TELECOM Digest Editor noted in response to firstname.lastname@example.org:
> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: What Sam Spade does not grasp, and what
> the telcos grasp all too well, is that most non-telco people do not
> understand, nor do they care about the workings of the telephone
> company. Over the past century, telco has made lots of money based on
> the ignorance of the general public, and they are still at it. PAT]
There are a lot of guilty parties in this.
Some state legislatures and PUCs that purport to be protecting
consumers actually end up costing consumers money and adding to
For example, take the conversion from calls being cash toll to message
unit, many consumers would end up saving money. Under the cash
system, every call was a charge. Under the message unit system, every
customer had an allotment of units; if they did not exceed that
allotment they got free calls that otherwise would've cost. Further,
the cost per msg-unit dropped for high volumes, so high volume callers
got an additional discount. The phone company gained efficiency by
avoding detail billing of literally nickel and dime calls which was
passed on to consumers.
Well, the PUCs mandated detail billing which raised the cost and other
modifications in the public interest. They made something that was
relatively simple rather complex.
Fast forward to today's phone bill. My bill is so thick it requires
extra weight postage yet I have flat rate service! There are many
lines of detailed expenses for literally pennies. Money is broken
down into many overlapping categories that make no sense. This
confusion isn't from the phone company, it's from government milking
the taxes and PUCs trying to "protect" me (and deadbeats who don't pay
The government mandated "competition" so we had an explosion of new
exchanges. That meant 10,000 numbers were set aside even though only a
few hundred at most would be used. That resulted in numerous new area
codes and overlays which add to the confusion.
The old line phone companies adopted a "can't beat them, then join
them" philosophy. They're getting hammered by cheapo and sleazy
competitors so they've had to do the same practices to cut costs and
Let me emphasize that competition does not mean prices will be as low
as possible. Prices will drop to a common shared equilibrium. Cell
phones run around $40/month now they were a lot cheaper before. All
the companies charge roughly the same. They could lower prices but
don't want to.