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AT&T, Verizon probed: 'No escape from biz broadband packages'

Stop

Ground Control to Major Tom

"in a space that is highly competitive and getting more so as cable companies and other new entrants aggressively compete."

Seriously, on what planet does AT&T live? Or maybe it's the drugs...

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Silver badge

Re: Ground Control to Major Tom

They live on Planet Profit. Any competition that might force them to drop their prices to consumers will dent profits. Money is a drug.... right?

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Bronze badge

"Hello", lied the carrier's rep.

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Anonymous Coward

Wait. What?

Verizon

"build infrastructure"

"invest"

Ha

Haha

HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:winded:

Woo, couldn't breathe there for a few minutes. I'm all better now.

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Re: Wait. What?

Yeah. The implication is that the investigation(s) inhibit fiber build out - for which the big players have already been paid (with tax dollars, no less), but have yet to deliver.

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Silver badge

Protected

The incumbents in these markets seem to be highly protected from any competition. I would not be surprised to see the FCC told to back away from these sorts of investigations, as AT&T and Verizon both spend a lot of money on campaign contributions.

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Anonymous Coward

Seriously?

You guys act like ILECS never put any money into infrastructure. If they didn't, you wouldn't have anything faster than dialup access. DSL may sound like crap now, but when it was rolled out it was 10 to 20 times faster than anything else available in most areas and consumers begged for it. In most cases they have continued to upgrade and improve levels of service. Cable companies dump millions into upgrading old analog coax distribution networks into fiber digital network, in part so that they can compete with the ILECs. As consumers, we have benefited.

In 1995 you had to pay $20/month for a dialup account plus another $30/month for the phone line. That $50 equates to $78.07 in 2015 dollars. What does $78 dollars buy you now? I pay less than that for multi-megabit broadband access delivered over fiber. What costs me less than $70/month today would have cost me over $10,000/month 20 years ago.

When you account for inflation, the prices really haven't changed that much, but what has changed is the speeds you get for that money. THAT is where the competition has driven improvement.

Of course, customer service still sucks - but that is a given.

I challenge anyone who wants to downvote me to explain how they get the same or less speeds now for the same or less money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seriously?

"I challenge anyone who wants to downvote me to explain how they get the same or less speeds now for the same or less money."

http://stopthecap.com/2012/05/02/new-york-accuses-verizon-of-abandoning-quality-landline-service-its-a-duopoly/

http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/09/att-verizon-must-pay-for-investigation-of-service-quality-problems/

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/03/verizon-accused-of-refusing-to-fix-broken-landline-phone-service/

There is more to "service" than just your internet speed, you know. Like, actually having service in the first place. After being without Verizon service in our last business location for 2 weeks, when we relocated we took the first opportunity given to us to say "Bye bye, Verizon!" One of our customers followed us after not having [Verizon] phone service for 3 MONTHS.

To say "They suck", for their land services, is being generous.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Seriously?

Copper is dead. It is an aging technology, infrastructure in many urban areas that is up to 100 years old, originally installed by companies no longer in existence. Incumbent carriers have absolutely zero interest in maintaining that infrastructure because it is not economically feasible to do so.

Verizon has specifically and publicly stated that they want OUT of the copper business. Forget selling it because nobody is buying - but they will PAY companies like Frontier to take over the infrastructure. Glass costs less than copper, is immune from interference issues in an ever-increasing RF hostile environment, and is capable of handling services well beyond that of the copper infrastructure. Why build out new copper?

When the government created competitive exchange carriers in an attempt to increase competition, the unintended consequence is that they FORCED the incumbent carriers to abandon the copper plant - because they made it so that the incumbents could not recover the true costs of installation and maintenance.

Each of the articles to which you linked touch on two things - the copper infrastructure and customer service.

Customer service sucks across the board, and it is always going to suck. Why? Because customer service costs money, and it isn't that the companies don't want to spend the money - it is because CONSUMERS don't want to spend it.

In the days of the old AT&T and General Telephone they could force the consumer to spend more because they had a monopoly. Break up the monopoly to create competition and drive prices down -- and it worked -- but he first place that got cut is customer service and it will never come back. If two services which you perceive to be equal are offered you will choose the less expensive option, so when a low quality service is offered for less nobody buys the higher quality service, until such time as the higher quality of service is no longer offered.

