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Senators Taking Sides In AT&T/T Mobile Merger

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.

Cellphones 124

Sniper98G writes "US senators have no official power to block the AT&T/T Mobile merger. But that has not stopped them from making strong recommendations to the FCC and the department of justice. This whole situation has left me asking 'If the US senate and house are so concerned about a Triploy in wireless communication, where are the hearings about why most US household only have access to one or two wired communication providers?'"

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This is not what you think (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833266)

They had plenty of time to "take positions" earlier but remained silent. I have to wonder if this has more to do with collecting campaign funding than actually caring about a cause.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833402)

Not to mention, that with the exception of Al Franken, there was near total silence on that NBC/Comcast abomination.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834092)

Mentioning Al Franken in the presence of self proclaimed "conservatives" is like waving a red flag at a bull. They will stampede to proclaim the NBC/Comcast merger as a shining beacon of free market supremacy and the best thing for the consumer since sliced bread.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834300)

You don't even have to mention Al Franken to get the "conservatives" to stampede to proclaim the NBC/Comcast merger as the best thing since sliced bread, they will naturally do it. I would say with Franken's record in the Senate I am seriously considering voting for him next time. Last time around I didn't vote for either since Franken's talk show persona was so different from how he was running I didn't know what one to believe, but I was sick of the lies and BS from Coleman.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836584)

Last time around I didn't vote for either since Franken's talk show persona was so different from how he was running I didn't know what one to believe

I can only assume you're basing your opinion of his talk show "persona" on what you heard about it, rather than first hand experience. I lean right on most things, but loved his show on Air America. It wasn't at all balanced, and it didn't pretend to be. But it was meticulously fact-based, and often featured Republican guests who were allowed to speak their peace and engage in honest, interesting conversation. It was the closest thing to real debate I've seen in my politically aware life.

It was the anti-Fox news, and so pilloried by the Right (but rarely with any specifics).

Re:This is not what you think (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36837472)

I did listen to it and to me he seemed a bit far to the left for me. I lean libertarian quite a bit but like you like listening to radio that I don't agree with as it allows me to be more informed and it can challenge you beliefs. Since he isn't on the air anymore I usually listen to Thom Hartmann on my drive home who also seems to try to have honest debates, but he does get into a shouting match some times. It is on a delay here in the twin cities and is on air from 2pm to 5pm. That said I wouldn't vote for Hartmann for the same reasons that I didn't vote for Franken his radio persona seems committed to his belief and if he ran as more of a moderate I would think he was pandering.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835946)

Mentioning Al Franken in the presence of self proclaimed "conservatives" is like waving a red flag at a bull. They will stampede to proclaim the NBC/Comcast merger as a shining beacon of free market supremacy and the best thing for the consumer since sliced bread.

What an apropos analogy. The advent of sliced bread was hailed as a time and labor saving wonder. But people lost control of what was in the bread. When you cut bread into thin layers the increased surface area provides more opportunity for mold to take hold. Also, moisture is lost at every cut, allowing the bread to go stale faster than whole loaf bread. These problems are overcome with additives not used in home baked bread. Most people won't bother to make bread, and thus are locked into what is sold at the local store. In 2008, the U.S. bread market reached $20.5 billion, a free market triumph of epic proportions... as long as you don't care about what you are eating.

Re:This is not what you think (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833426)

No, it isn't purely about campaign funds (though not saying that it doesn't come into the equation). I see this sort of thing ALL the time at work. I think of it as the "Me too, I have input!" syndrome. Take a middle or senior manager, then talk to them about something they have no clue about or haven't ever spoken about, then count to three and get interrupted at two - at which point the chime in with (most of the time) some totally irrelevant input, sometimes totally wrong input, or bring up a "new" point that was already discussed in detail by people who know what they are talking about in the last meeting.

Do these points bring value to a conversation? Nope. Do they help the rest of the people in a meeting? Nope. Do they make the person look like they are involved? Sure, to others who also have no clue - perhaps they even make the person look smart to others with even less clue.

Now, I present Exhibit A. The career politician. These folks spend their entire lives in the above syndrome. Sadly, most of the time they aren't managed out of the company or in this case voted out of office.

Re:This is not what you think (3, Interesting)

Grave (8234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833656)

The "Me too, I have input!" syndrome, as you put it, is still about getting re-elected, if you ask me. Why else would these people chime in on a subject they can't control and have little knowledge of? To stay in the public eye, and be able to say "I opposed this" or "I supported this" when their next opponent in the campaign cycle decides to challenge them.

