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The Internet The Almighty Buck United States

Baby Bells Promise Broadband Stagnation 441

twitter writes "According to this NYT article the Baby Bells will not be developing their 'high-speed networks' despite their recently granted DSL monopoly because they were not granted local phone monopolies. 'Here is a lot of crying crybaby reaction to the decision.' says Mr. Powell."
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Baby Bells Promise Broadband Stagnation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:45PM (#5399094)
    Here's a look at the Bells' work to tax VoIP [] in a similar move to the ones they made in the early days of DSL. The eventual goal of moves like this would be to push non-Bells out of VoIP so they can then have yet another monopoly.
  • Don't you love that word.

    Guess it's time to get out the red tape and seal up any hopes of low cost DSL.
    • Re:mmm...stagnation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dbrutus ( 71639 )
      As T-1 prices drift lower and lower, won't more people just band together and share T's? The entire business community uses these lines and they are in a competitive market with lots of sellers there. They can't just jack up prices because they'd have to do it along their entire range of customers and it wouldn't stick.

      Right now I can't get DSL but I can get T-1 service for $400/month. With 20 customers sharing it out, it would be well worth my while to do it, the last segment being handled wirelessly.
  • by doozer ( 7822 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:47PM (#5399120) Homepage
    Government "watched" corporations are never going to provided the services users want
    when they want them, how they want them.

    The only way we are going to get broadband across the board is if the government mandates
    it, and takes it upon themselves to install and run it. As soon as it's left up to
    a corporation todo, they're going to not provide services to the customers that are expensive.
    Why? Because thats the point of a corporation. They want to make a profit. Period.

    Private corporations are not the ideal method of provided uniform services, because not
    everyone can be served at uniform cost.

    The sooner we realize this, and stop trying to privatize everything, we'll be better off

    • by Maeryk ( 87865 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:53PM (#5399194) Journal
      The only way we are going to get broadband across the board is if the government mandates
      it, and takes it upon themselves to install and run it. As soon as it's left up to
      a corporation todo, they're going to not provide services to the customers that are expensive.
      Why? Because thats the point of a corporation. They want to make a profit. Period.

      I think they can make a profit. Right now, locally, I can get Satellite broadband from DirecTV, I can get Cablemodem from the "local" cable company (who is the only co. I trust less than the phone company) or I can get (and have) DSL from a "local" ISP. (fairly local, anyway.. one of the small ones that got medium sized, but stayed here and did not get absorbed.)

      I wont go Satellite, because I want two way broadband.. I like to run game servers.. I wont go cablemodem, cause, well, I already HAVE directv and am contracted into it.. so DSL is pretty much my only answer right now.

      However.. I suspect if the phone company offered DSL locally, in this way "You buy the modem for 49.95 (making them a profit on the modem) and pay 9.95 a month for the DSL service" they would make a HELL of a lot more money than Covad is currently making in my area billing me 49.95 a month for my DSL.

      Its a matter of how many * income. The thing now is that at 50 bucks, people dont want to shell out the cash, but at 9.95 that beats the hell out of AOL, and give REAL internet to people.

      I know I would jump on it.. and I sure would encourage everyone I know to jump on it as well.


      • The point he was making is that corperations will hijack certain demands, holding the 'blackmail' if they can use that to maintain higher profits in other areas.

        I dont think anybody claims they can't make a profit this way, but do they want to make their profit that way or is it easier to make it elsewhere?

        Corperations supply to meet demand .. just not all demands. Some demands just take too much work/risk/uncertainty to meet, so using the promise of meeting that demand to minimize competition/risk in other profit making ventures is a common tactic of large companies.
        • "The point he was making is that corperations will hijack certain demands, holding the 'blackmail' if they can use that to maintain higher profits in other areas."


      • I may just be shooting in the dark here, but I think it's likely that they don't charge $9.99 for broadband because it costs at least that much to provide it.

        I'm not saying they're not overcharging, but they can't exactly pick any arbitrary price point and make up for it completely with 'volume'.
        • by Maeryk ( 87865 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:11PM (#5399396) Journal
          I may just be shooting in the dark here, but I think it's likely that they don't charge $9.99 for broadband because it costs at least that much to provide it.

          Doubtful. As was pointed out on TSS the other day, bandwidth is basically free. What you pay for are the fees charged by the companies providing the pipe, not the bandwidth. If you want a T-1 you either go to the local ISP which provides you the fiber pipe, or you go to the phone company who jacks you into their fiber trunk.

          The cost is "value added" stuff.. the phone company charges X for the line, to which your local ISP adds the cost of its server procurement, maintenence, support staff, etc, and then dollops another chunk on cause "the market will bear it". As long as they all continue to follow just about the same pricing structure, they will. If you can get it 10 dollars cheaper from one place than all the others, you will, all other things being equal. So there is no incentive whatsoever for company Y to go any further cheaper than the others. So the phone company gives you a "discount" on X services on your phone bill if you also go with their DSL, and you are in. Much like insurance companies.. they charge higher rates for house and motorcycle insurance, but for the "convenience" of one-stop-shopping and multi-vehicle "discounts" you will pay the higher rates anyway.

          What we really need is to find (build, whatever) nexus points that pipe to the backbone and then build relay wireless networks that go house to house in urban areas.. that is the start. Totally deregulated, because there is no-one to "sue" no one "owns" it.

          • by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:28PM (#5400213)
            Bandwidth is most assuredly not free. Industrial strength routers and packet switching equipment cost lots of money (we're talking several million for an installation needed for a central hub.) They have to pay people to run the datacenters, do line repair, keep things secure, make sure the routes are running smoothly, etc. Now I'm sure that there's some padding added on top of this, because the line provider probably wants to make some money, but rest assured that bandwidth is not free.
      • The problem with your plan is that the bandwidth would have to be so oversold that you would be talking about a 100 MB daily download cap (with extra bandwidth purchaseable in, say, 100MB increments for $5/month extra). Check out all the capping stories for Slashdotters' opinion on that capping.

        If I were to start a DSL ISP, I would have a few tiers of service. All services have the same ToS: anything goes that's not prohibited by law. Run your own mailserver (as long as you don't spam). Run a webserver. Register a domain. Run an IRC server. Run a gameserver. Run every P2P service known to man.

        Tier One. 192 Kbps down, 32 Kbps up. Unlimited downloads, but capped uploads of 100MB/month (if the other side is outside the network... intranetwork uploads are unlimited). Connections are PPPoE. Price: $29.99/month, $10 for every 50MB or portion thereof over the limit.

