TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Foreign Listings for Residences

Re: Foreign Listings for Residences

Fred Atkinson (
Thu, 03 May 2007 20:12:42 -0400

On 3 May 2007 07:37:57 -0700, wrote:

> So what you're saying is that the telephone system remained frozen
> from 1876 to 1983? That's ludicrous.

I'm saying that to the end user, there wasn't. He had a telephone and
he had to pay for that service. He couldn't put anything on his line
unless AT&T was paid to provide it.

The real (explosive) revolution started when AT&T was in a position
where they knew they had to change or be devoured by the competition.

> Your statement conveniently ignores the explosion in electronics that
> occured at the same time as divesture. Cheap electronics
> (microprocessors, IC chips) allowed cheap telephone service, just as
> it allowed cheap computers and computerized washing machines and TV
> sets. (What kind of TV set would $300 buy you in 1983 compared to
> today, and that's not even adjusting for inflation.)

But would he be looking at HDTV or other forms of video that were

> MCI was into cream skimming. The Bell System was tightly regulated.
> It was public policy -- pushed by the government -- that service costs
> were averaged across a wide body of users. Thus a 100 mile toll call
> cost the same anywhere in the U.S. regardless of the actual costs of
> supporting that call. In some places of high volume such calls were
> cheap to handle and very profitable, in places of low volume or
> difficult terrain such calls were extremely expensive. MCI sought
> only the profitable routes, not the expensive stuff. Further, MCI did
> not provide any support for users that the Bell System provided.

I see you are still brainwashed from all of the propaganda that Bell
put out when they were fighting competition. It is normal for
businesses to pursue the most profitable markets. As time went by,
MCI began to provide services to a lot more cities. They didn't have
the advantage of 'Universal Telephone Service' to fund those markets
that would otherwise become money losers, either.

The Bell System had to be heavily regulated because it was such a
predator. It wanted to be able to dictate the way the PSTN developed
and how it could be used. To that end, they would have full economic
control of the market. That's not a healthy economic subsystem by any

MCI's entry into the long distance market was much like defeating a
famous fighter by techniques that would overcome the opponent (anyone
come to mind here?). As AT&T had never contemplated being in compe-
tition, it designed business practices that did not work so well in
competition. I lay that solely on bad business foresight on their

But they charge for such things today, don't they?

> If at the time the Bell System was allowed to actual costs for toll
> services, MCI would have had a very short life.

As I recall the ENFIA tarriff, I'd have to disagree.

> An analogy would be: You open a restaurant next door to a long
> established restaurant. Your customers use the old restaurant's
> bathrooms and parking lot, you are saved the capital expense and
> headache of building your own. You get to charge lower prices.

It's a poor analogy at best. MCI provided their own parking slots at
19th Street as I recall. I parked there a number of times myself.
And also at their Tyson's Corner and Pentagaon City locations as well.
I've never seen any AT&T signs at those locations. Enough humor.

But you can't seriously be suggesting that we'd be better off with a
totalitarian PSTN.

> In practical terms: If you dialed 0 under the Bell System, an operator
> promptly answered and gave you whatever rates you needed. You had
> 24/7 repair service and a competent business office. MCI offered none
> of those things (I tried them, there was no support, not even to get
> rates).

But they charged considerably less. And you could call your account
rep or customer service to find out what the rates were.

I remember dispatching to 14th Street at an ungodly hour of the night.
I had to get a supervisor to intervene only because 14th Street was
not somewhere it was safe for me to be (especially at that hour). And
I was called in to fix customer problems at almost any time. Yes, it
was when I worked for MCI.

> Carterfone was about ECONOMICS, not technology. People wanted to save
> money. Again, it was cream skimming:

Carterfone was about the liberation of the PSTN. Economics are always
a driving force, of course. Like DPN was the beginning of the civil
rights movement for the Deaf at Gallaudet University, Carterfone was
the beginning of the civil rights movement on the PSTN.

> As mentioned, here too public policy was that business customers
> would pay more to offset other segments. People who wanted a plain
> vanilla single line single phone paid an extremely low rate compared
> to today and there were a great many of those customers. It was a
> goal of both the phone company and government to encourage universal
> service, so they provided that basic entry at low cost.

You are really spouting the company propaganda, aren't you?

And I seem to remember the pricing differences of the equipment that
they sold that got them into so much trouble with the Justice

Universal Phone Service was a good thing. But you must
remember that the utility it gave the customers it took the money from
to subsidize these local services gave those who provided it the
utility of calling their relatives in some small town in the middle of
the desert (where they might have relatives or someone they are doing
business with). It should still be practiced by the local phone
companies. But with the customer base I think it would be even less
of a demand on the users in the more dominant markets.

> Buying independently produced equipment -- which often wasn't as good as
> Western Electric gear -- was a lot cheaper since the vendor didn't have
> the overhead costs of the Bell System.

Or the economic control?

> Note that the Bell System was required by the government to share its
> patents (1956 consent decree). That meant competitors got the
> benefits of Bell System research and expertise without the costs.

And why did they have to enter into such a consent decree?

> As to directory listings, I agree with others that it should be your
> carrier's responsibility to set them up.

It would be nice. But I suspect that they don't do it because they'd
have the same treatment as I've gotten when they tried to arrange it
with the local companies. Would any of the local companies treat them
any different from the way I have been treated? Probably not.

The local companies are overlooking a way that could return them money
for doing very little physical work. Give them sight so that they
might see.

I'd really like to see a lawsuit that would smack one of the locals on
the wrist about these practices. It would wake up the others.
Regretfully, legal action and money are all those who run the major
local companies seem to understand.

> Good phone service and Bell Labs. =20

... at the price of having Bell dictate what we could and could not
do on the PSTN.


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