End re-election concerns by going to single terms, and I bet most political posturing and useless activities like this would end (or at least become significantly less).

Re:This is not what you think (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834012)

The "Me too, I have input!" syndrome, as you put it, is still about getting re-elected, if you ask me.

You get it any time you have a committee, no matter how people are chosen to serve. I put it down to the mammalian scent mark urge. You know how the neighbors dog insists on pissing on your gatepost just to say "I was here" to other passing dogs? It's exactly the same, and to about the same effect on the thing getting pissed on.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834318)

So basically you are saying this is political cock waving.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835606)

Is there anything that happens in Washington that isn't political cock waving/cock measuring?

Re:This is not what you think (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836502)

Is there anything that happens in Washington that isn't political cock waving/cock measuring?

The refractory period. Both the actual one and for the one of about the same length after an election.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

DiademBedfordshire (1662223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834146)

End re-election concerns by going to single terms, and I bet most political posturing and useless activities like this would end (or at least become significantly less).

What about the few good career politicians? Al Franken, Ron Paul , ect. I would hate to lose them after just one term. But that's just two examples in what 500+ congressmen.

Re:This is not what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834324)

Al Franken??????????? He's only been there for less than 1 term. How in 'h' can you judge a senator with less than than 6 years of experience?

Re:This is not what you think (2)

kryliss (72493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834874)

Apparently the same people that "trust" a canidate with less than a year of political experience to be a president.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835624)

By less than a year, you mean 2 in the US Senate, along with at least 10 in his State Senate?

I think of Obama as (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836332)

Never having had to win a reasonably contested election until the one for President.

Seriously, he never did.

His state senate seat was Democratic, which means no Republican reasonably has any chance of winning. The first time in 1996 he had his only serious competition disqualified on a signature challenge, the very person who appointed him as her successor when she decided to run for higher office. In 1998 he ran unopposed in the primary, winning against the token Republican in the election. In 2002 he ran unopposed in both the primary and the election.

In 2004 his supporters helped Jack Ryan's divorce case be opened, releasing details that caused his only real competition to bow out of the race. He only had to go up against the last-minute token Republican from out of state.

1994-2008, not one hard-fought campaign win, one campaign loss, and no government executive experience.

How the hell did we elect a person like this to the office of President?

Even Sarah Palin had a better resume with city council (reelected once), mayor (elected against an incumbent, reelected against serious competition), president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors, won the Republican gubernatorial primary against a political powerhouse former US Senator and gubernatorial incumbent, then the election despite being outspent by a Democrat who was the previous governor.

Re:I think of Obama as (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836544)

What the hell does experience campaigning have to do with actually doing anything?

It means he coasted to power (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36837264)

He never had to fight for it, never had to prove to the people he was the better person for the job.

It was handed to him all the way up to the end, and then he only had to run against the old codger McCain who couldn't inspire a Muslim to kill a Jew, and the wacko Palin who drove away the moderate Republicans that were McCain's base.

Re:I think of Obama as (1)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836612)

And he's doing a better job as President than most people who have ever held that office, and he's certainly doing better than any who have held it in my lifetime.

The fact is, there is no experience which can qualify someone for President of the US. There is no other job like it, anywhere in the world.

I'd there are a few jobs that disqualify someone from being a good President, though. Anyone who has been in a position of power in a major corporation, anyone who has been in the military, anyone who has been in the financial industry, anyone who has spent too much time in Congress, anyone who has been in the oil industry, almost anyone who is from Texas, or anyone from the MAFIAA. The main concept being that government is not a business and shouldn't be run like one, and professional killers don't make good Presidents either.

As for Palin, governor of Alaska is not even in the same class as being mayor of a big city. The state is a bunch of nothing, and makes money on oil. And she's proven to be really good at quitting halfway through. As far as qualifications go, I don't think she's really even up to saying "would you like fries with that?"

Re:I think of Obama as (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836622)

How 'bout instead of looking for leaders who are good at winning elections, we look for some who have a vision and are good at leading?

I don't think Obama fits into either of these roles, but to base your opinion on who should and should not be president on who is the best campaigner is asinine, and at the root of America's problems.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834372)

The few good politicians that have, follow, and run on principals other than I want to be a career politician just get drowned out and called the extreme nut jobs by the rest of their party.I would also throw Dennis Kucinich in as a good politician. In my years of following politics it seems that if both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are for something it is probably a good thing, and if they are against it it is probably a very bad thing. Too bad that when they are in agreement the rest of the house and senate seem to vote the other way.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835630)

What about when they disagree? Dennis Kucinich is very much in favor of Universal Health Care, whereas Ron Paul is adamantly opposed to it.

