Just As I Thought

The phone company gets richer

It looks as if the FCC, headed by Republican (and famous son) Michael Powell, is about to abolish the rules that require local phone monopolies to provide cheap access to their networks for other companies. From Reuters:

The expected change by the Federal Communications Commission would be a huge win for the four regional Bell companies, which are trying to continue their domination of the profitable local market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The move would essentially undo the FCC’s key rules intended to make it easier for new providers of local service, including long-distance companies, to compete with the Bells: Verizon Communications (VZ: Research, Estimates), BellSouth Corp (BLS: Research, Estimates)., SBC Communications Inc (SBC: Research, Estimates)., and Qwest Communications International Inc (Q: Research, Estimates).

Instead, the plan would force them to pay higher prices to rent network access or buy more of their own equipment, the paper reported.

The plan, now a draft, could be voted on by the FCC commissioners early next month, according to the Journal, citing people familiar with the plan. It would then have to overcome likely legal challenges from the long-distance companies and state regulators, who have been trying to foster competition and win lower rates in local phone service. In its current form, the plan would take two years to be phased in.

Don’t we already pay far too much for local telephone service? I use a third-party phone company, which saves me about 10% over Verizon, but I still pay $40 a month for a single phone line. Telephone companies pass along each and every little expense involved in their business to the customers and disguise them with names that make customers assume they are taxes. Not true. It’s time to re-regulate, I think. After all these years, how can basic telephone service cost so much more than it used to? And since I have paid so much for their network operations, I think that if Verizon charges other companies more to use their network, I should get a cut of that. If this new plan goes through, do you suppose my phone bill will go DOWN? I think not.
It really makes you realize that, even with their financial problems, the Postal Service provides a really good service for pennies. I could send a really long letter with pictures for 37� – far cheaper than making a long distance call. (And I won’t, for the moment, go into the $60 a month that I pay for a cable modem – cripes.)

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