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AT&T Offering Merger Concessions

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the speeding-things-along dept.

Businesses 98

TheFarmerInTheDell writes that AT&T is offering concessions to make their merger with SBC happen as fast as possible. From the article: "AT&T filed a letter of commitment with the [Federal Communications Commission] Thursday night that adds a number of new conditions to the deal, including a promise to observe 'network neutrality' principles, an offer of affordable stand-alone digital subscriber line service and divestment of some wireless spectrum."

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merger. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397022)

I for one won't be taking part in this merger

Re:merger. (2, Insightful)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397408)

We're all taking part in this merger. In the short time since divestiture, the Bells, MCI, Sprint and the like, have gone from an incredibly profitable business model, to one far less stable. The irony of divestiture is that local phone service still has almost no competition, but the threat to the Bells comes from new communications that were not very formidable back then. Cable, which now shares the 'mother' moniker in most places in the US, stands to be affected most by a strong Bell presence. Hopefully, the competition will bring the benefits divestiture was supposed to deliver.

Don't forget the fine print. (4, Insightful)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397044)

affordable stand-alone digital subscriber line service
* pricing only valid for the first three month of contract.

Re:Don't forget the fine print. (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397592)

I got SBC DSL before they merged. My one year $15/month contract expired and AT&T hiked my rate to $50/month. I called and told them I wanted the same deal for another year, they quibbled a bit and finally agreed a a lifetime price of $20/month. Contract pricing screws the people who don't bother making a call.

Re:Don't forget the fine print. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397680)

Contract pricing screws the people who don't bother making a call.

Reminiscent of my friend who had AOL for free years before it was official, everytime she called to cancel they gave her another three months free.

DSL Pricing... (1)

arfonrg (81735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400248)

My experience is just the opposite...

We signed up for RoadRunner ~7 years ago and have been paying $45/mo the whole time. Time-Warner NEVER lowered the price until SBC/ATT got enough DSL coverage to scare them. After that, they went to the $29/mo (first few months only) pricing scheme (which they currently still have) and ever since have been running a crap-load of ads constantly telling how slow DSL is and how much faster RoadRunner is.

Well, IT AIN'T TRUE! RoadRunner would drop connection atleast twice per day (usually in the middle of an online game) and I never got faster more than a 70K download (even from my own servers across town). Most of the time, the service would be at a crawl. We got tired of RoadRunner's crap and tried SBC's DSL (now that they don't require contracts) and it's been WONDERFUL!

We called TW-RR to get a price reduction, they told us that we would have to cancel our service and re-sign up to get them limited time $29/mo price. What a way to treat your long-time customers!

The DSL service has YET to drop us once (been on for about 2 months) and I regularly get 130K+ download speeds. Now, I know some of ytou are going to say "130K!?!? That's crap! RR is up to 5mbps" Yeah, whatever. I NEVER SAW ANYTHING CLOSE TO 1mbs in the ~7 years I was with RR! When I had a download going, and I started a new one, the first one's speed would drop by about half! With DSL, I can start a bunch of downloads and they don't affect each other's speed.

The best part is the price: $19.00/mo WITH NO CONTRACT!!!! This isn't special introductory pricing either!

Leaving those TW-RR crooks was the best thing!

Re:DSL Pricing... (1)

cliffro (964798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400832)

I'd like to add my .02 to this.

I've had both AT&T/SBC DSL and RoadRunner, First off RR here is as fast if not faster than the advertised speeds. i could upload and download at the same time without either slowing the other down.

The DSL i have currently(price of $24 month to month for the 3mbit one is why im using it)if i am downloading and start an upload the speed on my download drops atleast a 100k if i upload at max.

I live in a city of about 30k people so the "sharing" aspect of cable doesnt appear to effect the speeds here.
i have not checked the price of RR recently but even if its still 44.95 its worth the extra money for the ability to upload and download at the same time without worrying whether one will slow down.

Needless to say I am about to go back to RR for good.

But (5, Informative)

JustOK (667959) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397048)

TechDirt is pointing out that
The wording is a little tricky, but while they agree not to remove network neutrality from their standard network, hidden in the middle of a later paragraph is this sentence: "This commitment also does not apply to AT&T/BellSouth's Internet Protocol television (IPTV) service."
and
AT&T promises not to violate network neutrality on a network they never intended to use that way, and carves out permission to use it on their new network, where they had planned all along to set up additional tollbooths.

Yay, AT&T!

Re:But (-1, Offtopic)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397112)

Go! Go P0wer Rangers!
Go! Go! Power Rangers!
G0! Go POwer Rangers!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!

Go! Go POwer Rangers!
Go! Go! P0wer Rangers!
G0! Go Power Rangers!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!

Re:But (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397224)

Mod parent down please.

Re:But (1)

pcx (72024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398846)

Yup. Network neutrality was never about putting the crimp on "print media" sites like slashdot but all about controlling telephony and video where the REAL money is. What's really funny is that the "toll road" already exists. I have a 1.5 megabit dsl connection which is GREAT for my needs but if I want I can call AT&T right now and 10 minutes later after the operator takes my billing information and punches a few keys on her computer I can get 3 or even 6 megabits without needing to do anything to my hardware or software. In a few months the available bandwidth to my house will actually go up to 20 megabits and that my friends is multi-channel, high definition video on demand, and there's nothing in the world that says AT&T has to sell that bandwidth to me for use on the internet.

I think eventually the internet speeds will top out at 1.5-3 megabits realistically, you'll be able to get 6,8 and maybe even 10-20 but the price will effectively means that whatever AT&T would offer you in that bandwidth would be much cheaper. So if you want high-def youtube from google you'll have to pay an arm and a leg for the bandwidth to get it, or you can pay $49.99 a month to at&t for their IP offering.