Re:This is not what you think (2)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836016)

You know, with issues as complex as Universal Health Care I think there is plenty of room for intelligent and principled people to disagree. Let's let them debate the REAL issues and maybe come up with a good solution. I never mind discussing issues with intelligent people I disagree with, even if in the end we still disagree, because I feel like I've gained something from the exchange (hopefully a mutual feeling). On the other hand, arguing with somebody touting the party line is just tiring - I gain nothing but slogans, and know that my words are falling on deaf ears.

The problem is that it isn't people of intelligence and principle who end up leading the debates - it is people touting sound-bytes to get re-elected or otherwise benefit personally.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835972)

Dennis Kucinich has a history of of consistently ignored the needs of the people in the district he allegedly represents to go on ill-fated presidential runs in 2000 and 2004 and considering that his current Ohio district is likely to be eliminated in redistricting is looking to run in Washington St.

Re:This is not what you think (1)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836680)

I think thats partly true. More so in contested offices.

Someone like Barney Frank can be as blunt and to the point about what he feels and thats exactly the reason he gets re-elected. That being said he represents a district where thats exactly what his constituents want.

The problem is when there needs to be all out pandering in order to get elected. Then you seldom get what you think you're getting when you elect someone.

California (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835404)

>

End re-election concerns by going to single terms, and I bet most political posturing and useless activities like this would end (or at least become significantly less).

Sadly no. Just look at California that have relative strict limits. The first term legislators are all high and mighty – and get nothing done. The second term they figure out how things work – but they don’t.

Some are too busy trying to figure out how to run for the next office.
Nobody is willing to make long term compromises [i.e. the hard choices] because there is no long term pay off.
And there is no leadership to steer the whole thing.

No, what you want is a nice mixture of new and old. You want old because they can provided the long term leadership needed. You need to new to make sure the old don’t become complacent.

Re:This is not what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36835200)

If you're wondering why they're not voted out of office, you only need to look at your last observation:

Do they make the person look like they are involved? Sure, to others who also have no clue - perhaps they even make the person look smart to others with even less clue.

Insider trading (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833430)

As I understand it, it's quite legal for them, so they are probably complaining that their snouts are not in the trough any more.
 

business literature (4, Informative)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834456)

It's well established in the business literature that large stock mergers like this almost always hurt the acquiring company's stock holders, as well as employees and consumers. I'd imagine this even applies to the acquired company's stock holders.

As a rule, the only people that benefit from the acquisition are the executives of the acquiring company, who's power & compensation increase vaguely proportionally to the size of the company they run. In effect, the acquiring executives are devaluing their own stock holders investments to make themselves more important and force those stock holders to vote them more compensation.

Just fyi, cash mergers average out like investing in the S&P500. In a cash merger, the acquiring company's executives have real utility for cash on hand, so they negotiate a fair price or make better strategic decisions even when overpaying. In the stock merger, they simply acquire the largest company possible using other people's money.

2 Points (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835566)

Yes, 70% of the mergers tend to destroy value. On the other hand, about 30% do create real synergies.[how I hate that word.]. Basically what happens is that the managers of the acquired company have a better inside view of the company and will try to extract the highest price possible.

I am a bit more optimistic about this merger for 2 reasons. AT&T is less interested in acquiring T-Mobil business then in its spectrum. AT&T needs more spectrum so it drops fewer IPhone calls. Second, this will basically make a duopoly of Verizon / AT&T. I expect they can squeeze the customers. Sigh.

By the way, I think the difference between cash and stock mergers are very different. In both cash and stock mergers the acquired company has every incentive to get the highest prices. So I don’t see the difference. Most of the time the acquiring company does not have the cash – they go to Wall Street and issue bonds to get the cash. The expectation is when a large company is buying a small company – normally the case where an establish company is buying a startup for their technology – See Cisco. You almost never see a cash merger because the owners of the acquired company “sells” there stock – thus triggering capital gains taxes. In stock mergers they “exchange” stock – which does not.

Re:2 Points (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836234)

I've heard the distinction phrased as cash vs. stock before, but the issue is obviously whether the acquiring company issues new stock or buys it's own shares on the market, which spreads the tax hit out to day traders.

