RANT: The arrogance of AT&T and other monopoly communications “providers”

monopoly communications

Posted a short time ago on NAnewsweb.com is Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley’s article about the arrogance of AT&T, suppressing any competition in wireless and other communications.

I remember very keenly the excitement in 1974 when Richard Nixon’s Attorney-General, William Saxbe, filed the federal lawsuit which resulted in the break up of the AT&T/Bell System monoply. A couple of days later, Jim Wade, the bright and likeable young electrical engineer who was a top AT&T manager in south Florida, spoke at the regular meeting of our Miami Beach Rotary Club.

His opening line was, “I am Jim Wade, formerly of AT&T.” It got a big laugh.

A room full of conservative businessmen knew that AT&T had been raping telephone customers for decades. They looked forward to some relief. Ma Bell had a choke-hold monopoly on telephone service all over the country. Even Ma’s own managers didn’t try to deny it.

The undeniable benefits of competition

A few years later, a federal judge signed the order that finally broke AT&T up into many “Baby Bells” and other units. Smart people throughout the country rejoiced that the Ma Bell monster had finally been slain.

Competition in the free enterprise system works miracles. During the following decade, telephone service improved beyond what anyone could have imagined. The United States got cell phone service, with many companies competing to offer the best service at the best prices. Long distance call rates plunged. Today we can talk by telephone with somebody in Europe for less per minute than it would have cost to call from New Albany to Tupelo in 1980.

In the early 1990s, Internet service started flourishing around America, indeed around the world. As recently as 15 years ago, consumers had a wide choice of affordable cellular phone and Internet service providers.

Monopoly communications providers again grow fat as services lag

Then the monopolies began growing again, stronger and more arrogant than ever. The big money started buying up independent cell phone providers. Likewise, with Internet services. Fewer and fewer companies came to control most of the cell phone and Internet service. Service suffered.

Today in New Albany and Union County, cell service has gotten so bad it’s a cruel joke. Dropped calls. Poor signal strength. So-called 3G and 4G data service that is often essentially useless.  And it’s not just AT&T. Verizon, C Spire and the other few cellular and Internet services still in business provide us with uniformly poor service.

Legislatures are complicit at all levels

The communications dragon has become bigger than it was prior to 1974. The communications companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to ensure that most of the U.S. Congress and most state legislatures (especially including Mississippi’s) are bought and paid for. Lobbyists, pockets filled with cash, whiskey bottles, and the phone numbers of “escort” services roam freely through most of the legislative bodies in the United States, dispensing fun and favors.

Four decades ago, AT&T made a pretense of concern about public interest. Now, they no longer even pretend. Their arrogance and contempt for their own customers is worn proudly for all to see and suffer.

Competition and free enterprise be damned. The monster is again rampant.


To see Brandon Presley’s comments: http://nanewsweb.com/presley-condemns-att-ceos-mockery/

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