So the internet toll road everyone is all scared about is really just the unused bandwidth and future tiered rate plans that will ensure at&t has their beloved toll road and there's nothing anybody can do about it.

Re:But (1)

rekoil (168689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17399420)

I think you have the concept a bit backwards...the "Net Neutrality" concerns aren't that AT&T will charge the customer more for access to more of the existing pipe; hell, that happens today. The concern is that AT&T will turn around and expect Google, Yahoo, etc. to pay extra for access to your pipe. You might have a 1.5Mbps connection, but if AT&T had its way, they would have the right to rate limit YouTube downloads to a lower rate, say, 500kbps per user, unless Google paid AT&T an extra fee. At the same time allowing their own video download services to operate at the maximum line rate. THAT's what has people worried.

Re:But (1)

pcx (72024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401046)

Nope I have it exactly right. If Google wants to pump high-def videos to you they're going to have to pay AT&T for that "non-internet" spectrum AT&T is going to reserve for their own IP-TV offerings. If google won't pay then, if you as an individual want high-def videos from google you're going to have to shell out for a very high-priced bandwidth tier. So either google pays to use at&t's ip-tv bandwidth or you pay (out the wazoo) for the 10-20 megabit bandwidth you'll need to get high-def streaming video from google. Either way that's basically the tiered toll road everyone in the network neutrality debate is so frantic about -- they just have it wrong, they think the toll road will be layered on the existing 1.5-3megabit internet lines when in reality it's all about the expanded bandwidth that will become available over the next few years.

When AT*T runs fiber to your neighborhood and can offer 20 megabit (or more) dsl connections there's no law on the books that says they have to sell you that bandwidth as internet access.

Network neutrality would say google would have every bit as much access to that 20 megabits as at&t and that you the customer would have one rate plan that would give you 20 megabits (forget 1.5, 3, 6, 8, 10 megabit budget plans). But that sort of utopia just isn't going to happen -- ever.

Re:But (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#17405482)

1080i MPEG4 streams only take ~9Mbit/s. I can get 6Mbit/s from my cable provider today for $65/month. I would expect 9Mbit/s for the same price in the next year or two, and that to be the base rate in another couple years as cable, WiMax and FIOS compete. The problem for those who want to lock content in is that there are so many technologies wanting to provide you with bandwidth that eventually you will have more than enough bandwidth to do whatever you need. Artificial speed limits imposed by Tier-1 ISP's was the only thing that was going to stop this inevitability, and this agreement by AT&T basically stops that idea.

Re:But (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 7 years ago | (#17403962)

According to this article http://www.macworld.com/news/2006/12/29/att/index. php [macworld.com] , they are only agreeing to network-neutrality for two years.

To me, this means, they agree to network-neutrality until they can build out enough bandwidth and there is more of a demand for video over the internet, then it's out the window.

Maybe they should have to split apart once their concessions end?

Re:But (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400072)

Yay, my ass. Without a consent decree, their promises mean absolute jack. Even with one, I trust their "promises" about as far as I can throw the downtown SBC building.

Divest first. Set up a binding agreement first. Then we talk.

They did a bait and switch (1)

epeus (84683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412492)

Not just with the IPTV loophole, but on the commissioners too. Adelstein said: "the Commission takes a long-awaited and momentous step in this Order by requiring the applicants to maintain neutral network and neutral routing in the provision of their wireline broadband Internet access service. This provision was critical for my support of this merger and will serve as a "5th principle," ensuring that the combined company does not privilege, degrade, or prioritize the traffic of Internet content, applications or service providers, including their own affiliates."
but Martin said "These conditions are voluntary, enforceable commitments by AT&T but are not general statements of Commission policy and do not alter Commission precedent or bind future Commission policy or rules."

More here [blogspot.com]

SBC != BellSouth (4, Informative)

plaiddragon (20154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397052)

SBC already merged with AT&T. It is this AT&T that is now offering concessions to get the merger with BellSouth to go through.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (3, Funny)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397154)

One network to rule them all, One network to find them,
One network to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397402)

One network to rule them all, One network to find them,
One network to bring them all and in the darkness bind them


In the land of San Francisco, where the network hubs lie.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400488)

One network to rule them all, One network to find them,
One network to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In the land of San Francisco, where the network hubs lie.


There they shall be like a hawk,
and make the peoples die.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (2, Funny)

uhlume (597871) | more than 7 years ago | (#17406836)

...

Would that be a Tolkien-ring network?

Re:SBC != BellSouth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397290)

It even refers to that in the URL of TFA. I'm glad to see that the ./ editor's are still doing their standard, bang-up job.

- spell-check? nope
- Reference Check? nope
- Negative Article about Conservatives, Microsoft, or Sony? POST IT!
- Positive Article about Conservatives, Microsoft, or Sony? REJECTED!

Re:SBC != BellSouth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397326)

- Fucktards like you posting fucktarded comments? Should slit you fucking wrists immediately.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398328)

Actually, they did not "merge". SBC Bought AT&T outright, and, one could argue, for the brand only.

While AT&T may be reviled among geeks, it is one of the most recognized, and therefore, trusted brands around.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398750)

Indeed, I had no love for AT&T, but I was pleased to hear that the old "T" stock ticker was coming back. It just left a little tear in my eye for the olden days when I wasn't born yet. ~

If standalone DSL means I can drop my home telephone service without having to switch to Suddenlink's crappy cable internet service, I'm all for it. (The standalone DSL, not necessarily the merger with BellSouth.)

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398948)

I use AT&T (SBC) DSL, and it works great. Never have any problems, price is right, and everything loads fast. I'd recommend it.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402060)

That's what I have now, and I agree. My problems are:

A) They track every site you and I visit and sell the information to the feds.