I'd imagine that well more than 70% of 'merger dollars' destroy real shareholder value, i.e. the remaining 30% are all small companies and mergers frequently replace real value by irrational valuations. And creating synergies and destroying value are obviously not mutually exclusive.

Yes, the acquired company will always seek the best price possible. Yes, the acquired company will put it's best foot forward. etc. All that's why acquiring doesn't beat investing in the S&P500, even under 'cash' conditions. If otoh the acquiring company is willing to overpay, meaning they're diluting shareholder value, then the acquired company can extract an unreasonably high price.

AT&T buying T-mobile isn't the first large monopolistic merger. Ain't such a rosy history for stockholders there. Yes, a duopoly might extract higher prices from consumers. Yet, monopolies often simply squander more resources internally, if only because they've eliminate all the trivially applicable business method innovation, hey think government.

Also, there will remain significant competition from competing technologies : You realize, higher income people spend very few hours away from their home or office wifi connections, right? Any who travel more know about tethering already too. AT&T loses spectacularly when the emerging tablet market develops using these other connectivity options. We should note that skype & sip are fully functional on modern phones too, making other connectivity options more directly dangerous to AT&T.

Re:2 Points (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836660)

Let's face it, AT&T is mostly interested so the lady in the pink dress will quit saying mean (but true) things about them on TV.

Wonder?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833494)

They had plenty of time to "take positions" earlier but remained silent. I have to wonder if this has more to do with collecting campaign funding than actually caring about a cause.

I have absolutely no doubt. Whenever things like this happens, I think the media should print the campaign contributions, directly or indirectly including soft money, received by these politicians from the parties involved.

I know we'd see a much different picture.

It was the same regarding the whole banking and Wall Street issues.

Corrupt sons of bitches!

Re:Wonder?!? (1)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833544)

I agree. This isn't about doing anything for anyone but for themselves. Collectively, this is congress extorting money from the the telco's. Ideologically, the demos will line up on Verizon and Sprint side (and to a lessor degree consumer groups), the repubs on AT+T's side, and all of them will take huge contributions from both. After all, if they don't make some sort of stink, they won't get any money.

Re:This is not what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834066)

Guys, you Americans invented lobbying aka legally bribing politicians. Why surprised? They'll take anyone-with-money's side.

Re:This is not what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834720)

You actually have to wonder?? Seems pretty clear cut that that's the case to me... I'd like to see any and all elected government officials display all of their income on a website, just for full disclosure so that when this shit happens, people don't ever have to wonder why...

Re:This is not what you think (1)

badness (78200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835080)

Herb Kohl isn't running in 2012.

Hmm... (3, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833272)

Clearly someone has missed their yearly bribe payment, oh wait, I mean "campaign contribution".

I'm sure this will all get sorted soon. Once that check gets deposited, it always does...

Re:Hmm... (0)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833652)

Either that or the politicians want a raise... I mean increased campaign contributions.

"Don't want to give us more money for our campaigns? That's ok. Oh, by the way, about that merger you want to have... we have some concerns."

Re:Hmm... (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834632)

No, its official. Superpaks are now officially, "anonymous" legalized bribes. They are anonymous in that WE THE PEOPLE have no right to know who is doing the bribing whereas those receiving the bribes absolutely do know. We only have the right to know they have been bribed. And that's according to law.

No ifs, ands, or buts, any politician which a superpak, has one for the sole purpose of being bribed. Its their hat in the ring, with a wink and a nod of saying, "I'm for sale. What's your best offer?"

super pac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36837420)

please spell correctly so that is is easier for people to track down what you are referring to.

Glad to see... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833302)

Those morons in DC are paying attention to things other than the budget and the debt cap.

Wireless = National, Wired = Local (2, Interesting)

CorporalKlinger (871715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833308)

In answer to the question from the original post... I think there are no hearings about wired communication "monopolies" because there are a variety of wired providers nationally, even if only one or two of them service each domicile or office. There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services. Wireless, on the other hand, utilizes a finite resource (EM spectrum) and the 4 remaining carriers are largely the only ones available in the US. If I move from Miami, Florida, to Miami, Ohio, I probably have the same options available to me. Virgin Mobile, Boost, Wal-Mart Mobile, etc. all lease their spectrum from one of the big 4, so they aren't true alternatives or competitors. Three providers (or really two providers since I don't count Sprint) controlling all of the cell network EM spectrum seems like a very bad idea. I think that's why Congress is more concerned about the wireless merger than the paucity of wired communications providers serving Podunk, Montana. Other thoughts on this?

