pay $100 for $hitty service. I'm having a hard time paying the 46 those bums are charging now. I mean honestly, is there any end to their greed. How many of you think Powell got a promise of free service AFTER the price jumps to 200 for a line?
    • Especially when they eventually put a cap on bandwith!
    • What speeds do you get for that price? I'm on Cox and getting 3MB Down/256K Up for I think just under $50 a month, and I'm happy. I truly think it's worth that much.
      • The other problem with my service, is that I never know what speeds I DO get. Sometimes it'll feel like 3mgdown/256k up...other times it acts lke 56k. And this is independent of how long/what os my machine has been running. Nor is this affected by who else is using the line and how much of hte bandwidth. Oh, and one other thing, it's got a habbit of going down randomly. It just disconnects and then comes back up.
        • you should frequently do speed checks at dslreports.com or other places. they store your results so you can see how your bandwidth goes over time. my comcast connection has dropped from well over 2Mb to about 500kb in 2 years. Time for the ole "Finger of God" skript. This pipe is....

        • Cox has a guarantee that provided the site can support it, you'll always get 3MB down/256k up, barring outages.
  • Bah (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by sheddd ( 592499 )
    I'm glad I've got DSL. I picture the day when I try to go to m-w.com and my AT&T service notes that site has been blocked, care to try our very affordable dictionary service?
    • Since when has AT&T been in the business of sifting through academic works and general media to discover and reasonably document the current usage and connotations of important words? m-w.com is offered by, guess who, Merriam-Webster, which has been making dictionaries for several decades at least. Last I checked, AT&T's business plan was to provide common carriers to the teaming masses or individual corporations, not to offer content. This isn't AOL/Time-Warner we're talking about. The parent post is nothing more than unsupported FUD.
      • Comcast is buying the service away from AT&T, so AT&T's business plan and history running common-carrier networks are irrelevant. As far as I can tell, Comcast is doesn't get it. But there's some hope, because (last I heard) some of the AT&T execs will be moving to Comcast as well.
    • by garcia ( 6573 )
      why are you glad you got DSL? 768k/128k service for the same cost as 1.5/256k (or more if you are RoadRunner)?

      Explain to me how what you have is better? I had DSL for years before cable was available in NW Ohio. I would NOT switch back, ever.

      I had RoadRunner for over a year. Rarely lost block sync, had INCREDIBLY fast speeds (close to 300k/s), and it was cheap (49.95).

      I worked for ATTBI as a CSR and now unfortunatly I have to use them as my HSD service now that I have relocated to Minneapolis (AT&T area).

      I still get 1.5mbs/256k, no loss of sync, and at 46.95/mo (w/my own cable modem and no CATV service)

      So, w/DSL I had TWO different people I had to talk to if there was a service problem (Verizon and the ISP), neither talked to each other, and the one ALWAYS blamed the other.

      80k/s or 200+ for the same price? There is no argument here.
      • Re:Bah (Score:3, Informative)

        why are you glad you got DSL? 768k/128k service for the same cost as 1.5/256k

        Are you saying all DSL is 768/128? If you think that, you are horribly mistaken. Not everyone has such shitty DSL in their area.

        My DSL provider gives me 1.5/256, for $49 per month. I also get a static IP, DNS services, several e-mail boxes, and almost never do I get downtime. Not only that, I don't even have to use PPPOE.

        DirectTV DSL truely IS a very good provider. When I first started out with them over a year ago they had a few minor issues but it's all blue skies now.

        In fact, the ONLY people in my area who WILL touch cable are those who for whatever reason can't get DSL. The cable provider in our area (Charter) blows goat cheese. Frequent downtimes, lag for no good reason, crappy agreements, no static IP, not allowed to run any servers, etc. etc.

        I think the reasons for using DSL are pretty obvious. There is no argument here.
    • That will never happen.

      A company will never make me angry enough to get out of this chair. They will spend billions of dollars to make me stay in this chair.