B) I have to pay them for telephone service for the privilege of buying their DSL.

If I lived two miles over and had Time Warner for cable service, I'd switch in a minute. But we had Cox (now Suddenlink) and the service was awful. SBC DSL is the best I can get.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (2, Informative)

ffejie (779512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17399002)

They actually bought them for the backbone and the services that come with it. SBC had no internet backbone previous to the SBC acquisition and as a result was using Sprint (in many cases) for transport to the internet. This is pricey, especially with all those DSL users. Classic AT&T has a great managed internet service for companies, very profitable VPN services and a ton of business VoIP customers. Once SBC bought AT&T, they could use their backbone and become a legitimate Tier 1 Provider -- and immediately bought legitimacy into the lucrative B2B internet service world.

However, typo remains -- this article is about BellSouth, not SBC. Some argue that this BellSouth "merger" is mostly to put Cingular under one roof. I agree. The rest of BellSouth isn't that valuable to the new AT&T. Cingular is generating a lot of money for the two companies and consolidation is in the companies best interest.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402120)

The rest of BellSouth isn't that valuable to the new AT&T.
Except they pretty clearly want to be an ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier) nationwide, like they nearly were before. I would be shocked if Qwest remained independant for long, and after that, I think they'll buy the non-wireless portions of Verizon (since the own Cingular, they probably can't buy Verizon Wireless). That will give them all of the old American Bell area back, plus the old GTE areas.

Re:SBC != BellSouth (1)

ffejie (779512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17428430)

I would be shocked if Qwest remained independant for long, and after that, I think they'll buy the non-wireless portions of Verizon

Not so sure about this. I would expect Verizon to hang on to their landline and ILEC status in most areas. Additionally, I will be floored if anyone makes a bid for Qwest or any of their landlines. Unfortunately for those in the Qwest service area, it's looking like those rural areas are no longer profitable for the big companies. It doesn't mean some small company won't come to town to give you super fast internets. Although I can't find the link now, you can see this trend with Verizon starting to get out of its more rural lines in Maine and Vermont.

Sup (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397060)

http://www.johninjapan.com/ [johninjapan.com]

It's a trap! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397114)

IT'S A TRAP!!!

Re:It's a trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17398934)

Lurk Moar!

Read The Fine Print (1, Redundant)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397134)

According to TechDirt [techdirt.com] , the concessions might be just smoke and mirrors, at least in part. They've carved out exceptions to their agreement to keep network neutrality ("This commitment also does not apply to AT&T/BellSouth's Internet Protocol television (IPTV) service") and possibly some limitations on how useful the "affordable stand-alone digital subscriber line service" is.

georgewellian mindphucking to continue in 2007? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397184)

is there any doubt about it?

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from previous post: many demand corepirate nazi execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the felonious nazi execrable) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

Re:georgewellian mindphucking to continue in 2007? (2, Funny)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397844)

Wow dude, you are just f*cking batsh*t nuts, aren't you?

Welcome Back Ma Bell (3, Insightful)

allscan (1030606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397250)

Wow, and to think the Antitrust suit from the 70's against AT&T was supposed to break up the monopoly. Now they are coming back strong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_break_up_of_AT%26 T [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397258)

Precisely, They are up to their old tricks once again.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (4, Insightful)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397776)

Maybe that industry "wants" to be a monopoly. You can't turn a pig into a chicken by gluing feathers on him, eventually they'll fall off. By the way, antitrust [wikipedia.org] laws are not intended to break up monopolies. They are there to deter and punish only certain anti-competitive actions. The laws were put into place for mostly political reasons. Many economists are against them.
 
Monopolies or oligopolies aren't all bad in some industries, sometimes they are the most efficient market structure. I'm not saying that the telecom industry is one of these, but there is a reason that after several breakups that they just coming back together. The same thing has happened in the airline industry. Any industry that demands a very large infrastructure will always lean toward a non-competetive market structure because the "cost to play" is so high.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (5, Insightful)

arclyte (961404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398232)

I call bullshit on this one.

It's not the "industry" that wants a monopoly, it's the management of this industry. Industry itself has no self-organized will to monopolize. Monopolies are inherently anti-competetive. The reason Ma Bell was broken up in the first place was to protect consumers. It is inherently in the best interest of these companies to raise the "cost to play" once they've formed a monopoly in order to keep small players out and thus kill off competition. Once you're the only provider, you can afford to pay whatever outrageous fees are needed because consumers have no choice but to pay you for service. Look what happened when the government recently removed the Universal Service Fund fee and the big telcos moved to fill that gap to help pay off their taxes. And they're still getting away with "tax recovery" fees, passing on their social responsibility to their customers in order to bolster their bottom line. Can I get a raise of hands here on how many people find today's cable or telco companies (land-line or cell) doing all they can to respond to market pressure and consumer demand instead of just filling their own pockets?

But hey, if you want to go back to renting phones, be my guest...

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (2, Interesting)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400852)

Can I get a raise of hands here on how many people find today's cable or telco companies (land-line or cell) doing all they can to respond to market pressure and consumer demand instead of just filling their own pockets?

Everything else aside, the old Bell Telephone network was the best in the world. Because the old AT&T was a monopoly, they could afford to engineer things right. They didn't have to worry about pesky things like cost-cutting or meeting next quarter's financial goals. Today's land-line service is still the best in the world, but it's due to the old AT&T legacy. When older equipment starts getting replaced, expect the quality of land-line service to decline.

If AT&T were never broken up, we'd probably have the best wireless service in the world today. Short of accident or disaster, you'd never get a dropped call. And we'd have one, unified technology, not the incompatible technologies of CDMA, TDMA, GSM, and iDEN.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401842)

When older equipment starts getting replaced, expect the quality of land-line service to decline.