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (0)

choko (44196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833388)

The smaller carriers just buy their capacity from the larger carriers. Boost mobile doesn't actually have any towers, so they buy space from Sprint (I think). So it isn't really as competitive as it sounds.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833412)

The smaller carriers just buy their capacity from the larger carriers. Boost mobile doesn't actually have any towers, so they buy space from Sprint (I think). So it isn't really as competitive as it sounds.

Nice reading abilities there, Skippy. I think he already addressed that in the quote below.

Virgin Mobile, Boost, Wal-Mart Mobile, etc. all lease their spectrum from one of the big 4, so they aren't true alternatives or competitors.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833418)

That's exactly what he said, but thanks for playing!

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833460)

Boost is basically just a Sprint brand, Sprint owns the company. Sprint also owns Virgin Mobile USA.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (4, Informative)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833392)

There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services.

^What? There is *no* competition in "most markets" for wired communication. None. Zero. Nada. There's so much conspiring to work against it that it's sickening. MOST wired "competition" is merely reselling connections from the larger providers in a way to lower the cost through the purchase of bulk bandwidth. As an example in Canada, Rogers and Teksavvy.

AT&T and Verizon are known to do this in the US as well with small providers.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833616)

You're right of course, and I'm not sure why OP worded that the way he did. The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets. The big 4 (3?) wireless carriers are national (really international, but for purposes of this discussion it's irrelevant) companies that touch the lives and pocket books of Americans everywhere. If you're in Portland, Maine you have essentially four choices for wireless; if you're in LA, California you have the same four choices. Guess what your choices are in Anchorage or Miami? Yep, same guys. Given that these guys have a national oligopoly, their behavior and capabilities are naturally of concern to the national government.

By contrast, wired communications is managed in a distinctly local way. I might only be able to get Comcast where I live, but if I move across the state I might only be able to get Cox. You may not, as an individual, have lots of choices for broadband, but there are lots of choices. It's just that combination of your local government and history have prevented you from seeing more than a small selection. Local governments managed wired communications, the federal government (to the extent anyone does) manages wireless communications.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834564)

"little to nothing" the feds can do?

When deciding to sell spectrum that was previously owned by taxpayers, they can, instead, RENT it to companies, with a preference for third parties in areas where little competition exists. Selling it forever removes a lot of leverage.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834768)

You read good. I was talking about wired access when I said that:

The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets.

Thanks for playing

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835418)

The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets.

How about giving grants to communities to pay for them building their own community-owned infrastructure so that companies can lease access to fully built-out fiber networks instead of leasing access to the ground and running their own? Government-owned infrastructure eliminates the sole reason for granting monopoly status to telcos, and in so doing, opens up the possibility for broad competition because of the drastically lowered cost of entry into that local market.

The only real disadvantage is that the local government must either understand how to build out a fiber network or must bid-contract it out to a company to build and manage the infrastructure for them. Either way, the key requirement is that the company building out that infrastructure must have no ownership rights in the result, and that should be a precondition for any such grants.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835724)

How about giving grants to communities to pay for them building their own community-owned infrastructure so that companies can lease access to fully built-out fiber networks instead of leasing access to the ground and running their own?

Because the telcos are against it, and are turning many of the state legislatures against it.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836748)

That's exactly why it is necessary for the federal government to re-affirm that the people, working through their local municipal government or some other cooperative as they desire have the right to build a network if they want to and that neither the telcos nor the state government have any say in the matter.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835708)

You may not, as an individual, have lots of choices for broadband, but there are lots of choices.

If most people don't have access to those choices, then there are not lots of choices.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835712)

The real problem is that that there is little to nothing that the Federal government can do about the lack of competition in wired markets.

No, there are well-documented things that governments can do about this. For example, the government can enforce separation of the companies that provide the last-mile connection, the ones that connect that to the internet, and content providers. Because while the first one is a natural monopoly, the other two are not, yet right now the companies that own the last mile use it to stifle competition for ISP and content.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36836260)

You're absolutely wrong. Teksavvy leases the last mile -- they provide their own internet connectivity. They don't bulk purchase from Rogers.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833444)

Depends on which wired communications we are talking about. For TV, the area is Comcast only, no FiOS yet (if ever). There is satellite TV, but it's technically wired. For high speed internet, again only Comcast. Sure, there are some (I think) dial-ups, but really? Wired phone has all kinds of options, including Comcast.

