TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Hanging up on the New Ma Bell

Re: Hanging up on the New Ma Bell
12 Dec 2005 09:57:29 -0800

Arthur Kamlet wrote:

> Except that AT&T fought for and succeeded in keeping the name:
> Bell Laboratories.

At the time of divesture everyone thought the "Bell" name had major
value, thus the fight to keep it.

A lot of things turned out differently that what was expected in 1984
thanks to technology and regulatory changes. Former strengths
evaporated, former weaknesses grew strong.

However, as it turned out, the Bell name became of little value,
indeed, almost a negative. I thought Bell Atlantic was foolish when
it changed its name to Verizon, but it turned out to be a smart
decision. The future -- high profits -- were in new technologies not
associated with the stodgy old Bell System basic black 500 set. Even
though Bell developed a great many technical things, using the trade
name Verizon on new and modern ads just seems to fit better. I just
can't see an ad by the Bell System featuring Gwen Stefani rockin'
along as Verizon uses for its cell phones, or Motorola's ad showing a
woman squeezing into skintight slacks that still has room for her
slimphone*. Indeed, I'm not even sure they're using James Earl Jones
as their spokesman anymore.

The big profit money (unregulated new services) is with the young
people who get cell phones galore, use them a lot (note T-Mobile's ads
with the talking cheerleader), text message, download everything,
heavy duty Internet service, etc. These people never heard of and
could care less of the old Bell System, the guys struggling in snow
shoes up the mountain in the blizzard to maintain the microwave tower,
operators on duty as flood waters creep up to their floor, etc.

In the unregulated world, I think Verizon is doing quite well with that
stuff, especially without the regulatory burdens of serving the poor,
rate filings, etc. I suspect the kids (and adults) lose their phones
regularly and spend big bucks to get out of the contracts, which is
pure profit for them. They would never let a regulated company do

Verizon sticks the old Bell logo on the _side_ of payphone mounts,
probably just to reassure old geezers like myself. Admittedly I still
prefer to use a "real" payphone rather than an "imitation", although
any call beyond the local area will be terribly costly, and some
imitation phones are actually cheaper for such calls. (Many
traditional real payphones still have the "Bell System Property Not
For Sale" on the cover of the coin return slot.)

*In the old days, a slimphone was the Trimline set, offered at a
premium price.

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