August 06, 2005

Starving Access, Feeding Irony

The FCC has released DSL providers from competition requirements, and the FCC says, well, good god just read it. Emphasis mine:

The Federal Communications Commission ruled Friday that Internet DSL providers like SBC will no longer be required to lease high-speed lines to independent rivals.

The FCC ruling follows a Supreme Court decision in June that said cable companies do not have to open up their networks to Internet service providers. Together, the decisions deliver a possibly lethal blow to small broadband companies, who could be shut out of the Bay Area's two most widely used high- speed networks, SBC and Comcast.

... "I believe that, with the actions we take today, consumers will reap the benefits of increased Internet access competition and enjoy innovative high- speed services at lower prices," said Kevin Martin, the FCC chairman, in a statement.

SBC applauded the ruling, saying it would ultimately spark more competition, encourage innovation and keep costs down. ...

Rotten, rotten, rotten to the core.

Posted by natasha at August 6, 2005 11:24 PM | Media | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Sorry, but I think I'm going to side with Nate on this one.

Posted by: AngelHedgie at August 7, 2005 10:14 PM

The FCC decision certainly sounds anti-competitive at first glance. On the other hand, the FCC required local telephone companies to set up a very byzantine system of managing their DSL service in order to ensure "fairness" in "competing" with independent DSL "providers".

I found this out the hard way back in the fall of 2003, when I had just moved to Woodinville, and ordered DSL from Verizon (the "local" phone company). As I eventually found out, the DSL end of things was required to be handled by a separate Verizon corporation -- which was based in some far away state back east.

This Verizon DSL entity had to contract with the local Verizon company in exactly the same way as would an "independent" DSL "provider". Not only that, but absolutely no one at the local Verizon phone company was authorized to speak with local Verizon customers about their supposed "Verizon" DSL service. Everything had to go through several byzantine layers at the Verizon DSL entity. Only certain people at the Verizon DSL entity could speak to people at the local Verizon phone company. And to top things off, Verizon DSL customers couldn't even speak directly to the people at the Verizon DSL entity that were authorized to speak to people at the local Verizon telephone company.

The process was completely maddening. The service was finally installed more than a month after it was originally promised. No one at the local Verizon company would talk to me about the numerous delays. No one at the Verizon DSL entity knew what was happening at the local level. When people came out to do work, or check things out, these folks were regular local Verizon company employees -- but the local Verizon office couldn't talk to me!

Billing was done by the local Verizon phone company, and started on the date service was initially promised, and not on the actual installation date (over one month later). The initial "FREE" month of service that I was promised mysteriously disappeared. I was also supposed to have a 30 day free trial, with no obligation if I cancelled by then.

But the local Verizon billing office refused to talk to me about this matter. Interestingly enough, even though the local Verizon company and the Verizon DSL entity were supposed to be separate entities, I was originally "sold" the DSL service by a customer service representative from the local Verizon company. But thereafter, no one from the local Verizon company would talk to me.

I could go on and on. It took an enormous amount of effort to get this service cancelled and the billing corrected, stopped and refunded. Verizon sent me FIVE modems. I returned three of them (USPS delivery confirmation), and kept the other two as a free gift -- since they deliberately sent the last two to me after cancellation. They tried to bill me for four unreturned modems, but finally relented.

It would be very easy to blame this fiasco on the fact that Verizon is a fairly crooked company with overpaid, do-nothing executives. But I don't think the FCC "fair competition" rules -- which they have apparently just repealed -- helped matters any.

Posted by: Richard Pope at August 8, 2005 01:25 AM

No, it is anti-competitive.

Comcast already contracts to third-party 'Comcast contractors' who maintain the network... This meant last month when my network went out, there was no one to fix it. It still hasn't been fixed, even though a Cocast tech has come three times, seen, diagnosed as much as he could, and put in tickets.

DSL is no different. Someone owns the lines, they contract out to someone to maintain them. As long as one person owns those lines - they control whoever maintains them, and who can use them.

The Byzantine rules were rough, but they didn't stop the local company from having local people. That's a fib run by the company, who didn't want local DSL people dealing with DSL customers, because that's an additional expense.

Don't buy into the lies the communications companies spin.

Posted by: Crissa at August 8, 2005 05:04 PM