The problem I have being tied to Comcast is it knows it can raise prices whenever it wants, because how many people would really drop TV and high speed internet? I don't know if satellite TV has gotten around to providing local channels yet, which tends to be the deal breaker. And then there is the whole Net Neutrality issue.

But I don't dismiss the whole "hey, time for some 'campaign contributions' " angle.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835338)

Satellite isn't wired, unless you're counting the power outlet. Mine is only connected to the outside via dish, no other jacks involved at all. Which works for DirecTV, not sure about DISH.

Comcast taking that position is precisely why you see so many dishes going up around here. Better quality, better service and not having to put up with cable morons.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833610)

There's still comparatively heavy competition in most markets for wired communications services.

This is patently false. One phone company owns the copper that is connected to your house or business. If your business is big enough, or it's in a big enough building, there might be another company's fiber there, but that's the exception. Yes, you might be able to buy this or that service (dial tone, DSL, DSx) from a CLEC but it's not a competitive market because the ILEC always get's it's piece of the action. And no, the cable television companies are not really competitors. Their focus is different, and it shows in the quality and breadth of their communications offerings.

It is well past time to adopt a public utility model and open these markets up to real communication. It works practically everywhere else in the world. It will work here.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834222)

Do you have any idea of the cost of entry would to run another set of copper wire to compete with the existing providers? If you did it, how would the cost of interconnection to the existing networks be structured? How would you pay for all this and still charge less than the existing provider?

Copper to the premise is a declining business, because competition from wireless and cable providers has been effective.

True competition consists in finding a better way to do something. "Me too" competition usually just seems to produce a race to the bottom.

As a matter of curiosity, where in the world are you aware of multiple owners of copper wire to the same geographical set of customers? Most of the world used to have government PTOs, and many of them have opened up in recent years to CLEC resale of dialtone, DSL etc., following the lead of the US.

I hope the model that will prevail is uncontrolled access to packet networks, whether over copper, coax, fiber or wireless, allowing access to any desired user service from any provider in "the cloud."

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835746)

Which is why the company that owns the wires should NOT be allowed to sell service on them.

Re:Wireless = National, Wired = Local (2)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833660)

Virgin and Boost don't buy from the big 4, they ARE the big 4.

Virgin and Boost are wholly owned subsidiaries of Sprint.

Telecom monopolies (2, Interesting)

darjen (879890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833356)

The reason they aren't upset is that the telecom monopolies are and were always caused by explicit government policy.

Read The Myth of Natural Monopoly by Thomas J. DiLorenzo http://mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/RAE9_2_3.pdf [mises.org]

The record of Congress in the telecom industry is so poor. Why would anyone even give two thoughts about what these politicians say?

Re:Telecom monopolies (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834204)

No, but you don't understand. Governments do everything in their power to reduce the power of monopolies, they do what they do for the benefit of consumers, all the regulations and taxes are there to protect you. Don't you know anything?

--

The above is what I normally get as comments, replying to mine on /. Then of-course come the 'moderators'.

on monopolies [slashdot.org]

more on monopolies [slashdot.org]

some more [slashdot.org]

Standard Oil, Alcoa Aluminum, AT&T, etc. [slashdot.org]

the fix to the problem [slashdot.org]

what's money? [slashdot.org]

what's a real solution? [slashdot.org]

is government evil? [slashdot.org]

difference between T-Mobile and other carriers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833380)

T-Mobile hasn't learned to be assholes who jerk their customers around while the CEO gets paid $26 million/yr. I guess that all changes once AT&T gets its mitts on the company.

Re:difference between T-Mobile and other carriers (2)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834744)

I got a text message from T-Mobile a few weeks ago saying their price for text messages will go up to $0.10/message on August 13th. They might not be waiting for the AT&T takeover to do their learning.

Its easy to be a wired provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833404)

All you need to do is physically lay a cable either underground or overground on poles to everybody's house ! simple and cheap no ?

When you have to dig holes in other peoples dirt
things get real expensive fast

Forced easements (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836410)

It gets much less expensive when the government forces the owners of the dirt to let you dig there.

And then you get a decade+ monopoly in the area because you invested in the cable.

Sodium Triploy Phosphate? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833432)

Do you mean triopoly?

The fix is in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833464)

I'm a T-Mobile subscriber. In the past week, I've gotten two text messages from them:

Incoming SMS price will be increased to $0.10
Directory service call price will be increased to $1.99

And this strategically timed so it's just before the merger. This is going to be "better for consumers" my ass. They know exactly what they're doing.