In addition to forcing the kill-off of customer service, congress came down and said that all of the existing infrastructure was old and already paid for - so they couldn't charge the new CLECs anything more than maintenance costs for the wire. So if they spent $100K installing a new copper trunk line with 100 circuits, and an expected annual maintenance of $1000, they could only charge the CLEC $10 for their portion of the circuit - ignoring that the circuit isn't at 100% utilization. Basically, congress said that they would be required to loose money on every mile of copper installed. Well, if you are going to loose money on it, why do it? That was the beginning of the end for the copper, and it was the governments fault for meddling in the market. It did allow the ILEC's to install other services, such as Fiber, which weren't under the same regulations. Those could be run at a profit instead of a loss, thus the push to FTTP - but basically Congress & FCC made the decision to cut long-term infrastructure improvements and customer service in favor is short-term price cuts. The jury is still out on whether it was worth it, but as consumers we HAVE enjoyed the resulting lower costs even if we have had to deal with the decrease in customer service levels and high repair times.

And why the higher repair times? Because fewer new copper lines being installed (because they have to be sold at a loss) coupled with lower demand for new lines means that they don't need as many technicians - cutting between 50% and 70% of the field personnel or transitioning them out of copper. A lot of them went to CLECs or private communication companies, but as the remaining ones aged and retired they were not replaced. So now when something major happens, they just don't have the staff to fix it quickly. Even many of the former employees that became contractors have retired and left the industry.

Even with all of that, the market found a balance and technologies improved - but instead of a nationwide rollout the benefits are more clustered. So you can get fiber in some areas, and some places you just can't. If the population density isn't enough to support it, they aren't going to make money on it, and it isn't going to get installed - and since it is unregulated they aren't REQUIRED to install it like they are with the fiber.

As to your specific issue with Verizon, I'm guessing that you weren't able to get anybody else to provide you with a circuit - otherwise you would just run some SIP trunks and have been back online using VOIP. However, if you couldn't get a circuit it is because nobody else wants to deal with your geographic area - and they don't want to do it because there is no money in it (if there was money in it, they would be there). It still comes down to consumers as a whole not willing to pay more, even if you were individually willing to pay more, those around you killed the market and closed it to you.

There is no easy fix. If we want good copper infrastructure we need to be willing to pay for it, but less and less people and businesses are maintaining lines even as the population is increasing. With half of the lines being dropped, the infrastructure costs per line on those remaining just doubled. People aren't going to pay twice as much, so the infrastructure just ISN'T going to be maintained at the previous levels.

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Anonymous Coward

Think VW is gaming the system? They've got nothing on AT&T.

Go to run a speed test off one of the websites and the speeds match what you are paying for.

Run a test from your PC instead and it's a different story - the results show just a fraction of what you're paying for.

Now there is a good candidate for prosecution under the RICO act.

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AT&T and Verizon are despotic

Here are just a few reminders about just how despicable these two companies really are.

1) Verizon super cookies are back!

https://www.propublica.org/article/verizons-zombie-cookie-gets-new-life

2) https://www.propublica.org/article/a-trail-of-evidence-leading-to-atts-partnership-with-the-nsa

3) 4g/ lte vulnerabilities,AT&T,Verizon

http://www.zdnet.com/article/at-t-t-mobile-verizon-vulnerable-to-several-lte-flaws/?tag=nl.e589&s_cid=e589&ttag=e589&ftag=TREc64629f

I'm sure I could dig up lots more,but maybe its time for another AT&T breakup,and the same for Verizon?

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Flame

For the love of all that is holy THERE'S A BRIDGE FIRE!?

"The terms the Commission is reviewing are commonplace in most commercial contracts, and in fact are being used by our competitors in their own contracts," AT&T vice-president of federal regulator Frank Simone

Now Frankie, if all of your little friends were jumping off bridges do you think your mother and I would let you jump too?

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Facepalm

Re: For the love of all that is holy THERE'S A BRIDGE FIRE!?

His clients certainly would

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Terminator

Re: For the love of all that is holy THERE'S A BRIDGE FIRE!?

Not only would you let him, you would probably be giving him a "gentle" push so that he could join his friends a the bottom.

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Childcatcher

Chains

Images of Marley's Ghost flashed through my mind.

"AT&T and Verizon have ponderous chains.......for sale"

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"The terms the Commission is reviewing are commonplace in most commercial contracts, and in fact are being used by our competitors in their own contracts"

Translation: it CAN'T be illegal - everyone else is doing it.

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