Are you suggesting that we are still using Ma Bell-era switches? Because I doubt that.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (2, Insightful)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401936)

Are you suggesting that we are still using Ma Bell-era switches? Because I doubt that.

There are lots of 1A-ESS and 5ESS switches still in operation. Lots. Additionally, AT&T continued to manufacturer switches for many years after the break-up and sold them to the baby bells. I know. I worked for AT&T at the time.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402042)

There are lots of 1A-ESS and 5ESS switches still in operation. Lots. Additionally, AT&T continued to manufacturer switches for many years after the break-up and sold them to the baby bells. I know. I worked for AT&T at the time.

Well, that does make sense. And the 5ESS does predate the end of the breakup of ATT by two years, so I guess that works. I sit corrected.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17407510)

My only question: why are none of these motherfuckers in jail for bilking tax payers out of millions in subsidies for infrastructure and delivering jackshit in return?

Lobbying bastards will be the death of free communication.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (5, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398886)

Right. And this is why the people (Read: Government) should own the lines themselves and only allow telecoms to run services on them. If you think that is a bad idea then you have to go the regulation route and basically force the telecoms to get their grubby hands off the lines they "Own" (Read: The taxpayers paid for most of those lines) and to let any service provider into any region. This way while one player in the market may own the infrastructure, it is not of benefit to them because they are forced to offer that infrastructure at cost to the competition. Will the Telecoms have a fit at hearing these plans? Yes. But seriously who cares. This is for the good of the country and once again it was the people of this country who subsidized most of those lines in the first place. We should get to use them how we like.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

ari wins (1016630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400834)

https://www.freepress.net/news/19487 [freepress.net]

In wake of their recent lobbying here in Michigan to get a cheap entrance into video and cable services, your idea seems downright logical. I mean, what's good for the goose, right?

Not mentioned in the linked article is the fact that they also want the regulations removed because it will allow them to pick and choose the areas in a community that they'd like to serve, rather than having to server the entire community, rural and otherwise.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400692)

but there is a reason that after several breakups that they just coming back together.

Legalized bribery of politicians?
Selective enforcement?

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400954)

More like:

http://www.tutor2u.net/economics/content/topics/mo nopoly/natural_monopoly.htm [tutor2u.net]
http://www.progress.org/fold74.htm [progress.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly [wikipedia.org]

I'm not saying that that stuff doesn't happen, but the very nature of the industry leads to oligopoly. And, no, I do not work for any company remotely related to telecom.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17403284)

Shenanigans.

Market players desire to amalgamate does not imply that amlgamation benefits the consumer. High barriers to entry are also beside the point: the players in question have already entered the market.

I posit that AT&T finds it their fudiciary duty to monopolize because it is profitable - for them.

Also, it's darling how you refuse to take responsibility for your own arguments. Oh, how it warms the cockles of my heart.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17404948)

there is a reason that after several breakups that they just coming back together.

Because they can?

It's not like market forces broke-up AT&T. It was the federal government. Now, it's the federal government giving them a pass, and allowing unlimited mergers.

If GM could buy-up Ford and Chrysler, you can bet they'd jump at the chance... Not because there's any good reason for a monopoly, but because getting rid of your competitors is always profitable.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (2, Interesting)

OffbeatAdam (960706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398782)

I can hardly attribute the recent merger and conglomeration of AT&T as a bad thing. I see it like this: 60 years ago as our country was coming out of a war that pushed technology to advance at the rate it is currently moving at today, AT&T stepped up with Bell Labs to convert that push into a very large, very succesful invention push that brought this country far ahead of our overseas brethren in terms of accomplishment and overall technological capability. If not for AT&T and its Bell Labs, we would not have the transistor, C (programming), UNIX... in reality, AT&T is the creator of the modern programmable computer. TDMA and CDMA, Fiber Optics, LEDs, CCDs. Bell Labs is pretty much the forefront of the technological community. The antitrust suit, although directed in a manner to allow AT&T to step into the computer arena and step slightly out of the phone arena, made bell labs cripple. In the past 10 years, the US has fallen behind in telecommunications. Things that we are just getting into our infrastructure, countries overseas have had for years. Our average broadband speed is less than 1/10th than the majority of other places in the world. We will not advance, if we do not embrace what advanced us in the first place. The exploration and implementation of new and powerful technologies country-wide to advance our infrastructure to handle and drive a more powerful nation, is expensive. How can you expect a bunch of small local companies with less capital than a fast food restaraunt to accomplish such a large task? If we are to meet broadband capabilities and the HDTV forecast, we need to accept that only a large, rich, powerful company can accomplish it. AT&T's antitrust suit was primarily due to their advancement into the computer industry. After the suit, their worth dropped SIGNIFICANTLY. The baby bells were nearly worthless, with the exception of SBC and BellSouth. The only others, were in too small of areas to really compete. Although there are a few others, the AT&T breakup is probably the biggest disagreement I have with some of the antitrust decisions of the last 100 years.

1984 Divestiture Bad? (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400478)

Oh, Adam, where do I begin?

I can hardly attribute the recent merger and conglomeration of AT&T as a bad thing. I see it like this: 60 years ago as our country was coming out of a war that pushed technology to advance at the rate it is currently moving at today, AT&T stepped up with Bell Labs to convert that push into a very large, very succesful invention push that brought this country far ahead of our overseas brethren in terms of accomplishment and overall technological capability. If not for AT&T and its Bell Labs, we would not have the transistor, C (programming), UNIX... in reality, AT&T is the creator of the modern programmable computer. TDMA and CDMA, Fiber Optics, LEDs, CCDs.
Basically you're right there - except that I'd say (1) the merger, while not a bad thing in and of itself, will lead to bad things. Large monopolies just can't help themselves. Hell, look at Microsoft. And (2) AT&T's inventions were the enabler of the modern programmable computer. Bell System management, while right to give Bell Labs free reign to dive into basic research (with the help of the federal government), just didn't have the vision to market many of their inventions. Jack Morton, head of Bell Labs in the 50's/60's, just didn't think integrated circuits were worth pursuing. Discrete components were more reliable and he thought ICs never would be.