Here in the UK (1)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833672)

On the 3 network, the only network that owns and manges its own infrastructure....

£30 / $55 a month gets me...

1/ Free SGS rooted and running 2.3.4
2/ 5000 free minutes talk per month any network or landline
3/ 3000 free 3 to 3 minutes a month
4/ 5000 free texts (sending, no charge for incoming text / sms / mms) a month
5/ "all you can eat" data allowance, and I typically get 1.7 mbit minimum up and down anywhere, tether to laptop, run wifi hotspot, all free.

It's a good deal, the SGS + 3 is essentially science fiction from 1980 come to life.

Re:Here in the UK (1)

RavenManiac (220921) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834138)

Isn't the monthly charge similar in Euros in other European countries? I bought a SIM card for less than 10 Euros that had unlimited data.

Where I live, the only choice in broadband is slow DSL [1 Mbps] for $15/month--a great deal compared to our dial-up---and cable for $68/mo 5-15 Mbps. The other provider said we'll never get fiber because "nobody" lives here [on the Chesapeake Bay].

Choosing between too slow for downloads and highway robbery is not a choice.

pedantic language comment (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833468)

If the US senate and house are so concerned about a Triploy in wireless communication...

Apart from the odd capitalization, "triploy" isn't a word, though if it were, it might refer to some kind of three-pronged ploy.

Tripoli, formerly sometimes spelled Tripoly, is perhaps the closest word. It is Greek for "triple city"; famous examples include those in modern-day Lebanon [wikipedia.org] , Libya [wikipedia.org] , and Greece [wikipedia.org] .

The term tri-poly or tripoly can also have some uses in chemical nomenclature, as in sodium tripolyphosphate.

Moving further afield, one can extend the competitive-markets concept monopoly to refer to situations where there is more than one major player, but a small number who jointly control the market between themselves. The most common is the duopoly, where a pair of market participants own the market between themselves. This can, less commonly, be extended to three or four with terms such as triopoly and quadropoly. The more general term is an oligopoly [wikipedia.org] .

Re:pedantic language comment (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833548)

Even if a market is dominated by three players, is the term triopoly even intellectually honest? Really what you're starting to discuss is either a cartel or price fixing, both of which are usually illegal.

Re:pedantic language comment (2)

King InuYasha (1159129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833718)

Except there is some evidence to price fixing for rates. Verizon and AT&T are only a few dollars difference to each other per month, though you get less for more with Verizon's service. If you remove T-Mobile, then Sprint will fall, and then people will really notice how odd it is for AT&T and Verizon to have similar rates. Roaming rates are a form of price fixing that AT&T and Verizon heavily rely on as well. As a result, the only carriers that can offer rates lower than $40/mo are ones who don't allow roaming (Sprint Prepaid Group, basically). There is a tenuous balance of two GSM and two CDMA2000 national carriers that deflects away attention from the indirect and direct price fixing that AT&T and Verizon do in the market. If T-Mobile is absorbed by AT&T, Sprint will fall, and the federal government will have to step in, again. Once they step in, they'll have to take drastic steps to make sure the market is as fair as possible. Admittedly, they won't get far because AT&T and Verizon "contribute" to so many campaign fund ventures.

For this reason, it is extremely important that the government block the deal. They'd rather not have to heavily regulate the telecom market like they did prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Technically, the Telecom Act of 1996 also deregulated fixed internet services too. As a result, it is actually possible to start up a new broadband internet service company and offer service. However, it is a very expensive venture. Which means that nobody will do it unless they feel the social benefit outweighs the financial risks and costs (a la Google Fiber).

Re:pedantic language comment (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836804)

We use the term triopoly because the Chinese walls are just barely thick enough to keep it from being officially a cartel.

Re:pedantic language comment (1)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833758)

Well said. I'll add that the suffix "poly" in this instance derives from the Greek and Latin "polium," meaning "shop," not the Greek "polus," meaning much or many.

promises...really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36833612)

'citing AT&T's promises to improve access to poor and rural Americans'

really... promises, since when have big corps delivered on promises, except for the promise too bend you over and suck your wallet dry and deliver horrible customer service/support

Can we suggest a name? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833664)

I would love to see them become AT&T&T :)

Re:Can we suggest a name? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833716)

ATQUBED

Re:Can we suggest a name? (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833830)

NO CARRIER

Bad news for international GSM phone users (1)

ks9208661 (1862000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833746)

I travel for work and have a GSM phone which works in most countries I go to. Since I go to the US a lot, I got myself a prepaid AT&T SIM card many years ago and used that when I was in the US. In my last few visits however, I experienced so many annoying issues with the service (e.g. bad sound, dropped calls, dead spots even in the middle of big cities) that I decided to switch to T-Mobile prepaid in my next visit. Now this. *facepalm* This AT&T/T-Mobile merger will bring about a GSM service monopoly in the US which is bad news for us international travellers.