      If they blocked a website and diverted me to a similar one for a small fee, I WILL get out of this chair.

      And they would quiver at the thought of that.
  • by rickthewizkid ( 536429 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:17PM (#4664329)
    Hmmm.... Did not the FCC block the merger of DirecTV and Dish Network? Or was that some other government organization?

    Of course, I don't watch TV so that's a moot point for me anyway... :)

    A man needs TV like a fish needs a bicycle
    • obviously comcast has better lobiest or spent more to ensure a positive vote.
    • Because there is a difference between 90+% of a market (DirecTV and Dish), and 10-15% of a market (Comcast + ATT).

    • by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:35PM (#4664470) Homepage Journal
      Did not the FCC block the merger of DirecTV and Dish Network? Or was that some other government organization?

      27 million Comcast/AT&T subscribers still leaves almost 50 million households getting their cable from elsewhere.

      If DirecTV and Dish Network merged, the new company would have over 80% of the US DBS marketmore than enough to claim monopoly status. Satellite TV may not matter to you if you live in a city, but for folks in rural areas, DBS is the only way to receive "cable" channels.

      • Even for those of us where cable is available Satalite is the only way to go, since cable company service tends to be, at best, unresponsive. I know plenty of people who have decided to pay extra to DircTV for local channels just so they wouldn't have to deal with AT&T "customer service" anymore.

    • Because Rupurt Murdoch promised Televangilists more time on his cable networks if they would stir up opposition to the satilite merger. Saw it in the Wall Street Journal, dead tree version. Link [guardian.co.uk] has the results, both of the little fishies will be eaten and shut down. So, for a temporary advantage, those fools enlarged the power of their enemies.

      The truth only happens in a place where there are many publishers of equal weight. A place with one or two heavies is likely to have "news" that's more entertianment, spin and propaganda than information. An old Russian poverb, "There's no truth in the news and no news in the truth," was made fact by the Soviet Union which had only two news services in any media, Tass and Isvestia, meaning Truth and News (order may be incorrect). Both printed up the same nonsense. It can happen elswhere with far less repressive measures.

    • because AT&T and Comcast don't directly compete - they service disjoint geographical areas (very very few parts of the US have competing cable systems)

      E* and DTV on the other hand do compete directly both with each other and with local cable systems - their merger would have dropped the number of suppliers from 3 to 2 in most areas, and 2 to 1 in a lot of rural ones. Commcast/AT&T doesn't change this

      Having said this I think a bigger Commcast is both good/bad - it creates someone to go up against AOL/TW - on the other hand it's just another media giant - us real people are pretty much forgotten in all this - except .... when companies like this merge/get sold - we do too, litterally - there's usually a $/subscriber amount set as part of the deal.

      So - in the long run it's better to have two hungry satellite companies keeping the local cable giant honest

  • by dconder ( 79190 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:17PM (#4664331) Homepage
    Comcast is paying way too much, sounds familiar? We all know what happened to the dot coms, don't we? But CEOs can fix anything by "cost control" (read "laying off enough people"). Then they increase your dues, since they are now a monopoly. Then 5 year later, they go bankrupt because after all 30 billion was too much and because high speed wireless beat them to a pulp. But by this time the CEOs are gone and are laughing from their golden parachutes. Anyway, by this time, no one remembers that it was done on Bush's guard. This is called win-win for the CEOs and the politicians.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't understand. Didn't most of that sort of stuff generally happen under Clinton's guard? Wasn't it his administration that would give out donations to corporations that were having trouble as long as it was "important to the economy"?
    • Too much? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tetrad69 ( 526053 )
      Comcast is getting it at a great price, at least compared to what AT&T paid for the individual units.
  • Benefits/Harms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06NO@SPAMemail.com> on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:19PM (#4664346)
    Chairman Michael Powell says: The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible.

    What he's really saying:
    The benefits to Comcast are considerable, the potential harms to the users are not a consideration because their political donations aren't as large as Comcast's, now are they.

  • Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AntiNorm ( 155641 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:19PM (#4664352)
    Chairman Michael Powell stated, "The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible

    Allow me to provide a translation:

    The benefits of this transaction are considerable: I'm receiving plenty of "benefits" (read: bribes) from the companies involved. All I have to do in return is not throw antitrust laws at them.

    the potential harms negligible: Who cares about the consumer? As long as I'm not harmed, all is good.
    • Re:Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by runenfool ( 503 )
      It might not even be that - but if you think about it the people that are making these decisions see 100 or 200 dollars a month as negligible.

      How easy, for example, is it for someone like GW Bush to understand the plight of someone making minimum wage? Hes never been there, his parents have never been there, nor his grandparents.

      The monetary frame of reference of our politicians is so skewed that a doubling of rates really IS no big deal to them. But they do understand the plight of corporate heads, as that is where they come from and where they will go after government. So OF COURSE they are going to be rabidly pro corporate, even without all the legalized bribery.
  • Oh good! (Score:4, Funny)

    by JosefWells ( 17775 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:20PM (#4664357)
    It was so much fun going from AT&T @HOME to AT&T, I can't wait to get flipped over to a new network!

    I wonder if Comcast can bring the same exciting server name changes and mass outages that came with the last switch. I am all-aflutter with anticipation!

    No, really I am.
    • Re:Oh good! (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      w/the bottom up provisioning that is already in place w/ATTBI, I doubt that there will be much of a problem moving over to Comcast (as long as Comcast keeps the provisioning model the same, which I can't see why they wouldn't).

      From @Home -> ATTBI they tried to manually put everyone into the provisioning database, but couldn't w/anyone that had a proprietary modem (Motorola Cybersurfer Wave, COM21 proprietary, some LANCity's).

      So when AT&T RoadRunner when to ATTBI all the users had to do was call and get the instructions, some of them actually recieved instructions in the mail (that most people here would have no problems following).

      there is a web page called the SAS registration page. You goto that site (w/a proxy set temporarily) and the site grabs your MAC address from the modem and allows you access to the new network.

      PRAY that Comcast keeps this. The changeover will be mostly painless.

      Comcast was telling the CSRs that they would have more concentration on GOOD customer service and less problems... They WANT to keep customers, not ignore them till they leave.

      Again, we can always hope :)
    • Yes, they can. I know, because they did. When Comcast switched from @Home to Comcast.net, there were all kinds of troubles. They were still signing up new customers and then telling them that they wouldn't have email for at least three months when they expected to have the mail servers and accounts set up. I sat back and snickered from behind my DSL modem. :)
  • by dirvish ( 574948 ) <dirvishNO@SPAMfoundnews.com> on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:21PM (#4664358) Homepage Journal
    Chairman Michael Powell stated, "The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible."

    I am pretty sure he got that backwards...
  • by BShive ( 573771 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:21PM (#4664359) Homepage
    Even now comcast cable is more expensive than DSL in my area - plus they forbid using VPN over the 'residential' package. If you want to work from home you basically have to spring for the $100/month business package. I wish the Bell Atlantic would get thier act together with DSL rollout.
    • You're going to have to wait a very long time before "Bell Atlantic" shows up to install your DSL. Of course, the guys may still be out there in their unpainted trucks completing their orders!

      Thanks for the laugh at the end of a long day. I needed it.
    • It's the same here with Comcast vs. DSL (Bellsouth). Here is Charleston, SC BTW.
  • Translation: (Score:2, Redundant)

    by antis0c ( 133550 )
    The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible.

    The benefits of this transaction are considerable to us, the potential harms that many come to you, we don't give a damn about.
  • Monopolies (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They allow 2 monoplies to merge, even though ti violates the laws (30%), it brings no customer relief or competition.
    Yet, they stop the merger of dish and hughes, and echo offered to sell off part their equipment, and spots to allow for another company.
    Guess which the FCC allows?
    Like the bush league, it follows the money.
    • Re:Monopolies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskettNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:41PM (#4664518)
      You are missing the point.