CDMA? Heck, Hollywood had almost as much to do with that as AT&T did. Heidi Lamarr and George Antheil invented spread spectrum communications (the enabler for CDMA) back in 1942. Qualcomm and Interdigital did more to make it a reality in the commercial world than AT&T ever did.

Bell Labs is pretty much the forefront of the technological community.
I assume you meant was.

The antitrust suit, although directed in a manner to allow AT&T to step into the computer arena and step slightly out of the phone arena, made bell labs cripple. In the past 10 years, the US has fallen behind in telecommunications.
Yes. The 1956 Consent Decree kept AT&T out of the computer business. Judge Harold Greene's Modified Final Judgment leading to Divestiture on 1 January 1984 gave them the green light. That little deal was precipitated by Bill McGowan and the original MCI. And it enabled AT&T to try its hand in the computer area. Remember that little debacle called NCR?

AT&T's antitrust suit was primarily due to their advancement into the computer industry. After the suit, their worth dropped SIGNIFICANTLY. The baby bells were nearly worthless, with the exception of SBC and BellSouth. The only others, were in too small of areas to really compete. Although there are a few others, the AT&T breakup is probably the biggest disagreement I have with some of the antitrust decisions of the last 100 years.
You're contradicting yourself. The original consent decree (see my remarks above) got them out of the computer biz. The 1982 consent decree let them back in. And the Baby Bells worthless? By the time of the Telecom Boom of the 90's, the aggregate worth of the former RBOCs was much greater than AT&T. Throw Lucent back in the mix and you're getting closer. But then again, Carly Fiorina and her buddys literally killed that company with their inept management. Worrying about their options and quarterly bonuses, they conveniently forgot what the telecom industry was. For them, Lucent was a vehicle to stock manipulation, er, appreciation. And don't get me started on what Compaq and she did to H-P...

AT&T had the "lucrative long distance market". The Baby Bells were "stuck with billions of worthless outside plant". That was 1984 thinking. We all saw how wrong that was. By 1997, the cost of all the back-end accounting to actually meter a voice call was EQUAL to the cost of the electronics and outside plant to actually place that call. That's why, unlike nuclear electricity, long distance became too cheap to meter. And we all see what happened to that obsolete copper plant - DSL make that sunk investment worth billions. Heck, it wasn't just the RBOCs that were raking in the dough. The independents like GTE, Alltel, Century Telephone, the ma and pa co-ops - they were making money hand over fist.

Had it not been for Divestiture, there would have been NO incentive for investment in new companies in the telecom area. The Telecom Boom would maybe have occured by now. Certainly not in 1994-2000. The Internet? Hell, Bell System lobbyists would have ensured that NSFNet would never carry commercial traffic - that was their cash cow. You wouldn't be posting on /. You think Cisco would be the behemoth they are now if not for Divestiture? Juniper? Google? YouTube? Yahoo?

Study your history, dude. You wouldn't want to repeat it.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398830)

SBC purchased AT&T and then SBC changed its name to AT&T. So its not Ma Bell buying back all its children. Its SBC the strongest child who bought Ma Bell and is now trying to buy up its siblings.

Ma Bell as everyone remembers it was put in a nursing home awhile back. It's really SBC running the show now.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AT&T [wikipedia.org]

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#17405524)

While SBC might have been the purchasing party on paper I can guarantee you that internal politics meant the merger was really controlled by the AT&T side of the fence. This was bad for me at the time as our great SBC rep was essentially pushed out.

Re:Welcome Back Ma Bell (1)

PDMongo (225918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400936)

AT&T is certainly acting like a monopoly. As an AT&T customer I've seen my rates slowly creeping up since the original merger, their customer service in the form of that automated attendant is an insult to anyone that ever tried to use it (say 'operator' and watch it hang up on you right after telling you it will connect you to someone that can help...) and their rates are irrelevant as they seem to be able to charge whatever other "additional service fees" they feel like. Heck, they even get to charge you when you want to drop them as a service provider (and I quote from my last call to customer service: Me - "I want to drop AT&T..." them - "That will be a $9.15 charge". Craziness.

I guess what goes around, comes around. Hopefully they will go sooner rather than later.

That ain't no concession (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397314)

including a promise to observe 'network neutrality' principles,

That's not a concession - that's an attempt to head off binding legislation with a 'promise' that is easily broken once the merger is past the point of no return. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

Re:That ain't no concession (3, Insightful)

mgbastard (612419) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397798)

FTA:
A greater commitment to network neutrality, or nondiscrimination involving Internet traffic. AT&T said it would "maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service" for two years.

Two years? Hah. That's so paltry, we should all feel insulted. They probably wouldn't even be able to effect the major technology change on their network to disrupt neutrality for that long anyway. Might as well promise according to plan. That promise should be perpetual and binding.

All of their promises, excepting the 2.5ghz auction are without substance, and that is suspect. They had already announced repatriating those jobs. Naked DSL for a whopping 30 months. Whew whee! So they'll get more people accusomted to broadband phone and tv services, and then take away the network neutral, unbundled option, forcing them on to their bundle after 30 months. At least we know their marketing strategy! I don't really understand why they are willing to cede the 2.5ghz... best guess is they intend to acquire that 'unrelated' entity after they build out sites on that 2.5ghz wimax. That goodwill asset booked on mystery carrier X will underwrite a lot of financing of cell sites!

