David Cay Johnston
The New York Times
It’s time to break up the phone companies again, said David Cay Johnston. Ever since the government dismantled the Bell monopoly in 1984, we’ve been promised innovation, better service, and lower prices. Instead, the business has “reconcentrated into a stodgy duopoly of Bell Twins”—AT&T and Verizon—offering low quality and high prices. Each company has become “the leader of its own cartel,” selling mobile services along with the “triple play” of Internet, landline services, and TV. With no competitive incentive to improve, the duopoly is bilking American consumers. The average U.S. triple-play package sells for $160 a month, compared with $38 in France. The French also get better services, including “an Internet that’s 20 times faster uploading data.” Industries that need an “ultra-high-speed network” are starting to head elsewhere. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon “are telling lawmakers that they need less regulation, not more.” The Bell Twins have already gotten six states to repeal Americans’ right to get phone service at any address. The only remedy is competition. “The nation can’t afford to leave its future in the hands of cartels.”
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