      Two monopolies merge, there is still the same amount of competition: i.e. none. AT&T And Comcast dont really compete right now. Joing them does not eliminate competition.

      Echo and Hughes are in active competition across the whole country. Combining them does in fact reduce the competition significantly.
      • You're forgetting the other half of the cable biz, which is selling advertising, and bundling and packaging channels. Cable companies are ultimately the brokers between advertisers and viewers. So they have a powerful affect on advertising markets. Plus, how cable channels are packaged, and their content, is also controlled by cable companies. If you're HBO and you only have to satisfy one buyer instead of two, that buyer can pretty much dictate what he wants. Even if it's five buyers instead of six, putting so much influence in the hands of so few is not healthy. Think about all this next time your "national network" station is replaced by infomercials on a Sunday afternoon.
  • This is only for the purchase of AT&T Broadband. This includes AT&T Cable, related infrastructure, and associated connectivity-via-cable (cable modem) customers. This has nothing to do with local phone, long distance, leased lines, web hosting, solutions, etc.

  • @Home was with comcast originally. They went down the drain. I wonder how long it will take them to drive ATT's broadband division into the crapper too.
    • Not long if they have the same people answering their calls from the first nightmare of a switchover.
    • oh please, if you know anything about AT&T's business practices, then you know they've already lifted up the lid.. they don't have THAT far to go..

      its bad enough that AT&T's entire range of products are commodity items, but c. michael armstrong proceeded to sell off all the parts that could ever make him a profit. he won't be happy until the only thing AT&T has left is consumer long distance. all that "new fangled" technology is just too much for him.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Um...@home was *not* Comcast. Comcast was an @home franchise. It was Excite that sent "@home" down the crapper.
  • by Tailhook ( 98486 )
    Is the working theory (excuse, apology, whatever) that if the service provider is allowed to become big enough it can improve service through economies of scale and having enough capital to handle build-out?

    My visions of the results of telecommunication deregulation remain visions. At every step where small providers have made progress, obstacles are created by the legacy monopolies. Progress toward telecom dereg was made under Clinton, and it is being quickly reversed under Bush. I'd like to know how they justify it.

    Frankly, I don't care how it gets done. I want cheap, reliable, wide bandwidth. Whether it gets to me via Joe's KickAss Wires Inc. or COMCASTATTMEGOPOLY doesn't mean a lot, except that in the former case there would be a lot fewer bean counters micro managing my usage, for a time. Eventually it'll all end up in the hands of a small number of large companies anyhow; economies of scale for a commodity product.
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:26PM (#4664405) Homepage
    No more AT&T Broadband commercials being broadcasted to AT&T Broadband subscribers. Maybe better management will end the brilliant advertizing.
  • .. they left out an important part of that sentence, let me fix it:

    "The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harm [to our margins] is negligible."
  • We need a Tech version of Rage Against the Machine.. with all that angst aimed at the various craptitude that is dumped on us on a daily basis.

    I'd add some clever names of songs from RATM but with an added tech influence, but I should be working or something.
    • I'd add some clever names of songs from RATM but with an added tech influence, but I should be working or something.

      I'll do it for you then!

      Take the Bandwidth Back
      Guerilla P2P
      Packet in the Net
      Fuck the Cable Company
      Know Your ISP
  • If the prices for Comcast cable modem went up and such, at least hopefully some people in my neihborhood would cancel it to free up some KaZaaing.
  • "The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible."

    Yea right. What was the benefit again? Higher Prices? Less bandwidth? Port Blocking?


    I just wish I could get decent broadband. The only thing available here is via satellite. If the govment is going to approve a monopoly at least make them provide their service to smaller markets too.
  • > The benefits of this transaction are considerable, the potential harms negligible.

    Seems more like the inverse of this is becoming true of the FCC.
  • by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:36PM (#4664478) Homepage
    That Comcast gets the AT&T rental cable modem I never returned too?