Slimeball business monopolists. (eat me)

SBC or BellSouth? (1)

kireK (254264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397344)

AT&T already merged with SBC, now SBC Management controls AT&T and they want to merge with BellSouth.

I know, confusing.... but wait till AT&T merges with the Borg.

Borg? (0, Offtopic)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397368)

You have Star Trek confused with Star Wars (the ATT "Death Star" logo).

Re:Borg? (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398392)

Have you seen the new AT&T deathstar [att.com] ? It's like the softer side of the Sith!

Wait a sec (2, Informative)

techpawn (969834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397392)

--A greater commitment to network neutrality, or nondiscrimination involving Internet traffic. AT&T said it would "maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service" for two years.
So in 2009 they can screw with network neutrality again?

...Consessions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397420)

AT&T is offering concessions to make their merger with SBC happen as fast as possible.
Did it agree to take it up the ass now? Or, rather, let it's customers to do so?

Re:...Consessions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17398728)

Oh, you're taking it up the ass either way. They've just offered let you to suck it first so it doesn't get shoved in dry.

Some 'consession'.... (3, Informative)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397456)

A two year commitment to net neutrality is just a bunch of hot air, if consumer advocacy groups accept something like this they have obviously been drinking the kool-aid. Net neutrality to be reviewed in two years and would need to be revoked would be a concession, this needing to be reinforced two years from now is nothing.

Not to mention the other bs in this agreement:
$20 DSL for consumers whether they sign up for other services or not - when you are an effective monopoly in the area, does it matter if signing up for other services is required?
Repatriate 3,000 outsourced jobs - when you are dropping 10,000 jobs, 3,000 is a drop in the bucket.
And, going back to the net neutrality clause, 'AT&T said it would "maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service"' - sounds to me like they are trying to leave all sorts of wiggle room here...

Re:Some 'consession'.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17397538)

$20 DSL for consumers whether they sign up for other services or not - when you are an effective monopoly in the area, does it matter if signing up for other services is required?

It does for me... I for one don't want a phone, and the only high-speed internet avalible in my area is from AT&T (therefore, I currently have to pay for a phone line to get dsl). This way, I don't have to pay for things I don't want nor need. Though I do agree the 2 year thing is crap, at least I can save some money in the meantime.

Which is it? (2, Insightful)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397598)

...including a promise to observe 'network neutrality' principles...
But I thought network neutrality was bad for consumers last time we asked the telcos?

Re:Which is it? (2, Insightful)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398060)

It is. It'll make you sterile, cause your hair to fall out, your car to quite working, give you AIDS, your pants will hike up to your shins, your socks won't match, you'll get bad breath, and your watch will quit. I know this because I saw it on TV.

Re:Which is it? (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398518)

it's whatever it takes to get you hippies to give away control of the internet [weownthenet.org] . net neutrality supports terrorism and hillary clinton. and teen pregnancy.

SBC != BellSouth (0, Redundant)

pygar (44148) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397676)

SBC was Southwestern Bell, and has already been merged with AT&T.

Effect on WiMAX (1)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397742)

The Net Neutrality concession is good news, but there's other interesting news.

According to the article:
To "assign and/or transfer to an unaffiliated third party" all of its 2.5 GHZ spectrum currently licensed to BellSouth within one year of the merger closing date.

A bit of trivia: according to the FCC's license database [fcc.gov] , BellSouth owns more than 60 channels useful for WiMAX [wimaxforum.org] , 40 of them at 2.5 GHz. The article implies that BellSouth would retain the 2.3 GHz spectrum they have (about 20 licenses). (AT&T probably has licenses, too, so the reason for divestment must have been to avoid overlap.)

This means that either a new service provider could appear who could deploy WiMAX, or an existing service provider could expand their footprint. BellSouth has been a major proponent for WiMAX, so it probably won't accelerate the adoption any more than before, but it could help increase the number of broadband service providers in the area.

I promise I'll pull out... (4, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397780)

...c'mon baby!

It sounds like the FCC needs to invoke the "no glove/no love" rule.

AT&T != AT&T Wireless (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17397910)

AT&T Wireless (now Cingular) is going to be in this merger as well. So Cingular phased out the AT&T Wireless name and Created Cingular. Now they are expected to return to the AT&T name as "AT&T Cingular, AT&T Mobile, or just AT&T"

yuo F4il It!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17398386)

and help us! ConfirmiNg tjhe

Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

acil (916155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17398770)

So AT&T saying they won't include their IPTV service in this network neutrality clause is a good thing. How can an ISP hope to give you reliable TV service over the internet if they arn't allowed to use Quality of Service to prioritize that traffic. Their backbone isn't crowded, so QoS doesn't matter there, its first in first out. The only place QoS (non-net-neutrality?) has any effect is on a congested link... like, I dunno, your DSL circuit?

Without QoS on your IPTV service, your 15 y/o daughter would cause daily reception problems because she keeps downloading Britney Spears albums.

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17399040)

Net neutrality and QoS are distinct concepts. QoS = prioritize traffic based on how important it is to get through quickly/reliably/? (however we need to discuss what these priorities are - the providers should not be left to decide this on their own) Net neutrality says that the provider cannot discriminate traffic based on its source (or destination?); the telcos want to give priority to traffic that profits them in preference to others (e.g., telco TV gets priority over Google TV unless Google pays the provider for priority).

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17399704)

The plans that I've seen carve out specific bandwidth for voice1/2, HDTV1/2, SDTV1/2/3, IPTV, and finally data services. Only the generic data services would retain net neutrality since only that service would be available on the "Internet". All the other offers are for internal use of the provider.