Re:Bad news for international GSM phone users (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834802)

If AT&T will use the network facilities that T-Mobile had, then the service won't get lower than you had with T-Mobile, no?

They just don't like the new name (2)

jbarr (2233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36833938)

They just don't like the new name that it would become: AT&T&T

Re:They just don't like the new name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36837036)

How about "Mobile T&T&A"?

Same old crap. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834436)

The irony here is that anyone who truly believes in free market principles should be opposed to these kinds of mergers. This is the sort of thing that kills healthy competition, particularly in a segment where there is already a distinct lack of competitors.

When Republicans talk about the free market what they actually mean is that they're looking out for the best interests of their corporate backers. Of course, don't delude yourself into thinking Democrats are any better. They simply pander to a different set of special interests. The thing Democrats have done right is that they've managed to brand themselves very effectively as looking out for the little guy even if it isn't actually true.

Re:Same old crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36837490)

That's for sure... perhaps 76 benefits?

Seventy six House Democrats have written FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder to urge them to consider the benefits of an AT&T-T Mobile merger in their respective agencies' reviews of the proposed $39 billion meld.

Not a fair comparison (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834584)

You cannot compare competition within wireless to wired. For one, the wireless folks only need to build one tower to serve hundreds. The wired providers has to run hundreds of physical lines. The cost of implementation is the key factor, it is a barrier to entry. Wireless does not have this problem. That said, no consumer wins in fights like this. The few remaining providers will hike prices up, knowing that there is no other competition. The government is needed in a case like this limit the abuse that has already happened.

Re:Not a fair comparison (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835422)

Wireless is also not limited. There are only a few bands out there, and they have been auctioned off. Having another wireless firm start up would be an impossibility as of now.

With the way things are now, the only way an ISP could make it in any way, would be to either lay fiber and use line of site communications, or via IP over power lines.

Sounds cool (1)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36834908)

What is this 'wired' thing? It sounds cool.

              -Charlie

Whoops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36834926)

It looks like somebody forgot to bribe...ahem, I mean 'contribute to the campaign' of a few of the politicians.

Mere households? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36835450)

They don't have the wherewithal to bribe Congresscritters.

Pressure on AT&T (2)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36835514)

This is a huge gamble for AT&T. They are basically trying to buy a 4G network instead of building it themselves. They've made the gamble that they can buy T-Mobile and bribe regulators for less money than they would have to spend to build it themselves.

Of course the consumer will get screwed in the deal. Rather than having two 4G networks to choose from, we will be left with one over subscribed 4G network and thousands of fewer jobs once AT&T gets finished digesting T-Mobile and jettisoning the remaining workers. The merger is a complete FAIL for everyone other than AT&T. The fact that Congress is evening considering letting it happen just shows how dysfunctional our government is.

Re:Pressure on AT&T (1)

ericdewey (167132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36837380)

Where are my mod points when I really want them?

Big problem. It creates a GSM monopoly in the US (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836196)

Not a triopoly, but a single nationwide GSM carrier. Sure, there are regional GSM carriers in some locations, but AT&T will be the only nationwide GSM carrier. That's a problem.

Because this issue (0)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36836980)

Because this issue is far more important at the moment? I mean really.

TMobile WILL DIE... regardless, irregardless... (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 3 years ago | (#36837270)

I am definitely not in favor of this Tmo buyout, moreso since I'm both a Tmobile and Sprint customer, BUT... DT, Tmo's parent company, has made it abundantly clear that it no longer wants Tmo. So Tmo WILL die, unless some unknown buyer swoops in to continue to operate it as an independent carrier. So far (DT has been taking bids for a while now), no such white knight has appeared. This means that, Tmobile will almost certainly die, if not swallowed by AT&T, then merged with Sprint, or some other unknown fate. Therefore all the arguments made about the necessity of having Tmobile as an important fourth US national carrier are probably moot, as it is unlikely that that can be, even if the AT&T buyout is blocked. Nobody can force DT to continue to operate Tmo as is... sad about that, but that's the troothhhh....
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