    The FCC should get Comcast to buy out my local library so I and other consumers can benefit from rental/late fee consolidation.
    • Perhaps I'm too young to remember exactly or how accurate this is, but I think back in the 80's everyone had to RENT telephones from AT&T (or bellsouth?). Don't know how much they charged, but considering I can pick one up today for $10, rental seems a PITA
      • Re:nooooooo (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nelsonal ( 549144 )
        It happened, but I think it was before the eighties, I remember buying them in the early eighties. Rental was a PITA, because it was really expensive. This was one of the ways AT&T collected their monopoly rents. Where do you think all the money came from to throw at things like Bell Labs, its obvious that Lucent never made any money once the monopoly teat was taken away. Western Electric was the AT&T company that made the phones you had to rent. I believe that you were allowed to own a phone, but it wasn't allowed ot interfere with the network, and ma' bell was pretty slow to approve any phones that wouldn't interfere with the network.
        They did similar things to the long distance companies, preventing them from accessing their local networks without costly equipment, but that is what brought about the lawsuit that ended with the breakup agreement. Of course those were the days, when long distance calls were more of a luxury. Its ironic that AT&T more or less got to decide how to split up the company, but still gave away all the powerful parts of the monopoly. They kept the then profitable long distance business, Bell Labs, and NCR. Only after it became appearant that the local loops were where the monopoly power was, did AT&T start buying cable companies for rich valuations, hoping to create a local network to compete with the companies they gave away in the settlement.
  • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:43PM (#4664527)
    Increased competition through consolidation!
    Lower costs through higher prices!

    Join us in the new world!
  • Yeah, mod me down, whatever. Michael Powell is a fucking housenigger if ever I've seen one. Show me one instance where he's stood up for the "little guy" and not sold us out to Big Business.

    Sorry to use such harsh language.

    In case you're wondering, a house nigger is a slave that got to live in the big house with the master, rathen than in the grubby slave quarters. He had a better life because of this but was thoroughly despised by the other slaves.

    Come to think of it, my explanation is probably more offensive than my use of the "n-word." If you're modding me down because you're a historian, then that's okay.
  • by deego ( 587575 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @07:59PM (#4664646)
    This is just the beginning..

    Now that we have an (or will in a few months) all-republican Government, consumer-protection will dramatically improve..
  • Monopoly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by forevermore ( 582201 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @08:07PM (#4664697) Homepage
    I've never understood this whole thing about media monopolies... It's not like I ever had a choice about which cable company to use when I moved into my new apartment. Many cities/counties break up the area and give the pieces to specific providers. Thus, I wanted Millennium cable since their internet access is pretty decent speed-wise, etc. However, I live on 13th Ave. and their area only goes to 12th Ave (literally!), so I had to go with ATT. And since I don't trust them (and I need someone friendly to my running a mail server, etc) I went with DSL.

    Anyway, so what's up with this? It's like when AT&T got chopped up, but all that did was create a bunch of little baby monopolies that didn't compete with each other, or anyone else.

  • I expected this. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by /dev/trash ( 182850 )
    Of course consolidating DSS services into One is bad, but consolidating cable internet into One is okay.

    Makes no sense to me. If the FCC wants to block monopolies, fine, just do it consistenly.

    Yeah I know that there is still more than one cable internet service but for how long?
    • They blocked the satalite mergers, because they would not have any competitors in most rural areas. Going from two competitors to one, usualy has pretty drastic effects on the competitive landscape. While those in the cities could switch to cable if the combined company raised prices, many rural dwellers could not. The cable companies are usually monopolies because they have a local right granted by a city to be the only cable company. These were designed to get the cable built, otherwise very densly populated areas, several hundered homes per mile, would have many cable companies serving them and everyone else would have none.
      Because the cable companies don't really compete with each other exept in population dense areas, where the sat, companies also both compete, this was viewed as adding little to the compined company's market power. A city that was served by one of the companies will still be served by one of the companies. The cable companies are also currently classified as competitors to the local phone monopolies, when you add all these competitors together, the FCC decided that this would not reduce competition much.
      Finally, the abrasivness of the EchoStar CEO probably did more than anything else to turn regulators off towards the merger. He is pretty brash, and well you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
  • Some more info (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heck ( 609097 ) <deadaccount@nobodyhere.com> on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @08:34PM (#4664866)

