Friday, August 17, 2012

People Vs. Communications Monopoly

On Thursday evening there was a showdown of sorts on the telephone - Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Communications Workers of America officials and private citizens participated on a public conference call, urging federal regulators to stop what they call the Verizon-Big Cable monopoly deal.

The CWA union is fighting a deal involving Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon where the three would "partner" to sell services. CWA claims 25-thousand jobs will be lost if the deal is permitted - the union alleges that Verizon has broken promises to provide quality, high-speed broadband service, preferring instead to build its high-technology all-fiber FiOS network in wealthier, predominantly white suburbs of cities including Albany and Boston, Massachusetts.

Verizon offers limited FiOS in the Capital Region, restricted to Guilderland, Bethlehem and Colonie. Schenectady is the only major city in the area with the service.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings says he opposes any communications monopoly. Residents and cable and phone customers called in to voice their concerns - most complaining that service has deteriorated while rates have gone up - others worrying that by offering "voice-over-ip" the companies are conspiring to end landline telephone service.

Think about it: Verizon Wireless replacing all landlines with cellular or fiber.

There was one fellow who joined the call and mentioned the threat to the old Bell Telephone"copper line" system. He likened it to how General Motors ruined America's transit system by destroying the trolley, city by city. [ See ::: Dave Lucas: General Motors Destroyed the U.S. Economy ]

My home phone (landline) hasn't been out of service for as long as I can recall. Even during severe winter and summer storms, power blackouts and brownouts, and during September 11 2001 - the dial tone and the service was always there. I shudder to think what might happen if the landlines go. My neighbor has phone service thru Time-Warner. He says that every Friday after 7pm until Sunday around 3pm he has slow internet, problems making phone calls, and even the cable service "winks out". He pays a bundle for what the cable company serves up as "bundled service." I could never fork over more than a hundred bucks a month for phone, cable and internet and then the best I could hope for is shoddy service when I need it most. No way!

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