TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Broadband Competition Must Surely be Working

Re: Broadband Competition Must Surely be Working
26 Aug 2005 23:53:15 GMT

In article <>,
<> wrote:

> wrote:

>> We've seen the effects of that many times. And each time it involved a
>> monopoly (or near-monopoly) the results were bad enough to get the
>> government involved. For instance, in the old days you HAD to use IBM
>> software and peripherals with your IBM mainframe. It was called
>> "bundling", and the government eventually stepped in and forced them
>> to unbundle their products and services.

> Actually, IBM chose to unbundle on its own, the government was not
> involved at that time.

Actually, the government WAS involved. The feds filed an antitrust
lawsuit against IBM in 1969. They fought in the courts for 13 years.
I don't recall exactly when during that period IBM unbundled, but I'm
sure the lawsuit had something to do with it :-)

> Remember that customers who wished to buy the full IBM product were
> still able to do so -- customers could go a la carte or take the
> traditional offering.

Not before they unbundled. Until then, if you attached any non-IBM
hardware to your system they would refuse to honor any warranty or
service agreement. Which, given the failure rates back then, was a
very big deal.

Maybe you forgot already that Microsoft almost went the way of the
Bell system, also over bundling issues. The courts had already ordered
a breakup, until the Bush administration stepped in. Even so, it was
only the remedy that was modified, not the court findings.

> When telecom deregulated -- supposedly to give consumers "more"
> choice -- we consumers actually had LESS choice. If my local Bell
> company wanted to sell me long distance, they were forbidden to do
> so (until very recently). I note that now I get my long distance
> from them and dealing with one provider is so much better than
> multiple, plus they give me a good deal.

So you'd prefer being forced to buy long distance service from your
local phone company? My local provider keeps trying to sell me a
package, too, but somehow it's never a very good deal compared to what
I've got now with a 3rd-party.

Excluding the local carrier from selling the service while allowing
multiple competitors didn't give you less choice, it gave you more
(but different) choices. While it may not have been entirely fair,
having N (where N is greater than one) providers is not less than one.

> Saying a company should be a carrier only is like saying IBM can only
> sell hardware and we must buy our software from someone else, even if
> we like IBM's software.

You're not listening. What we're saying is not that they shouldn't be
able to provide their own service on top of the carrier business, but
that they should provide EQUAL ACCESS to others who ALSO want to
provide such a service.

This was the original framework that the phone companies had to
operate within. For quite some time Verizon was required to operate
the Data Services Division (which provided the DSL circuits) as a
separate business unit which had to sell their product back to Verizon
Online at the same rates they charged everyone else.

> Allowing independent manufacturers to hook up their peripherals to IBM
> mainframes had its problems as well, which people forget. If IBM
> enhanced its mainframes, the peripheral makers had to follow suit, but
> sometimes such improvements would be enough to kill them off. If a
> peripheral had trouble, there would be finger-pointing between
> vendors.

Such issues were resolved quickly. Proper troubleshooting techniques
identify the problems fairly accurately.

>> Most of the "examples" you cited aren't valid analogies. In almost
>> every case the "bundles" are value-added services or features that
>> might make using one service slightly mor attractive than using a
>> competing one. The Verizon "bundling" is much more like the sporting
>> event, where you're FORCED to use and pay for the parking facilities
>> associated with the event.

> The line between "value added" and forced bundling is blurry. In any
> event, carriers should be allowed to offer their own bundled package
> and not isolated into a narrow niche.

Not at all. For instance, to use one of your examples, I'm certainly
free to bring my own magazines to the doctor's office. And no one is
saying the carrier shouldn't be allowed to offer their own bundle.
What we're saying is that they shouldn't be allowed to exclude others
from offering similar services.

> Sorry, but outsiders are attempting to dictate to me -- as a consumer
> -- what business arrangements I want to make. You people claim it
> will be "better" for me if you do so.

Ha! You couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it is the phone
company that is trying to dictate to you, and me, what business
arrangements we'll be ALLOWED to make.

John Meissen

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Garrett Wollman: "Re: Broadband Competition Must Surely be Working"
Go to Previous message: Neal McLain: "Re: Broadband Competition Must Surely be Working"
May be in reply to: "Broadband Competition Must Surely be Working"
Next in thread: Garrett Wollman: "Re: Broadband Competition Must Surely be Working"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page