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The Telecom Digest for Sun, 24 Feb 2019
Volume 38 : Issue 55 : "text" format

Table of contents
Loyalty discount? Don't bet on it.Michael
'Let's Connect' seeks better broadband for rural NCBill Horne
Re: Debt Pressures Nudge Rural Phone Companies Closer to the EdgeFred Goldstein
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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Message-ID: <a4f4f50a-30a8-4d43-8426-fd040675d94a@googlegroups.com> Date: 23 Feb 2019 03:03:35 -0800 From: "Michael" <michael.muderick@gmail.com> Subject: Loyalty discount? Don't bet on it. Last year, after more than 45 years with Verizon, they offered us a "loyalty discount" not to switch to Comcast. We took it and saved $15/month on our internet/landline (no tv) fios service. We ended up paying just under $70/month. After 1 year, they dropped the discount. We called in November, they apologized for the error, and agreed to apply the discount for another year. December- it was gone, We called again. Same story. January again..same story. Yesterday I called. I finally got an agent who "put me on hold." Then disconnected. BUT, NOT ONLY DISCONNECTED, my modem red light goes on- no internet, no land line. On and off for 10 minutes. Finally I get dialtone and call a second time. This time I went through the menus and again a disconnect and no service. Third time- I reach an agent and get disconnected in the middle of my explanation to him. Amazingly he calls me back when service is restored. Puts me on hold and explains that they no longer offer this discount and they just "gave it to me" in November, December, and January. I would no longer be getting a "loyalty discount". Then he tries to sell me the "tv package" which they did on the first 3 calls. He couldn't understand why I'm happy with my antenna system, and don't want to spend another $25, but rather save $15/month. We'll see what next month's bill brings. BTW, after I hung up with him, again a service outage. Just coincidence? ------------------------------ Message-ID: <20190222194550.GA16171@telecom.csail.mit.edu> Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2019 19:45:50 +0000 From: Bill Horne <bill@horneQRM.net> Subject: 'Let's Connect' seeks better broadband for rural NC BY Katie Kienbaum North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, but it lags behind its peers in one key metric - broadband. While North Carolina struggles to connect its small towns and rural communities, most of North Dakota is already blanketed with high quality broadband networks. Thanks to the state's utility cooperatives, which have invested heavily in improving local connectivity, a family in rural North Dakota almost certainly has better Internet access than a household in any one of North Carolina's biggest cities. https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article226430785.html -- Bill Horne (Remove QRM from my email address to write to me directly) ------------------------------ Message-ID: <a8ab2a97-9159-2824-4bbb-d929c1864783@ionary.com> Date: 23 Feb 2019 12:18:38 -0500 From: "Fred Goldstein" <invalid@see.sig.telecom-digest.org> Subject: Re: Debt Pressures Nudge Rural Phone Companies Closer to the Edge On 2/21/2019 4:57 PM, HAncock4 wrote: > On Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 9:18:35 AM UTC-5, Bill Horne wrote: >> Rural telephone companies have tried to embrace the future by offering >> cloud services, bulking up on fiber and pushing broadband, but their >> landline businesses and huge debt loads are keeping them stuck in the >> past. >> >> https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bankruptcy-law/debt-pressures-nudge-rural-phone-companies-closer-to-the-edge-2 > > Nothing new. The independent telephone companies suffered from > low capitalization and high costs back in the 1950s. They had > trouble upgrading their plants to reduce party lines and convert > to dial. > > Even in the 1970s, General Telephone, the biggest independent, > had trouble _upgrading_ to _only_ four-party service in the 1970s. > The following article shows the progress GTE made in upgrades in > 1971. But by 1971, that level of service (four party lines) was > not that great. The rules have changed completely since then, creating new problems for some but not all rural carriers. Pre-1992, essentially all LECs were regulated on rate of return, meaning that they got a nearly-guaranteed profit level based on their rate base (undepreciated capital plant). The more they invested, the more profit. Rural carriers essentially got subsidies via the long distance access charge regime, starting in 1984, wherein they got x cents/minute for interstate calls to and from their turf, the x being based on whatever it took to make their rate of return, and often higher than the retail price of the toll call. Post-1992, large carriers were moved to price caps, wherein their prices were capped at a given level (with adjustments annually) but their profits weren't. This was done both at the federal level and in most states. Since then many "price cap carrier" price caps have been removed. The Bells in particular responded to this, ca. 1993, with massive layoffs and a reduction in investment, since now they were aiming for quarterly profits, not long-term rate bases. Small rural telcos, however, remained on rate of return regulation, and thus entitled to their profits. In 1996, the long distance-based funding mechanism was partially (by now almost totally) replaced with explicit Universal Service Fund money (now funded by a ~20% tax on interstate telecommunications services). This mostly went to small rate-of-return carriers. Thus the Bells were making money in urban areas but losing money in rural areas, with no incentive to invest in rural areas. And it shows. Medium-sized carriers like Windstream, however, were encouraged to move from rate of return to price caps, mostly to reduce their draw on USF. And holding companies with both rate of return and price cap subsidiaries, like CenturyLink, were put entirely under price cap. So now USF mostly goes to small coops, some small investor-owned rural ILECs, and the remaining few rural mom'n'pops. But most of the money is now going to Connect America Fund, which has its own rules. So Windstream, as a price cap carrier with mostly rural holdings, is stuck. They don't get the subsidies small RLECs get, and don't have the profitable urban turf large ones get. Windstream itself is now about half CLEC and half ILEC, with various holdings (like the former Earthlink and Paetec CLECs) in Bell turf, but they don't make a lot either. Basically the system was jiggered in 1992 to allow Wall Street to get short-term profits at the expense of long-term investment, and the chickens came home to roost. -- Fred R. Goldstein k1io fred "at" ionary.com ------------------------------ ********************************************* End of telecom Digest Sun, 24 Feb 2019

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