Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"Consumer advocates fear losing AT&T's voice"

USAToday reviews a story that most of the media won't touch: how the purchase of AT&T and MCI by regional Bell companies not only means a loss of competition (isn't buying up your competition a dandy "competitive" strategy?) but almost as importantly means a loss of any large corporate voice fighting for competition and against the increasing deregulation of the baby bells' regional monopolies.

The story is a great read. AT&T's battles to enable competition were at the heart of the regulatory competition that led to the CLEC phenomena and the too-brief period of competition that made so many people and businesses customers of companies like AT&T and EATEL. Its loss before the FCC is what eliminated that competition and led to its withdrawal from the market.

From the story:
Over time, AT&T racked up court victories that fed competition. New entrants, clinging to AT&T like pilot fish trailing a shark, raced to enter the market. Consumers gained a choice of local carriers. Some also saw their phone bills drop. And AT&T built a sterling reputation for standing up for the little guy.

...consumer advocates are nervous. Their biggest fear: that the anti-Bell position, which AT&T promoted for two decades, will now get scant attention. That change, they say, could empower the Bells to flatten the opposition — and consumers — in the legal and political arenas.

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