Net Neutrality Links
I’m adding this link to the Net Neutrality Page.
AT&T used their monopoly over local service (the telephony last mile) to make it impossible for competition to emerge in long distance or the manufacture of equipment.
It was all so complicated that the FCC was completely overpowered — at the antitrust trial before Judge Greene, DOJ called a bunch of former FCC-ers to testify that they couldn’t supervise the Bell System. This wasn’t market failure, this was regulatory failure. Complete inability to cope.
So Judge Greene drove them through discovery and trial with a firm hand, and after 11 months DOJ and AT&T came up with a consent decree. It separated the local telephone part from everything else (putting local service into the hands of seven operating companies made up of 22 former operating companies). It specifically said that those operating companies couldn’t get into offering content, or manufacturing equipment, or operating long distance service — because they couldn’t be trusted not to discriminate in favor of their own stuff. After the decree and the complicated process of splitting up the company, long distance prices plummeted, a vibrant market for equipment emerged, and the internet arrived.
[. . . ]
So where are we now? The seven operating companies crept back into long distance service, got rid of the consent decree (and Judge Greene’s firm hand) in the 1996 Act, manipulated/litigated their way out of allowing competitive local service to emerge, and now …. they’re mostly reconsolidated. We really have two phone companies in the US: Verizon and AT&T.
And they don’t really have competitors for broadband access — just gentle telco/cableco giants. Maybe colluding gentle giants — the gentlest of all.
[. . . ]
–ME “Liz” Strauss
NET NEUTRALITY PAGE