Telecom: Wrapping Up

The entries I’ve written for the past month or so examine the role technology plays in everyday life. I’ve noticed that many of the entries during this time unconsciously seemed to focus on the negative aspects of telecommunications that we face, particularly corporate consolidations and the effect of telecommunications service interruptions on society.

In a way, this isn’t particularly surprising. I’ve been an advocate for strong protections of the freedom of expression (as well as the other freedoms protected by the Constitution) for about as long as I’ve been a netizen. These freedoms are essential for understanding the world we live in, and finding common ground on issues of morality, ethics, and peace.

Today’s telecommunications enables all of these rights to be exercised freely, but only if we choose to. I feel that we’re rapidly approaching a stage where the amazing freedom that telecommunications has enabled today will be surpassed by a new era, when technology is used to suppress people and force them to conform.

Like all technologies, the trick to making telecommunications technologies valuable is to ensure that they’re free from regulation, reliable, and available as widely as possible. It is in our interest to do so, because it will enable the discourse that maintains our free society.

Ma Bell: Even Closer

The new AT&T (created by a merger of AT&T and SBC late last year) is once again shopping for companies to merge with. This time, they’re looking to purchase BellSouth, for $67 billion. Among other things, the merger would result in AT&T completely owning wireless phone carrier Cingular. Verizon and Qwest will be the only two remaining Regional Bell Operating Companies.

Analysts expect that AT&T will have little trouble getting merger approval from the FCC.

Last year, Verizon sold off its Hawai’i landline division to Hawaiian Telcom. As a result, customers will likely see minimal change. Cell phone customers, however, may see increasingly steep discounts as AT&T and its competitors try to achieve superiority in the industry.