        Tier Two. 1024 Kbps down, 128 Kbps up. Same up/download caps but outside uploads are 500MB/month. PPPoE (with static IP optional). $44.99/month, $5 for every 100MB or portion thereof overlimit, $5/month for static IP.

        Tier Three. 1536 Kbps down, 768 Kbps up. Same caps except for monthly upload is 2 GB/month. Static IP. $79.99/month, $10 for every 500 MB or portion thereof overlimit, priority routing (packets bound for or sent from your IP have extra priority at the border routers) for an additional $10/month.

        • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:36PM (#5400306) Homepage Journal
          $30/month for something that uploads no faster than a 33.6 modem? Your service is a rip off, I'm going to go with one of your competitors, unless you mange to get a monopoly in the area through crafty legislation or something.

          You are going to flood the return channel with ACKs and have lousy downstream bandwidth anyway. It's the same situation with the 1.5M/128K Cablemodems these days.

          I hope the users of your service never feel a need for any one of the many bidirectional uses of the network. I pity the guy who works with large data files for say some open source project and blows past his upload cap halfway through the month. Yes there are completely legitimate uses for large datafiles, despite what you might think. In fact there are lots of them, and they're growing by the day.

          This is the common though I see on Slashdot and elsewhere. The only "valid" use for a broadband connection is downloading web pages and perhaps using FTP sometimes if you're l33t. No user should ever need to actually originate some data, and those that do are just slowing down my porn downloads dammit. It's sort of similar to the idea that everybody should just be a consumer, you shouldn't produce anythinig outside of the framework of a large corporation, since that's communism. It's crazy, but some people honesly think like that.

          I think bandwidth should be free to allow people to innovate and not restrict them when they finally do come up with a good idea. Granted many people will abuse such privleges just like people abuse civil liberties, but that doesn't make them a bad idea. We don't need to impose martial law on our networks because you don't want to let other people use more bandwidth than you, even if it feels like you're being ripped off. Do you honestly think the DSL and Cablemodem providers would lower their price if everyone stopped using so much bandwidth?
          • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:57PM (#5400580) Journal
            I hope the users of your service never feel a need for any one of the many bidirectional uses of the network.

            FACT: the majority of people on the Internet aren't taking advantage of the bidirectional uses of the network. Those that are would certainly not choose Tier One in that plan. Tier One is designed for one class of users: those who use it simply to browse the web, send/receive email (email would not be counted in the bandwidth estimations), and want to get a download speed that is significantly faster than dial-up.

            I pity the guy who works with large data files for say some open source project and blows past his upload cap halfway through the month.

            In that case, he pays for the bandwidth he uses. Simple as that. Bandwidth ain't free (though it does get cheaper (in the marginal sense) the more that is bought). There will also be an SDSL option available for a few more bucks a month (probably $10 for tier 1, $20 at tier 2, and $30 at tier 3). If you think that "one-size-fits-all" Internet service can possibly serve the huge number of different uses, with different requirements for each, then you are truly deluded.

            No user should ever need to actually originate some data, and those that do are just slowing down my porn downloads dammit.

            I'm not saying that uploading is not a valid use of the network; on the contrary, the right to upload, in an unrestricted manner, is enshrined in such a service. However, be prepared to pay for the upload. If you're getting broadband service, be prepared to pay broadband prices.

            I think bandwidth should be free

            Do you mean free as in speech? I completely agree with you. If you mean free as in beer, put down the crackpipe.

            Do you honestly think the DSL and Cablemodem providers would lower their price if everyone stopped using so much bandwidth?

            I'm not speaking for the existing DSL/cable providers. I'm strictly speaking for my own hypothetical ISP, one I would have no problem using (being an open-source contributor who regularly resyncs my own local mirror of Mandrake Cooker (around 200MB or so a day in downloads)). The simple fact is that each byte of data has a nonzero cost which must be paid by someone (perhaps its the taxpayer, perhaps the ISP eats it as a loss). To my mind, the fairest thing in the world is for those who are ultimately responsible for the sending of the bytes (ie the sender) to pay for their sending.

    • "The only way we are going to get broadband across the board is if the government mandates
      it, and takes it upon themselves to install and run it."

      How did Canada do it? I don't think their system is government mandated, but I don't know enough to say for sure either way.

      Maybe we should look at how Canada operates their telecomms to help us decide how to run ours? Broadband has been readily available there for a very long time. We should consider looking into the hows and why's of canada.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:12PM (#5399405)
        We have vast armies of wildlife to carry the TCP and UDP packets from point to point (once in a while they miss the wide funnel mouths and a packet is lost, but what are ya gonna do?). The reason we can do this cheaply is because of our single-payer healthcare system for wildlife, so our beavers and deer work more cheaply than US animals would.

        We're such freaking communists.
      • My view:

        The government provides the wire going from a CO to your house (copper or coax or whatever). Well, not the government, a non-profit corporation chartered by act of the state legislature with no shareholders, the ability to issue debt with the guarantee of the state, and directors who are appointed by the state government (in a manner that minimizes any individual government's ability to pack the board). Anyway, this corporation is charged with maintaining the last mile infrastructure. It does not offer any services (because governments are shitty at delivering services). Anybody who wants to can lay their own backbone connection (fiber, satellite, whatever) to the CO, put their equipment in the CO, and offer service to those who have the lines (service being voice telephone, cable TV, data services, etc.) has the right to serve however many customers they want, with the corporation leasing CO space and renting the lines at the same rate (the cost of maintaining the lines connecting to the CO divided by the number of lines connecting to the CO). If you and some friends want to start up a co-op ISP, you make a deal for a backbone connection, buy your equipment, pay the fees for the maintenance, and you're off. Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc. would be able to sell services along the line, as well. Some allowance would be main for split lines (eg you get Earthlink data, Comcast television, and Verizon voice), possibly on a one-third split.

    • I believe only competition can help and not more government intervention. Unfortunatly the bells have ownership of the lines even though they are tax paid for.

      Wireless is the answer. I heard of rumours of satellite access but I do not know what happened. It seems that the project died. If babybells do not free up the lines then cable and wireless will teach them to play nice. Competition is the only thing is keeps companies going and playing nice for the consumer.

      My fear is that they will lobby the fcc to ban bluetooth and wireless isp's in an effort to create a monopoly only on cable and dsl. My guess is it will fail. Another problem is alot of wireless companies like verizon sell dsl so they will fight tooth and nail to keep dsl and ban wireless so they can squeeze more profits. But lets hope that start-ups will give them a run for their money. Then if sbc cuts dsl out it will only give their marketshare to their competitors.

    • Privatizing things works very well, especially communications; the government just needs tighter controls over the privatized industry. Here in Canada we have just that. First there's the Telephone Pole Act, basically it states that all telephone poles must be leasable by any communication provider, regardless of competition to Ma Bell. That alone has created a booming cable industry since pole costs were covered. It further helped expand communications infrastructure as Telus, and others were able to reasonably enter the market. Beyond that we have the mandated position of extending broadband to every canadian by 2005 (I think it is). With regulations like this the government is both driving innovation and allowing for meaningful privatization. Ah, the joys of Canada.
      • That alone has created a booming cable industry

        Correction: A booming government-protected cable monopoly. To me, ascribing the term "industry" implies competition and there sure as hell isn't any cable competition Canada. There are 3 major cable companies, each has an exclusive geographic territory and each is a monopoly within that territory. 5 years ago, some small pocket territories were swapped to provide a more geographically consistent picture for these monopolies. Speaking as one who was swapped from the best of the 3 to the worst, I say that the system sucks.

    • by Thoguth ( 203384 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:37PM (#5400317) Homepage
      The privately owned Union Springs Telephone company in (dirt poor, rural) Bullock County, Alabama, recently announced an expansion of Fiber-to-home internet, cable, and phone service over the next few years.

      Here's a link [] to a news story about it.

      If a mom-n-pop telco can make a profit selling FIBER connections to one of the poorest rural counties in the US, certainly the big telcos could make a profit if they wanted. "Let's get the government to do it for us" is NOT the right answer for everything.
  • by inteller ( 599544 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:47PM (#5399121)
    I've heard too many cases where cities and counties are taking matters into their own hands. Just like city cable, take over your control of broadband and build it out yourself. Screw the phone companies.
    • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:52PM (#5399176) Homepage Journal
      Oh no, not that. Always resist creating yet another government agency to do what the free markey won't. Government agencies are not motivated to make a profit, and are therefore slow to innovate. The government is the biggest and worst monopoly of them all. I know, I used to work for the MTA.
      • Yeah, well I don't see the Bells innovating now either. Well, apparently they say they will, but only if we cave in to blackmail and give them a monopoly. How is that an improvement? Government is what you make it. Corporations with monopolies over infrastructure are much worse because they are completely unaccountable.

      • Anecdotal evidence to the contray is here [].
      • You don't need them to innovate. Just maintain the basic infrastructure (sewer, water, power, copper pairs, co-ax, wireless transmitters, fiber, etc.) Smart people will lease the basics from the city/county for cheap, and innovate on top of them. Want DSL? Pay for a $10 city copper pair, and pay $20 to your choice of DSL ISP. Want phone service? Use the same copper pair, pay for your choice of local carrier.

        Of course, you have to write their charter such that some asshole politician wanting kickbacks doesn't sabotage the whole thing by granting exclusive access to some sleazy outfit wanting to milk users for every dime they've got. BTW, which MTA did you work for?
    • Hey, now is the time! A few cities here sold their TV cable outfits during the boom. Since those shares today fetch pennies rather than dollars, they can buy them back on the cheap and pocket the difference. Some cities are considering this, since service levels have dropped even faster than the share prices.
  • Not news to me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by (1337) God ( 653941 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:48PM (#5399128)
    I've been dealing with the Baby Bells' general stagnation for quite a while now.

    DSL is still not available in my area, and I live near two major California cities. You'd think that with all the major universities and Silicon Valley in California that they'd have little trouble creating good quality DSL home subscriber lines. But, alas, they have yet to deliver.

    I really wish cable modems weren't my only option because they have outages a lot from what I hear, but it's my only choice. Hey, it's either that or a dial-up modem.

    What would you do?

    Join my Slashdot clan []
  • by eudaemon ( 320983 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:49PM (#5399135)

    The "free market" only works when there is some
    sort of balance between competing parties,
    keeping a clear winner from pushing everyone
    off the playing field.

    Granting a monopoly or allowing one to form through competition creates a stagnant monocultural market.

    Any company that stands as the clear winner always
    wants to guarantee future success by closing
    future competition through legislative fiat or intellectual property claims, and sees no
    reason now that they've "won" to minimize
    costs (usually translating into quality) while
    maximizing profit.


    • Repeat three times...

      The Free Market isn't everything.
      The Free Market isn't everything.
      The Free Market isn't everything.

      Sometimes the Free Market has a tendancy to get stuck in chicken-and-egg problems. In some cases, the government decides as a matter of policy to, "lay an egg," simply to get past that impasse. Rural electrification is one example. Regulation of Ma Bell earlier in the 20th century was another. In both cases, the idea was to make a service ubiquitous - to make it basic infrastructure.

      Without government intervention in both cases, I'm not sure what we'd have today. My grandparents had "the Delco system," essentially batteries and charger on their farm prior to rural electrification. Maybe without regulated power and telephone services, we'd have had distributed generation and wireless networks for 30+ years now. Or maybe we'd have an even bigger cultural devide between urban "haves" and rural "have nots" than we do today.

      Even in an urban area, some things require massive physical distribution. Electricity and telephone are two of those. Imagine the chaos with a half-dozen sets of poles distributing through neighborhoods, or half-dozen sets of each utility on each pole. Then pay for the duplication of hanging copper. Or imagine "pole alliances" where two companies decide to work together on a pole, excluding a third, and coming up with exclusive "pole position" contracts to deny competitors.

      We're in a bad mess today, but we got there with some very good reasons. Perhaps at the great bustup/deregulation we should have separated poles and copper from the actual service providers. The poles and copper would still need to be regulated, but at least the service providers could probably be more fully deregulated.
    • First of all, you idea applies more to Microsoft's situation (where they won thier market share) a lot more than it does to the Baby Bells (the government gave them a monopoly by giving them exclusive access to building/maintaining the infrastructure).

      Even after the "Deregulation" of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and it's managed competition plan (UNE-P), the Baby Bells STILL had exclusive access to building/maintain the infrastructure. Sure, They were compelled to resell it, but they still had exclusive access in building/maintaining thanks to Right of Way laws, which are those laws that keep YOU and anybody else from building thier own last mile network.

      Personally, I liked Powell's solution, which was deregulating everything EXCEPT the copper-infrastructure. The Baby-Bells would still have to resell that at the same price they resold it to themselves, BUT new entrants would be compelled to build thier own facilities and fiber networks.

      By forcing entrants to build thier own facilities, you would have given Lucent, Nortel, a nice shot in the arm, and new entrants the opportunity to reduce costs while at the same time making the telecommunications infrastructure more redundant.

      If you want to blame anybody for this mess, blame Commissioner Kevin Martin for really fucking up a good opportunity. Even Powell wanted to keep DSL sharing (He wanted to deregulate fiber, not DSL)
  • Market Flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bludstone ( 103539 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:49PM (#5399136)
    Looks like theres a flaw in the market.

    They were handed a monopoly on a product, but refuse to develop it due to corporate greed. Im sorry, but this is bullshit. Theres a demand and the ONLY reason the supply isnt being filled is due to some perverted hyper-greed. Give people bandwidth dammit. It should be like gas, electricity, and water. A new utility.

    Can the gvt just say "fine, were revoking your monopoly then." ?

    Would they do it?

    This pisses me off.
    • It should be like gas, electricity, and water. A new utility.

      Remember all the headlines about gas and electric bills the last few years? Carefull what you wish for..

      It could make for some interesting conservation commercials during saturday morning cartons (btw, do saturday morning cartoons still exist?)

    • Re:Market Flaw (Score:2, Insightful)

      Obviously it's not a market flaw we're dealing with here but rather flawed logic of the parent post. When government grants corporations monopolies, they are subverting the market place. Government grants a monopoly and then you blame that monopoly for acting contrary to the interests of the consumer. Hello? The Bells are simply doing something undesirable because they now have the authority to do it. If there were competition in the marketplace, they wouldn't have nearly as much freedom to ignore a market segment. And, btw, the solution certainly isn't to make Internet service into a utility, since that only means more regulation.
  • Gotta love this (Score:5, Informative)

    by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:49PM (#5399140) Homepage Journal
    A number of congressmen were overtly hostile on this point, including Representative Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Mr. Tauzin was critical of the regulatory role of the states. He argued that the ruling would result in 51 local procedures with 51 lawsuits and 12 different appeals courts, "ending up at the Supreme Court that ordered the deregulation in the first place."

    But in a letter sent to Mr. Powell in June 2002, Mr. Tauzin himself wrote: "The commission must evaluate the rationale for requiring the unbundling of a network element based upon specific geographic and class-of-customer characteristics of individual markets across the nation. Uniform, national rules do not accurately reflect the state of competition and the unique economic characteristics of individual markets."

    Gotta love the flip-flop action from Tauzin. It's not just the lawyers who'll get rich from these protracted legal battles - by tying this process up in Washington for years on end, the incumbents assure themselves lots of attention (and donations) from the parties on both sides of the issue. I have a feeling that we'll be hearing about this issue for only, say, another decade or so at this rate!
    • Re:Gotta love this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:58PM (#5399252) Journal
      It's good for the D.C advertising market. The Washngton Post was absolutely chock full of advertsing directed at perhaps a dozen people. I would imagine that the radio stations were full of strange commercials.
      It's rather comiic-- multibillion dollar faceless oligopolies, all jockeying for sympathy.
  • Horrible article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cutriss ( 262920 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:50PM (#5399153) Homepage
    Who's got the political agendas here?

    "I believe the order we adopted last week achieves a principled, balanced approach," said Mr. Martin, who has close ties to the White House.

    And what exactly is *that* supposed to mean? Nobody said anything about the White House.

    The critics of the compromise included some congressmen who have been among the most outspoken advocates for the so-called Baby Bells

    Sounds like someone doesn't care for "big business".

    The five members of the Federal Communications Commission defended their new telephone and broadband policy in front of a Congressional hearing today, but they conceded that their compromise proposal, which requires the regional Bell companies to continue to share their phone lines with competitors, left no one happy and was not certain to pump up the flailing telecommunications sector in the near term.

    I'd like to see a direct quote, please. It's not very often that someone in the government admits they fucked up. If they actually *stated* that the compromise didn't really accomplish anything and just made things worse, then why the hell did they push it through?

    Sorry...but the needle on my BS-meter is pinned right now. I have no love for the Baby Bells, but this article just reeks of poor journalism. I'd like to know what really happened, other than some moderately-amusing flamebait comment from Michael Powell.
  • by frenetic3 ( 166950 ) <houston.alum@mit@edu> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:50PM (#5399155) Homepage Journal
    to love verizon.

    "hey, my dsl line went down two weeks ago. i opened up seventeen trouble tickets, and they were each mysteriously closed, but here's the number of the most recent --"
    "would you like a new cell phone?"
    "no, the ticket number is 131-"
    "400 anytime minutes! nationwide long distance!"
    "--055. er, you guys said --"
    "oh, like call waiting?"
    "-- that you'd send someone out yest --"
    "i can add call waiting from here, sir!"
    "-- erday to -- er, no --"
    "ok, your line is activated for call waiting!"
    "um, this is a data line. i have a --"
    "the surcharge will be added to your monthly bill. and i'll go ahead and close up that trouble ticket for you. Thanks for using Verizon!"

  • They act as if they would be doing everybody a favor by building broadband but if they decide to keep with their core business of local and long distance service they are gonna get wrecked by the cable and cell phone companies (at least some of the Bells are smart and are cell companies as well). I don't have or need a phone line or long distance service because of my cell and I have cable for internet, they are gonna get left behind if they don't invest in new areas.
  • mon-OP-y (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by MegaFur ( 79453 )
    It's a game. It's just like Parker Brother's classic Monopoly, except it's made specially for slashdot editors "tat kant spel no thn rite".

    Hey brainiacs, would it *kill* you to add in an AUTOMATIC spell checker? sheesh :-)
  • by kypper ( 446750 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:51PM (#5399169)
    It always works this way. Companies create a niche that revolutionizes the world, then, after a while, monopolize it for their own profit. Enough people complain and the government either creates its own crown corporation, nationalizes it, or strongly regulates it. This works for a time, too. But after a while, government is deemed too bureaucratic, slow and 'behind the times', so it is privatized/legislation is eased, and it starts all over again.

    Unless the government process is altered, that pendulum will never stop.
  • by ceswiedler ( 165311 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:52PM (#5399173)
    Does this mean that I'm going to have to switch to goddamn SBC for my DSL access? I've been more than happy with Earthlink, and the only company I would switch to is SpeakEasy. Both of those only provide me access through Baby Bell infrastructure.