So what does this mean? Bandwidth for GoogleTV doesn't ride the same pipe as AT&T TV. OTOH, if you'd rather have all the available bandwidth assigned to generic data services, good luck getting that on a residential connection from any telco or cable company. They will always retain bandwidth for other purposes.

Nobody is complaining loudly about Comcast's VoIP or VOD services eating bandwidth. This is the same thing that ATT and Bellsouth are planning. If the pipes are big enough, what's the issue?

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

acil (916155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402888)

Net Neutrality is a broad concept that has not been specifically defined. However, QoS and net neutrality go hand in hand. In order to give poor service to one customer or better service to another, you need a mechanism to differentiate and prioritize that traffic. Access lists and policy based routing are other methods, but niether method is as versatile as QoS.

The idea of QoS and being able to give specific traffic special treatment is, by itself, a wonderfull idea and opens a doorway to services and technology that wouldn't otherwise be available. Your worries are that an ISP is going to go overboard and charge people just to use the service. However, AT&T hasn't implemented anything of the sort, and they've had the technology to do so for years.

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

rekoil (168689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17399692)

That's about the *only* place where I can see AT&T wanting the ability to prioritize their traffic. But there's nothing stopping them from extending the concept from prioritizing their own IPTV traffic to taking money from other concent operators to have their traffic prioritized, or even have access to the all of the customer's pipe. The real-world scenario here could be something like AT&T not allowing a single site to send traffic at the customer's full IP line rate unless they pay an extra fee to AT&T.

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400404)

Unfortunately, IPTV is being used to discriminate already. There are many complaints of IPTV service being provided only to wealthy neighbourhoods, citing cost barriers to entry for the service in poorer, outlying neighbourhoods. So, now all I have to do is buy IPTV, and the side-effect is that my other 'net traffic is prioritized ahead of that guy who not only can't afford IPTV, but doesn't even have it available for him.

IPTV is clearly a loophole to avoid true 'net-neutrality.

Read the earlier discussion about AT&T being involved in unjust fiber rollouts here [slashdot.org]

mandelbr0t

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

acil (916155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402918)

Rolling out the product initially to "wealthy neighborhoods" makes perfect sense. It doesn't make any sense to roll fiber to everyones house at once, before offering the service to a few pilot areas. Also, as it is a somewhat expensive service, initially deploying it in upper class neighborhoods gives a bigger likelyhood of more subscribers.

When they prioritize your IPTV traffic, thats exactly what they do, prioritize your TV traffic. Your regular 'net traffic will be treated just the same as every other DSL customer. They're not looking to screw the common person, they're looking to provide a revolutionary service and the only way that works reliably is to prioritize the traffic.

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17401874)

QoS allows you to guarantee that specific traffic will get a certain amount of bandwidth (provided you have it to give.) That's nice, but it's not the only thing we're talking about here. QoS is just one method of fair queuing. I think what we're more worried about is that ALL traffic whose publishers have not paid your ISP will be bundled down into one low-speed connection, which is not about QoS but about actual router traffic limiting.

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

acil (916155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17402970)

You're still talking about prioritizing, which is QoS. The other forms of queueing, outside of policy based routing, cannot differentiate traffic based on the source in order to give them less priority.

The problem people are worried about (read: AT&T has never implemented anything of the sort. AT&T's stance towards the internet is to be as seemless and invisible to the customer as possible) is that someone will block traffic and request a payment. This would undoubtedly cause a serious drop in subscriber count. I know I wouldn't stay with an ISP that blocks google because google won't pay to get to me.

Re:Net Neutrality isn't always a good thing... (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17403492)

'AT&T said it would "maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service"'

Note that AT&T said that they would only provide for net neutrality on the local loop (and only for 40 months). Net nuetrality is always a good thing on the backbone. It's a very important thing there, in fact. Forget your Britney Spears albums for a moment, OK? We're talking about whether you will have to pay AT&T when you want to send a packet to Blizzard's servers on L3's network and whether emerge --sync will now take a fortnight if you don't happen to hit a mirror in Ma Bell's backyard.

It's arguably less important, but unless you want to see the AOL / Compuserve / Prodigy BBS fracturing of the internet, you should look past Britney's bust and see the bigger picture.

Divesture? (1)

BobSutan (467781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17399560)

Seriously, with all the mergers in the telecom world what was the point of breaking up Ma Bell in the first place? If this is allowed to continue in a few more years we're going to be right back at square 1 again.

Re:Divesture? (1)

acil (916155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17403116)

The difference being that the AT&T companies are "silo'd" so that they can only interact with each other the same as any other company can. While they are all under the same roof, this actually impedes the effeciency of the company because they have to have seperate databases and deal with seperate companies.

While a Comcast phone monkey can take a call from a customer and at the same time schedule a technician dispatch to troubleshoot the problem, AT&T cannot. When an AT&T phone monkey gets a call about a down internet line, that technician calls another department, opens a ticket, goes through the troubleshooting process, then that department calls another departments, opens a ticket, troubleshoots. Then that department calls another departments, opens a ticket... it can get to the point where you have 10 seperate entities on the phone at a time for one single circuit.

Ma bell is definately a different animal today than it was 30 years ago.

Most of these 'concessions' sunset after 40 months (2, Insightful)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17399594)

Observing network neutrality for 3 1/4 years is not a concession it's just an inconvenience, after the time is up they can start building the internet toll road they have been dreaming of for years.

Politicians always agree to these dumb time limits without thinking long term. The internet will be around for a hell of a lot longer than 40 months and they should understand that - the telcos sure as hell do.

