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AT&T Conning Kentucky & Kansas Into Gutting Oversight, DSL
AT&T Written Bill Passes Kansas House 118 to 1
by Karl Bode 12:32PM Monday Feb 25 2013
Verizon and AT&T want to get out of maintaining or upgrading the tens of millions of DSL users so they can focus on wireless, a move that makes obvious business sense from their perspectives. Verizon Wireless isn't unionized, so Verizon gets rid of union headaches. Wireless services are less regulated, so carriers can get rid of consumer protections. Wireless is easier to install, cheaper to maintain, and the companies make oodles more money by charging users $15 per gigabyte.

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The problem? The move leaves tens of millions of DSL and plain-old-telephone (POTS) users in a pinch. Hanging up on these users gives cable a huge monopoly on fixed line broadband, and forces DSL users to pay much more money for heavily capped LTE services ($15 per gigabyte). That's assuming those DSL users will have additional options when AT&T and Verizon cuts the cord.

Higher prices, worse service, and increased monopoly power in a sector already known for limited competition isn't going to be a good outcome for many of these markets. AT&T and Verizon's plan is one of the most significant shifts in telecom in the last thirty years, and it's somehow flying under the radar among tech news outlets.

To make this shift possible both AT&T and Verizon are going state by state, bull rushing politicians, hoping none of them will think about any of the deeper issues raised by this migration. State political Luddites have been easily duped for years by a quick handshake and some telco cash, and this effort appears to be no exception. An AT&T-written bill is speeding through the Kentucky state legislative system as is a similar bill in Kansas, where despite the fact it guts nearly all consumer protections it has sped through the Kasnsas House 118 to 1 without real debate of any kind:
A 2006 state law deregulated prices for bundles of services that included wireless, Internet access, cable TV or other video and moved toward deregulating rates for local service in exchanges where competition existed. A 2011 law went further, allowing companies to avoid most state price caps. This year’s bill would allow those companies to avoid even the Kansas Corporation Commission’s consumer protection regulations and minimum quality-of-service standards.
Like Kentucky, AT&T sold politicians on the idea by arguing that the shift to wireless requires "modernized" regulations, intentionally ignoring essentially all of the finer details. The bills, as is now status quo, provide AT&T with absolutely everything it wants, while Kansas consumers see less competition and higher prices for data. Despite the fact you'd be hard pressed historically to find any instance where deregulating AT&T didn't hurt consumers, the same story, mouthed by the usual folks, appears to be replaying itself ad infinitum.

59 comments .. click to read

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Looking at the bigger picture

2 recommendations

reply to chgo_man99

Re: nice (biased?) article

The article you quote clearly points out the reason for the difference is lack of competition here vs. incredible competition in Europe. It is also talking about the 'quality' from a shareholder point of view, not from a customer point of view.

I guess you could take the stance that we should have monopolies because that gives them the ability to squeeze customers for more money to invest. Such a stance is anti-capitalistic though, and another example of why business actually hates the concept of the free market.


2 recommendations

reply to FFH5

Re: Welcome to the WIRELESS 21st century

said by FFH5:

The under 30's group gets it. They have pretty much abandoned wired POTS and DSL.

Sorry, but wired connections aren't going anywhere. At current $/GB rates, if I switched to wireless my monthly bill will be over $15,000.

The reason DSL died is it's SLOW. Really, really slow. The absolute best, topmost tier around here is only ~2 mbps more then the slowest cable plan you can get, and you can only get that if you're practically next to the central office.



Etobicoke, ON

3 recommendations

reply to FFH5
Please stop making me laugh. This is such a joke. Wireless isn't even close to replacing wired connections (as in Internet, not voice traffic) with the useless caps and ridiculously high prices. If wireless was rolled out to replace wireline the network would collapse.

Heave Steve, for the good of the country

5 recommendations

There is no government any longer....

... just corporate kleptocracy and their bought & paid for sock puppets.