    So these Bells are whining about being forced to demonopolize the telephone infrastructure which the US government financed? They want to be a deregulated monopoly on what they were given for free?
  • Duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:52PM (#5399177) Journal
    Who here (or anywhere) is surprised at this?

    Form a coop [], lease some resellable bandwidth like a Fractional-T1, slap wireless nodes everywhere. "Mesh" networks [] seem to be the latest buzzword. Use them to route around the broken segment -- aka "phone company".

  • So let's move (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nightsweat ( 604367 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:52PM (#5399187)
    No seriously.

    If another stable technically advanced country like Canada or Australia or New Zealand or the UK would like a lot of sophisticated IT talent, get your telcos to offer good network services and set up an American-targeted H1-B-type visa program targeted at American talent.

    You'll be able to pick and choose and will soon have a nice fat booming economy.

    We're pissed about the limits on research being imposed by the asshats in office now anyway, so there's an opportunity here for the taking.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:52PM (#5399188)
    This is exactly why they should've never deregulated DSL in the first place. They're just holding broadband hostage until they can get back full monopoly power over an area. Even if they are granted total monopoly power, it won't have an effect on increasing broadband service. All it'll do is make everything more expensive.

    I just signed up with Earthlink because BellSouth's ISP's TOS are far too irritating and limiting and because their customer support is far, far more knowledgeable. (Just ask people who work for BellSouth's DSLAM; they'll tell you. Bellsouth's Broadband Support doesn't do any diagnostic work first.) It's bad enough that they'll probably be driven out of business, forcing me to have to deal with inferior service, but we'll probably see jacked up prices at no noticeable benefit. Based on the way they currently treat their customers, I sure as heck don't see an end to bandwidth caps and increased service coming down the pipe.

    This childish behavior is nothing but extortion. I hope that another administration can get into office before the FCC runs the consumer Internet into the ground.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:53PM (#5399190) Homepage Journal
    The more lines they build, the more money they lose. It's as simple as that. They're losing money by selling lines to their competition, which I have already spoken strongly against; it's ridiculous. Let other people deploy wireless, or lay their own cable, ala the cable companies.

    But I digress; The real point here is the simple mathematics. If they build more DSL capacity, they have to resell more DSL capacity, and they lose more money. Thank you, FCC. First you made it so that most people couldn't get DSL because you imposed nasty penalties for downtime. This led to pacific bell shortening their supported range from 17,000 feet to 14,000 feet. I don't know the formula for measuring area assuming that every wire was straight which it isn't, but that's a serious drop in coverage. Now, you continue to force them to resell capacity, which leads to further inability for people to get DSL. Without all this overregulation, Pacific Bell would have been able to implement "Fasttrack" DSL (Now called Project Pronto, it's the DSL on fiber infrastructure project which was supposed to put DSL in every pac bell home by 2002) already and everyone would be able to get DSL. THAT would be the point to start talking about forcing them to resell capacity, not now, and certainly not when you forced the issue in the first place.

    Then again, since when does the FCC act in the interest of the american people? They act only in their own best interest. It behooves them to keep control of everything they can, and they do.

    • by sean.peters ( 568334 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:11PM (#5399395) Homepage
      The ILECs have only themselves to blame for losing money on each DSL line. The terms of the original deregulation agreement were that the ILECs had to lease capacity to CLECs at the same rates as they leased them to their own broadband subsidiaries. Since they lease to their subsidiaries at below cost rates in an effort to make them appear more profitable, they are forced to offer the same artificially low price to their competitors. If they would stop whining about this situation and raise the rates for themselves as well as their competitors, maybe they wouldn't be in such a fix... but they'd rather cry to the government, hoping Uncle Sam will make the big bad Earthlinks of the world go away and leave them alone. Sean
    • Amen to that. It's important to remember that neither the FCC nor PacBell have any real interest in the customers. They're merely a neccessary evil that has to be put up with in order to make money. (For a corporation, this is profits, for a governmental agency, this is votes.) If they could simply get the money without having to do any work (a.k.a. the IRS), they'd happily screw us all over.

      Once you understand this principle, though, you can pit the two sides against each other, with hopefully the common man getting something out of the whole deal.

      It's a dangerous thing to fight with giants, but we are many and it is our only chance.

    • "Without all this overregulation, Pacific Bell would have been able to implement "Fasttrack" DSL (Now called Project Pronto, it's the DSL on fiber infrastructure project which was supposed to put DSL in every pac bell home by 2002) already and everyone would be able to get DSL. THAT would be the point to start talking about forcing them to resell capacity, not now, and certainly not when you forced the issue in the first place." I'm on the east coast, so am not familiar with PacBell issues. What was it about the regulations that prevented PacBell from deploying their "Fasttrack" service?
    • by boarder ( 41071 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:54PM (#5399839) Homepage
      Dude, before you post something, maybe you should have some insight into what you are posting...

      First, last week the FCC took away linesharing for broadband (but kept it in place for telephone service). So your argument that they have no incentive to roll out more DSL capacity is crap... In order for a company to lease DSL space NOW is for them to also offer phone service. The point of the post is that the Bells are pissed that the FCC didn't take away linesharing completely. Since they didn't get their way completely, they are going to balk on the promises they made when lobbying for the FCC to take action.

      Second, your argument that other people lay their own cable is both not possible and ridiculous. It is ILLEGAL for a company to just lay fibre... The government has granted this monopoly to the phone company (try to dig for a line and see what your local telco says about it). Laying your own cable like the cable companies is ridiculously expensive (note that my father still can't get cable to his house because it's not economically reasonable for the cable co... but he can get phone service fine). It is also not smart... we already have three sets of wires to each living space (phone, cable, electricity), why lay a third or a fourth for competing internet providers?

      Third, they aren't losing money to their competition. They leased the line to the CLEC at exactly the same cost as they lease it to their own DSL subsidiary. Not only that, but the CLECs have their own equipment and enormous networks for DSL, they just need access to the last mile.

      The more they built before the FCC took away linesharing for broadband, the more money they made (linesharers paid the same cost as the Bells to use the new lines); but they didn't make AS MUCH as they would without competition... Now they have no competition and are still balking at using the government granted power just so they can make even more money than they already do.
  • Telco greed (Score:4, Funny)

    by pcraven ( 191172 ) < minus punct> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:54PM (#5399215) Homepage
    I agree. The fact that DSL isn't widely deployed is because of all the telco greed. I have a lot of telco stock, so I'm happy with this. With these recent rulings, my stock will go even higher!