    What is not being advertised is that those people who are current local phone (over digital cable) customers of AT&T broadband (Comcast does not do phone over cable) are going to be quietly ignored. Comcast does NOT want to support local phone service; local phone service will cease to be advertised, sold, pushed, etc.; they're hoping for slow attrition of existing customers once the merger is done.

    As for moving the high speed users between networks - it shouldn't be as much as a clusterfuck as the @Home move was; they have all of the data this time and they control the networks.

    One other clarifications:
    Michael Armstrong is moving to Comcast. Plus Armstrong is looking a little better (not much, but a little) now that it's been revealed that QWest and WorldCom were fudging their numbers in a big way, while AT&T didn't play that game. (Interesting muse: what would have happened to AT&T if the other companies had not, well, lied? Wall Street forced AT&T's stock price into the toilet because they were comparing the T to companies that were pulling numbers out of their ass)

  • by gradji ( 188612 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @08:42PM (#4664923)
    I think many of us are protesting the wrong crime.

    Allowing Comcast to buy AT&T Broadband is not a major crime. This is just replacing one bad monopolist with another -- the two firms weren't explicitly competing against each other so there is no serious concern that the merger will lead to higher prices, lower quality. Ask yourselves: what was preventing AT&T or Comcast from unilaterally offering more expensive, crummy service? It sure wasn't the "threat" of competition from each other. If anything, it was the threat that consumers would get fed up and revolt or the government would actually be forced to respond to consumer outrage. A merger doesn't affect either constraints - if anything, the merger makes the joint firm more vulnerable to such outrage and government scrutiny.

    The real crime is the fact that we tolerate and allow these regional monopolies to prosper under government protection.
  • The worst thing about this merger from the point of view of an AT&T cablemodem user that I've heard about is NO Usenet. Comcast doesn't support it and AT&T has made some gurglings about following their lead (no loss to the customers because of the wonderful comcast community we'll get in its place). Urgh.
    • The worst thing about this merger from the point of view of an AT&T cablemodem user that I've heard about is NO Usenet.

      <voice="Montgomery Burns">


      Now all I need is to convince AOL Time Warner to drop their Usenet feed as a "cost-cutting move," and the Backbone Cabal will rule again!

      Fly, my pretties!


  • The only people who should be very concerned about this merger are people who _sell_ to cable operators (i.e. programmers like HBO or equipment vendors like C-Cor, SA, Motorola, etc.).

    For end customers, it won't make a damn bit of difference. AFAIK, not a single market in the US are served by both of these providers, so no consumer will see a reduction in the service offerings provided to them.

    For folks who complain about only having one cable operator, it's not a regulatory issue. Every local franchise agreement (contract between the cable company and your city or town that says the cable company gets to string wires and provide service, and in exchange the city government gets a % of the revenue plus free cable service for city offices and schools) signed in the last 15 years is non-exclusive, so another cable operator is welcome to come in and set up shop. Problem is, with a few exceptions (quite dense, wealthy neighborhoods), the economics just don't justify building a second network. It's not some global conspiracy, just the fact that you can pay for building a network to pass 100 houses if you get 65 of them as customers, but not if you only get 37 of them.
  • Dude, what the *&^% is up with all of these mergers?! What ever happened to those precious anti-trust laws? I swear, by this time next year we all going to be paying some sort of bill to Microsoft Comcast Broadband (an SBC AOL Time Warner Company).
  • Back in January 2002, Slashdot had a major font page story about Comcast attempting to block customer using NAT [slashdot.org]. Now that ATTBI is going to become Comcast, how long will I be able to keep my home network? Does anyone know if Comcast has been successful in this effort?

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong