cr> Critique of Telecom Bill


(Reprinted with author's permission.--Andy)

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(quotes from other members of the list deleted.--Andy)

Yes, I have an opinion.  I think its just another example of how this
year's "deregulation" may force monopoly giants (traditional
telecommunications and cable) to compete with each other--but not
really with anyone else--to the ultimate detriment of the consumer.
Local, relatively small business type competition which was starting
to rise "pre-deregulation" now seems to be going away.  The spectrum
auctions have made the cost of entry into the wireless prohibitive for
any but the largest entities.

In the Internet arena, in their still protected niche, the cable
providers will introduce their highly assymetrical bandwidth "pseudo
broadcast" connection to their individual look-alike services and call
it the Internet.  The customers will see the difference and the
traditional phone companies will gobble up small Internet Service
Providers and position their ordinary connectivity as a "premium"
service at "premium" prices.

Having gotten a "discount"--magnitude yet to be determined--in the
telecom act, schools and libraries will get fleeced by both the major
players and fly-by-night outfits.  At the Consortium of School
Networking meeting earlier this week, speaker after speaker, including
those interspersed from such small business sponsors of the meeting as
Nynex, Microsoft, The Discovery Channel, AT&T, et al, said how
wonderful it is that the "universal service" discount now applies to
schools and libraries.

In my opinion, only the last speaker, John Perry Barlow, told it like
it really is--that, as consumers, we would have been better off had
Congress done nothing.  That's certainly true on the civil liberties
front which he emphasizes.  I fear it's just as true on the
competition and bottom line cost front as well.

        Speaking only for myself,
        Jack Buchanan
        Director, Memphis Educational Computer Connectivity Alliance

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