    Oh wait. The telco's aren't making a profit. And my stock isn't worth enough for me to spend the transaction fee to sell it. Telco's are bleeding like there is no tomorrow because they are investing in all this high-tech internet stuff that didn't make them any money.

    Are you sure the telco's aren't really an internet charity?

  • seems that the deregulation does not force them to do it. So why would they? I am more amazed that FCC gives them anything for free, and expects that they would actually do something on a verbal promise? Welcome to capitalism -- to get a company (especially a monopoly!) to do something for the public good, they *must* be forced to do it.

    Any time I mention DSL as a non-viable option in many locations, I get ./ readers pouncing on me and claiming that it's everywhere. Well, DSL isn't everywhere, and nothing is changing in that respect.

  • I can't see why they care so much about his ruling. Local land lines really seem to be going the way of the old telegraph network. Will be a niche market soon enough. Unless you live far from a population center, what do you need a land line for?

    In fact, most people I know who keep a land line keep it for dial-up internet access because broadband is too darn expensive. So the FCC eliminates competition in the emerging market and enforces it in the dying one? Lost me on that one.

    First of all, why do the Baby Bells care so much about the land lines? It cannot possibly be a growth market, or even a nice stable cash cow.

    Second of all, why the stagnating upside-down ruling on competition?
  • by slykens ( 85844 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:57PM (#5399246)
    I am not a big fan of centralized government control or government run programs. That being said...

    I have come to the conclusion that the most beneficial situation would be for the local government to own the actual cable plant for its municipality. With current technology the gov't could easily create a situation where competition occurs because *everyone* has equal access to the cable plant. If one company can deliver a service over the last mile then all can.

    The only other option would be to forcefully divest the monopolies of their cable plants ala the breakup of the Bell empire in '84. The cable plant operators would then have an incentive to sell access to as many people as possible. In fact this option may be best as some services (ptp T1 for example) don't really need any hardware connected to them other than what would naturally exist to operate the network.

  • by DigitalSorceress ( 156609 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:00PM (#5399282)
    I really get the feeling that phone companies don't actually want anything to do with DSL. A friend mentioned that Phone Companies tend to like virtual circuits so they impose the totally unnecessarry and (at least in the beginning) buggy-as-hell PPP Over Ethernet instead of just running it as a bridge.

    I've helped a few folks get their DSL connections running and in every case, the phone companies have managed to seriously screw something up.

    I had one guy ask them to put it on the line he used for modem and fax, (cuz the wiring for that was already in his office), but when I got to his house they had put it on the wrong line - I had to rearrange a bunch of his inside wiring to get things set the way he wanted it.

    Another time, the Phone Co had not bothered to test the person's line to make sure it didn't have any bridging or repeaters in it. (I'm not an expert on DSL, but I understand that the line needs to be clear of repeaters and other active components or the DSL doesn't work right) it took a couple weeks after their supposed "on" date to get an appointment to have a tech clear the line.

    My own experience was one of frustration as the installer (this was early on - back when they wouldn't LET you do your own install) refused to proceed when he saw I was running NT4.0 instead of Win 9x.

    • That's funny... my DSL connection was a breeze to set up, it's had perfect uptime in the almost 3 months I've had it, I wasn't pressured into buying anything else. In fact, I was surprised how simple it went and how reliable it's been. Maybe I'm the exception, but all these horror stories I've been reading about simply haven't come to pass. Yet. And I've seen no indication they will.
  • You give somebody a monopoly and then they start monopolizing things! The nerve of them!
  • Baby Bell Blatantly Blasts "Bandwidth Bandit's" Blogs
  • So let me get this straight. The FCC gave the bells a monopoly on data to further the development of broadband, and now it's not being furthered? No crap! I mean, what's a monopoly's motivation to innovate? THANK THE TECHNO GODS that at least there are alternative ways of getting broadband in some places. Perhaps this will at lease case *some* competition.
  • by DrunkBastard ( 652218 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:07PM (#5399341) Homepage
    What's this about the FCC granting them a monopoly on DSL?!? All that the FCC said, in regards to dsl service, is that the incumbants no longer have to provide UNE-P's, or in slightly more laymans terms, they no long have to allow line-sharing of their phone servuced loops to ISPs. They still HAVE TO PROVIDE unbundled loop access (unless it's a fiber loop), for dedicated line services.

    This puts a fairly heavy damper on line-shared ADSL services, but you know what? The incumbants still CAN NOT provided end user dsl services.

    But what about services like Qwest DSL you ask? Qwest does NOT provide the internet bound portion of the service, they simply handle the local loop, then hand off the connection to another partnered ISP. It's called their MegaHost service. The so-called Qwest direct dsl is provided through MSN.

    I really, really hate this mentalitly of complaining about prices, always wanting cheaper! cheaper! But at the same time calling for Better! Better! I should be able to have a 1 mbit up and down dsl connection, guaranteed speeds, guaranteed 24x7 for 5 dollars a month! Blah I say

  • Public Utility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Halo- ( 175936 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:12PM (#5399413)
    So here's what I don't get. How much do the Bells, AOL-Time-Warners, and other people "owe" the public for the resources they use?

    It seems to me that if I have to look at ugly utility polls, have land all carved up for right-of-ways, and otherwise make the infrastructure these folks depend on possible, they ought to be somewhat accountable to the public.

    I'm certainly not saying I'd rather not have heat, light, and cable, but since they require such a tight intergration with the everyday life of the public, what does the public get out of it?

    My parents don't have cable, but I can't count the times the linemen from TW have crashed down their driveway, tromped through my mom's garden, and generally made a mess to fix the lines which run along the back edge of the property. TW should be allowed to do this, but shouldn't they be forced to be just as accessable to the public?
    • Re:Public Utility (Score:3, Interesting)

      Excellent point -- that is the concept of communications being a "public utility".

      For this discussion, let Public Utility = something that we collectively provide for each individual to use. We collectively regulate utilities, because allowing individuals or groups of individuals (corporations) to manage them creates a liability for abuse.

      Here's my question--what makes something a public utility? IANAL (or A Congresscritter), so I can only base my understanding on what I've seen in practice:

      Pretty much everybody uses it

      It's regarded as necessary to our way of life

      It was created (at least initially) with public funds

      Public does not generally have a real choice between competing providers

      Because of the nature of the product/service, the de-facto monopoly is the best way to manage the it.


      Entitlement is key: High speed internet access (and comms infrastructure in general) has a hard time becoming a public utility because we don't believe we are entitled to it.

      "Entitled to it" does not mean "deserving of it".

      Entitlement means the product or service is a significant part of the way of life of the dominant culture. Without the thing to which I am entitled, I am cheated out of being part of the culture I am forced to support--through taxes, obediance to the law, etc.

      Entitlement means that it is somebody else's responsibility to make sure that I get the product or service.

      Entitlement means that we agree we should collectively subsidize something, and that thing should be provided to each individual who is entitled to it:

      As a culture, our actions show we believe we're entitled to: roads, water, electric, sewer, gas. Some people believe we are entitled the protections enumerated to us in the Constitution. Some believe we are entitled to all rights not specifically enumerated to the Federal or State Governments. For some people, entitlement also includes good food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education. Some believe that we should collectively assure a minimum standard of living for all, no matter what the individual chooses to contribute to the group. Some believe that each individual should succeed or fail on their own decisions.

      Clearly, there is some difference of opinion (Liberal/Conservative/Libertarian, yadda yadda yadda; keep it on topic, folks.) as to exactly what we are "entitled to".

      In general, we find it hard to convince ourselves that we are "entitled" to a fast internet connection. It's sort of like saying "We're entitled to low cost high quality cable TV--with no commercials" Some would say without censorship; others would say we are entitled to "good clean kid-safe entertainment". Whatever. But are we entitled to it? Is it neccesary? Necessary for what?

      Personally, I'd rather do without (I mean, is dialup *really* that awful?) than say "Please provide for me, O Great and Wise Leaders, for I am Not Competent to Fend for Myself"


  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:14PM (#5399420) Homepage
    "Baby Bells Promise Broadband Stagnation"

    So glad to hear that they have finally found a promise they can keep. They've missed two DSL install dates so far at my place.

  • If they want to act like babies - ok fine. More business for Cable providers and this leaves plenty of room for development of power line and other forms of broadband

  • In my area there are 2 ways of getting broadband: comcast cable and verizon DSL. when you break it down, verizon is $20 bucks more, for inferior service. some friends of mine got the upgraded DSL(1.5 downstream) and it went down fairly often. I've never had my cable modem drop out. and it is 40 per month if you have comcast cable and 45 if you dont. for the same downstream rate. and 24 hour support. however, when i signed up they didnt make me aware of the self install option (should have asked anyway) so i let their service man come out. he couldnt get it to work, and left. i sure was pissed that i wasted 30 bucks. it was entertaining to see his face when i told him i wasnt getting an IP address. his jaw dropped upon my use of that obscure computer jargon....
  • by squarooticus ( 5092 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:17PM (#5399454) Homepage
    ...if we hadn't granted Ma Bell a monopoly on rights-of-way a long time ago.

    As a libertarian, the concept of a regulated, government-granted monopoly is anathemic to me; however, what is the alternative here? Do we give the Baby Bells free reign to do whatever they want with the existing copper, and refuse other companies the ability to add lines to those rights-of-way?

    I'm all for deregulation, but not unless the entire thing is deregulated: it must be possible for new companies to lay their own copper or run their own wireless WAN's without government regulating what lines can go where or handing out wireless spectrum as campaign donation quid pro quos. Don't do a California-style partial deregulation in which some parties are forced out of business due to the government's stepping on some necks but not others.

    Also, where are all these goddamned leftist posters all coming from? If the government suddenly owned all the copper and ran all the DSL lines, we'd be stuck with lowest-common-denominator access. I wouldn't be able run a server with a static IP (as I do with [] today); and I'd pay LOW, LOW advertised prices while Uncle Sam reaches into my wallet for some extra cash to subsidize access for people unwilling to pay the cost of it. Fuck them: I did well in school and work hard and should get something extra for that. DSL IS NOT A RIGHT!

    • how do you tell the difference between people who did bad in school, and therefore don't deserve as much as you, and people who did bad in school out of no fault of their own, and therefore deserve as much as you?

      do you deny such people exist?

      is the system perfect?

      you sound very honest. follow your instincts. but i regret to inform you that i don't think you have arrived yet at a personal philosophy which truly understands the way the world works. you are only halfway there. keep traveling.

      true morality is fractal... for every rule, there is an exception. reductive morality can crush people and grind them down to a soulless existence. a fundamentalist is moral, but at the expense of capturing the complexity of life. they spend their lives waging war with that which makes the world beautiful, and so destroy beauty.

      blind adherence to a moral code that does not capture the essentially fractal nature of life is doomed to failure, and doomed to make everyone it touches suffer.

      that is the problem with your libertarian approach: it is fundamentalist in approach, like a religion. any fundamentalist moral code is simplistic and fails to capture the fractal complexities of life. all fundamentalist moral codes cause suffering by failing to address the complexities of life.

      i have a message for you: there is no simple answers in life. your libertarian approach is simplisitic. it reduces the beauty of life to suit your needs to "make sense of it."

      your desire and your anal need to "make sense of it" is of secondary importance to preserving the complexity and beauty of life. you will not grind down that beauty and complexity of life to suit your simplistic needs. instead, life will take your simplisitic understanding and make it more complex to reflect reality.

      in short, grow up.
  • A friend of mine in Switzerland says that to get the internet there, he just had to plug in the wall and he was charged by the minute. He didn't have to do any insane set up or anything?

    I have a feeling he's pulling my leg, but I am not sure. Can anyone elaborate on this, and compare it to the American way of remaining on hold for 4 hours to get an id and password?
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:25PM (#5399529)
    Then hook up linksys wireless hubs on every power pole in the city. Then we would be happy. Untill canser kicks in from the radation.
  • by cphirman ( 454743 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:31PM (#5399584) Journal
    The solution here is really simple. Make the baby bells choose between either owning the infrastructure or selling services to the public. They can do one or the other, but not both. There will be one company that runs the Central Office, etc. and many companies competing to provide services to the end user. This system would give consumers a real choice and would be profitable to the service providers who offer a good features/price ratio.
    • by 4/3PI*R^3 ( 102276 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:39PM (#5399657)
      This is the best common sense solution, but it's not the best business solution.

      The best business solution is to lock customers into a service and infrastructure combination thus making it difficult for consumers to hop to a competitor.

      Cell phone providers do it, Satellite TV companies do it, Even big ISPs like MSN and AOL try to do it with their IM software.

      The Baby Bells could build a profitable network that could deliver broadband to every building in the country. But it's not a question of profit they are complaining about its a question of how much profit.

