Monday, December 18, 2006

Universal disaster: Over the last year, AT&T has been fighting Chicago-area suburbs over the right to install an IPTV-based television, telecommunications and networking system. The dispute is over whether AT&T can do these upgrades without violating Illinois law; but it involves the usual players, and the obscene profits that Comcast makes by jacking up their service charges and not improving service. Ars Technica (!) reports:

One of the oddities about the current standoff is that everyone involved wants more competition (except, perhaps, Comcast). AT&T wants the chance to compete, local residents want more choices and lower prices, and the government officials I spoke would love to be the ones who can deliver for their citizens. Gary White in Wheaton fields the stream of local complaints about Comcast and the lack of alternatives, and he would be thrilled to have more providers in town. What he, along with most others, won’t do is allow that competition to use a public asset (the rights-of-way) for private gain without serving the entire area.

AT&T has attempted to capitalize on the widespread loathing felt for cable monopolies by pointing out that rates have risen dramatically in the last decade. In Wheaton, for instance, the price for standard cable increased from $23.61 in 1996 to $46.99 in 2006, and local provider Comcast has been hauling the dollars in by the bucketful. Comcast had a net income of $928 million for all of 2005, but has done so well this year that it racked up $1.2 billion in net income in the third quarter of 2006 alone.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I know when Verzion was rolling out FiOS in our town, they originally wanted to target the higher-income neighborhoods. The town council said, sure, no problem, you can use the right-of-ways to drop in lines, but you have to wire the entire town, so that anyone who wants FiOS will have access to it.

Verizon agreed, and everyone I talk to around here has switched to FiOS for their 'net access and landline phone. I have a few friends in the neighborhood who are signed up with the FiOS TV as well, and they like it. Not to mention getting a discount for having all three services, and the handy one bill.