Net Neutrality Links
I’m adding this link to the Net Neutrality Page.
Tom Evslin at Fractals of Change has been following Mr. Whitacre of AT&T more closely than I have. Tom’s detailed account of the merger with BellSouth is quite clearly focused. I’ve only pulled highlights. Read his analysis at at&t Blames Commercial Entities for FCC Delay.
Mr. Evslin’s report begins with the fact that the FCC has again delayed voting on AT&T’s merger/acquisition with/of BellSouth. He includes these lines from the NY Times in which AT&T is quoted as saying:
Ã¢â¬ÅWhile we regret that the merger has been delayed by the self-interest of commercial entities and their litany of unreasonable demands, we look forward to the F.C.C.Ã¢â¬â¢s approval so that we can get about the business of providing the overwhelming benefits the merger represents to consumers, to the economy and to the public interest.Ã¢â¬Â
. . . we regret self-interest of commercial entities?
Excuse me? Are you implying you’re not part of that group? When did AT&T become not for profit? Was I absent that day? If you’re going to imply something untrue to me, please have the decency to be convincing.
Dear Mr. Whitacre, CEO of AT&T, first you said you will charge me and my destination to use “your pipes.” Now your company says that commercial entities are in the way of your “overwhelming benefits to the public interest.”
Tom Evslin says,
ItÃ¢â¬â¢s the hypocrisy thatÃ¢â¬â¢s annoying. Much more important is that this acquisition is significantly anti-competitive and is NOT in the public interest, far from it.
I have to agree with him.
Refusing emergency wireless voicemail access is only one in the list of things NOT “in the public interest” AT&T and BellSouth have done to date. MA Bell is back. Do read on. I missed most of this until Tom Evslin put it in one place.
Tom Evslin’s Data
I turn the conversation over to Tom here. He’s done the work, made the list, and presented the case.
at&tÃ¢â¬â¢s press release announcing the merger does seem to hint that they, too, have some of the Ã¢â¬Åself-interest of a commercial entityÃ¢â¬Â:
Ã¢â¬ÅSubstantial financial benefits for stockholders of both companies; an expected net present value of $18 billion in synergies resulting from a more than $2 billion annual run rate in synergies (nb. Corporate-speak for layoffs) expected in 2008, growing to $3 billion in 2010 Ã¢â¬ÅExpect merger to be accretive to AT&T adjusted earnings per share in 2008, double-digit adjusted EPS growth in each of next three years (earnings adjusted for merger integration costs and amortization of intangibles) and significant growth in free cash flow after dividends in 2007 and 2008Ã¢â¬Â
Here are a few of the reasons why the acquisition is not in the public interest:
at&t chairman Ed Whitacre has been clear that he considers Internet access and backbone Ã¢â¬Åmy pipesÃ¢â¬Â that he has every right to double-bill for (as is traditionally done in telephony) and on which he can selectively bill for equal access. . . . This merger creates several duopolies: Verizon-at&t for the bulk of landlines and backbone, telco and cable already existing for wired access, Cingular and Verizon wireless for mobile access. . . . Ã¢â¬Åpublic spiritedÃ¢â¬Â at&t has used its power as the monopoly supplier of phone is PXes in Iraq to gouge American troops. BellSouth tried to use its legislative clout in Louisiana to force the shutdown of municipal WiFi in New Orleans despite the fact that this service was and is key to recover and filling a gap which BellSouthÃ¢â¬â¢s still-damaged network didnÃ¢â¬â¢t. Both BellSouth and at&t have refused to provide voicemail as an emergency service to customers for whom landline service is failed and have misrepresented the costs of doing that in comments to the FCC.
[ . . . ]
Good wireless access to the Internet is our best hope for a free market solution to the cableco-telco monopoly. The greatest danger in this merger is that it both strengthens one companyÃ¢â¬â¢s hold on wireless AND creates and even larger behemoth to bid on new frequencies as they become available. The acquisition would probably be abandoned if the price were divesting Cingular but thatÃ¢â¬â¢s not my problem and would be an indication of the motive behind it.
End note: Mr. Evslin’s piece offers much more than I have in these highlights. Read his post and bookmark his blog.. His tagline explains why I reccomend that. It says nothing great has ever been accomplished without irrational exuberance. I’d like to have a conversation with Tom Evslin one day.
Want to know what to do about the merger?
MA Bell Monopoly Versus the Free Internet Ã¢â¬â Tell the FCC Net Neutrality Is Not Negotiable
–ME “Liz” Strauss
NET NEUTRALITY PAGE