Think about this... (1)

OPAlex (600011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400266)

AT&T nee SBC nee Ameritech nee Illinois Bell is - the last time I looked - paying more than one million dollars a day in fines. I guess it's just the price of doing businesses.

AT&T - service so bad they've rebranded the company three times (and counting).

Yeah... (1)

bucky0 (229117) | more than 7 years ago | (#17400480)

Ask the GAIM developers how much fun they've had with the IM protocol that AOL was forced to open. "Oh, you want to use new features? yeah, we're not opening _that_ protocol"

Skyrocketting prices already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402392)

Just a couple days ago I received a postcard from AT&T about rate changes. All rather insane price increases. Caller ID, for example? Increasing from $6.17 to $7.99. I call bullshit.

Re:Skyrocketting prices already (1)

anubi (640541) | more than 7 years ago | (#17404994)

I got that postcard too.

It started off saying "At AT&T, we are committed to bringing you great service.", followed by the usual corporate marketdroid head-farts telling me that "Now is the perfect time to switch to a new AT&T package that better fits your needs!".

The back of the postcard was full of rate changes. All nasty increases.

I was already pissed at SBC for getting into bed with YAHOO, requiring me to load proprietary YAHOO portal software on my machine. This resulted in my dropping PacBell, which I have had for five years as my ISP.

Now this.

And they have the nerve to give me their "bargain rates" of $24 and $26 a month for their bundles? Geez, they oughta just go ahead and throw in high speed DSL at those rates!!! This is likely to be just another "AT&T Price" which is apt to double in a year anyway.

Companies like AT&T are one of the main reasons I distrust MegaBusiness. They have the chutzpah to mail out all kinds of demands to customers in order to do business with them. They think 30% hikes are easy to swallow? I know I am talking peanuts in comparison to the salary and benefits AT&T is paying that marketdroid who sent me this card. AT&T Executives can sit in their boardroom shaking hands. I have made it my business to get AT&T out of my life as much as I can.

Irregardless, I will be dropping Caller ID, even though I did like it. Damm, I can buy an answering machine for less than two month's CallerID fee.

I know where I stand with AT&T. Absolutely useless. I am one of millions of proles dutifully getting our checkbooks out every month and returning a check with our statements. Why would a multibillion dollar corporation want me or my lousy twenty dollar check? Why would some corporate executive piss off millions of paying customers.... I get the idea his hand was itching something terrible and he needed a handshake from some man wearing a suit.

What would THEY do if I sent them a postcard saying I will pay 30% LESS? I didn't because I wanted to keep doing business with them. They DO have the chutzpah to send ME such a card.

Being a successful corporate executive these days appears to me to be highly related to one's skill in finding a person who will pay them a salary far beyond the benefit they provide. Its having the "people skills" to lead the man who approves their job to keep them, even while they shit on their customers.

The boardroom votes over a long corporate table. The proles vote over their checkbook and pen.

Both decide if its worth it to do business with the other.

As long as the game is in play, AT&T gets paid monthly. With their card, they raise. Do I fold or call? They have initiated endgame.

In short, this kind of shit requires a CEO at the top who completely disregards his customers, and is willing to risk longterm customer relationships over a marketing ploy. Do you wanna kill the geese laying the golden eggs?

Today, the barbeque, tomorrow, the famine.

I am now investigating any alternative I have to AT&T for land lines. I am of the opinion that land lines, even though they have existed for years, may just be completely economically obsolete. I hope Wal Mart decides to run a cellphone service, as I think they are one of the very few concerns out there which has enough capital to start such a system and do it right.

Your Rate Increase. Delivered. AT&T.

$200B class action lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17402520)

Does anyone remember the USAToday story last May? You know, the one exposing AT&T and BellSouth's role in illegal warrantless wiretaps and domestic spying by turning over all their call records to the NSA? Maybe Bush WILL have to put this on the front burner when the new Congress takes over after all.

Re:$200B class action lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17404094)

There are about 40 class action lawsuits pending in San Francisco against AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth, and other telcos seeking billions of dollars.

Promise to observe network neutrality ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17403990)

Remember folks, this is not the AT&T of old we're talking about, this is SBC, the Southern Bastards Club, arguably the most abusive the RBOCs. Remember Edward J. Whitacre's comments regarding network neutrality:

"Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using," he said, according to Business Week Online's edited excerpts of the interview.

"Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts," he said.


So, given the rather unenlightened attitude evidenced by this double-dipping bastard I think I have reason to ask: what assurances is AT&T/SBC providing that they will not only maintain some level of neutrality, but will continue to do so in the future? Bland "assurances" mean absolutely nothing, and if the SEC takes them at their word in this matter I'll lose a lot of respect for that organization. It isn't wise to believe anything coming out of a telephone company executive's mouth, just on principle, and that applies to most cable company management as well.

This is all BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17404050)

Well this is what has happened correct me if I am wrong. Baby bells We want DSL dergulation FCC says yes ok. (Baby Bells run almost all DSL opponents out of the ring by either buying them or putting them out of business. Thankfully for consumers cable did some homework and in most areas have better service than dsl. Baby bells form a secret meeting( Joking or am I) to reconsolidate the ATT telephone empire. Offers big concession package to seal deal. Meanwhile big telco is preparing to launch various FTTH projects which would thereby make DSL garbage service which in some area's it is. Does anyone else find it odd that they would decide to offer the new terms after geting OK'd to offer TV/Programing and compete with cable on the content side. Ohh lets not mention the fact that when big telco decides to light up the hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber that is dark that they "Own" Cable will be in no position to compete. So I think I should start taking bets on when big telco will be split up again for being a monopoly on the market again. But hey that is just my $.02

It's official (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17404744)

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17405532)

How much time and money did we spend breaking them up in the first place?

Now we're letting them get back together? How stupid...
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