      The baby bells want it all.
  • screw them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tkrabec ( 84267 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:14PM (#5400077) Homepage
    Create neighborhood Co-ops lay fibre and connect to other co-ops. Go wireless or laser(home brew) where you cannot lay fibre. Get connections to local hosting companies and Larger tier1 vendors where possible.

    -- Tim
  • sputnik'd future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by transami ( 202700 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:44PM (#5401034) Homepage
    competitve markets have price wars. funny T-1 connection prices barely how many years? a couple of decades now?

    bandwidth costs money. but dark fiber doesn't compute.

    for a $40 phone line, I pay over $10 in taxes (not including sales tax!)

    FCC regulations to the resuce? come on, greased palms are faster than my dialup ;-)



    Think, "Communication Frogs". Think: "Lillypad Revolution".

    For "When law begins to break you, it's time to break the law." -tsunami
  • by Dave21212 ( 256924 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:51PM (#5401087) Homepage Journal

    Here's what Verizon had to say... From an email, and from their website []

    Please respond to Employee Communication/EMPL/NY/Bell-Atl@VZNotes

    To: All Employees
    Subject: Seidenberg, Barr Comment on FCC Ruling

    CEO Ivan Seidenberg and Executive Vice President and General Counsel Bill Barr provided additional public comment Monday regarding last week's controversial FCC rulings on telecom competition.

    Speaking at a Merrill Lynch analysts' conference, Seidenberg said Verizon will take legal action against the FCC ruling, declaring that the Commission's policies are legally flawed and fail as a means of creating sustainable competition in the industry.

    Verizon had hoped for regulatory relief from having to provide deep discounts to competitors for network elements, also known as UNE-P. The FCC ruled instead that the decision would be left up to each individual state and the District of Columbia, through the jurisdiction's public service commission.

    "You cannot take a national market like this and have 51 jurisdictions make a study and come up with any pattern that will drive consistency in the industry," Seidenberg said.

    Seidenberg predicted that the FCC - as it has twice before - would lose again when the courts ultimately rule on the new policies.

    "Our view is that (UNE Interconnection)...would eventually die anyway," Seidenberg said. "Because in the long term, technology would displace the bootstrapping of other people connecting to our network."

    Seidenberg said that the FCC's ruling theoretically left some upside potential for Verizon in broadband markets, but added that the company needs to see the written order before assessing the practical impacts in this area. For example, the FCC's press release indicates that phone companies "may not retire any copper loops...without first receiving approval from the relevant state commission."

    Barr further addressed the broadband issue in a statement to the media. He said that while the language in the ruling is unclear, if the intent is to give the states a veto over whether we can replace obsolete copper facilities as we install broadband facilities, then "the FCC will have done precious little to deregulate broadband."

    Barr said that with such a veto, regulators could require that local phone companies deploying broadband facilities maintain two parallel networks, burdening new investment with massive additional costs. Likewise, regulators could impose onerous rules on new broadband facilities in return for their consent to retire the old.

    "Either way, such an approach does not give phone companies any assurance that their opportunity to earn a return on massive and risky investments in broadband will not be thwarted by regulators," Barr said. "Unless this issue is clarified in the Commission's upcoming order, the FCC's effort to free broadband from regulation will be illusory."
  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @07:13PM (#5401337) Homepage Journal
    "Gripe gripe gripe! We still have to share our voice lines!"

    Listen, SBC, the reason I use Speakeasy and not you guys for my internet is because you have crappy customer service. Either improve your CS or pick up your marbles and go home. Same goes for Verizon - ESPECIALLY Verizon - who has all the technical greatness of GTE and all the crappy service of Bell Atlantic.

    And if you don't give me an option, I'll move off again.

  • by prisoner ( 133137 ) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @07:28PM (#5401467)
    but the only real competitor (on a grand scale, wifi is still too small) to the baby bells wrt internet connectivity are the cable companies. They could swoop in and make a fucking killing but they appear to be disorganized and generally unenthusiastic about the prospect. Comcast (in my area) has a "Business Cable" deal that gives you 1.5/512 (or something like that) with a couple of static IP's for $99 a month and that includes the modem. As an added bonus, once you get things ready, they install it in about 2 days. This is in contrast to Verizon whom it usually takes 30-45 days to get their shit together. The only problem is that you have to bombard Comcast with a steady stream of phone calls to get their ass in gear to get the installation pricing together. I've always thought that if they would allow me to sell it, I could do a land-office business in it....
  • by Nemus ( 639101 ) <> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @09:15PM (#5402279) Journal

    What the hell did that comittee think? That they'd wave thier magic wand and the baby bells would suddenly turn into good little boys and girls? Were these guys drug tested before they ruled on this?

    The simple fact of the matter is that the bells proved the smarter of the two sides here. There are numerous agreements dating back to the early part of the 1900s between phone companies and the government, but most of these were good faith actions, surprisingly, at least on the part of the government. When faced with the dilemna of providing stable, reliable communications for the new century across the country, the government realized that private companies would not only be best suited for this, but they would also willingly support the absolutely enormous initial investment, as long as they were allowed to play by different rules than other industries.

    Due to this, so called baby bells have had a virtual monopoly ever since. And they're not stupid. Phone companies are some of the most intelligently planned companies in the world, at least as far as long term strategy is concerned.

    When they realized how much capital was to be gained, my local bell, Bellsouth, aggresively entered into long distance, after first spearheading the charge to get legislation passed that would let them play the long distance game with the other kids. And now, I'm employed in the sales department of their cellular branch, Cingular, which is one of their smarter moves to date.

    Simply put, more and more people are doing what I do, and using my cell phone as my home phone. Rather than pay two bills, one for a landline and the other for the cell, I just enjoy the benefit of having my home phone with me at all times. Also, much like the earlier incarnations of the phone companies, cellular companies have massive agreements in place where they all use each others towers and relay points, and aggressively discourage, through lobbying and downright ugly business practices, the entry into the market of any new, radical companyies.

    For example, take Cricket. Cricket allows unlimited local calls in your home service area, with an aggressive long distance plan. Only one problem: once outside your home footprint, Cricket no longer works, because it cannot receive a signal. This is because the larger cellular companies have unsigned agreements in place that prevent the sharing of resources, like signal towers and receivers, to anyone who is not already in the game. Competition? Ha!!

    So, faced with the threat of their precious landlines and preferential zoning laws and permits being rendered obsolete by cellular technology, they simply all rushed in, then closed the doors, thus maintaining survivability, as well as the status quo.

    The Government never stood a chance, they've been either outflanked or happily prison-raped by the phone companies at every turn.

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.