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Baby Bells Open to Antitrust Lawsuits

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  • Right now! I got the RIAA's, Microsoft's and O.J.'s lawyers. Should be interesting.
  • by Roosey (465478) on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:15PM (#3745224)
    Well, it looks like Verizon's finally open to being sued for monopolistic practices.

    Lawyers to Verizon: "Can you hear us now? Good..." :]
    • While ending AT&T's monopoly on phone service in the 80's has been great for the telecom industry, there is certainly a lot to be desired. What I'm wondering is if the ability to sue the Baby Bells will end up being a vehicle to change the fundamental way they operate or if it will just be a means for class-action lawyers to pad their pockets and their client's pockets.

      If you look at a lot of the third party class-action antitrust suits coming against Microsoft right now, many of them are just after cash. If people sue the Baby Bell's for cash the only thing we will get are worse service and bankrupt phone companies...Can you imagine the service getting any worse?
    • Compared to the hell that is Pacific Bell, Verizon feels like a group of saints.
    • Hey, if a Verizon class action suit is filed on a national level, sign me up! $199 proprietary DSL modems and $80 to install a single jack "sometime between 8 and 5" my ass!
      • if a Verizon class action suit is filed on a national level

        One recently was regarding their wireless service for anyone who was a wireless customer prior to April 2002. And if the class action suit wins? Every customer gets a $15 rebate on their next contract renewal (or $15 rebate on their next hardware purchase), and the lawyer teams who initiated the suit take home $7 million.

        Regardless of the outcome, there's only going to be one winner and it won't be the consumer. That $7 million Verizon would have to pay would just come out of their future rates.

  • Ummh yah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by red5 (51324) <gired5&gmail,com> on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:17PM (#3745238) Homepage Journal
    The question now is, will anyone try to.

    Uh yah,

    What, you think the judge was bored one day and decided to open this up?
    This decision is the fruit of legal action brought forth by the very people who will be suing.
    • Yeah, and the first person to try it will be squashed like a bug by the virtually unending financial supply these companies can through at a legal problem. Whereas the little guy with a cap to his resources will have to eventually give up and declare bankruptcy after throwing his life's saving at a hopeless venture.
      • Damn straight. In the late 90s, I was a telecom attorney and represented one of the long distance carriers trying to provide local service under the 1996 Telecommunications Act competing against the old Bell Atlantic. At the time, these were deep pockets (pretty shallow these days, huh Bernie?), but Bell Atlantic fought absolutely everything to the death. In the end, it just wasn't worth it, and prospects for local competition died a painful death. I can't imagine a class action for consumers handled on contingency as a successful endeavor. An antitrust case by state AGs maybe, but not by consumers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:18PM (#3745246)
    Have you noticed that through out recent years a darker force has risen from the clouds of the baby bells and engulfed the powers that feed your phone lines? Verizon which was nothing a few years ago, controlls almost all phone lines now, not only that, they have given full control to the bigger-powers-that-be to record and monitor all your phone conversations (btw they get paid for this -- so you do live in a free country and you are paying them to record you talking with friends and family -- and it's for your own safty).

    Verizon is evil and vile, it would bring a stangation to American land lines .. the like of which we've not seen since the days of ATT monopoly (Then again that might be a good thing (tm). But the issue here I point out is the fact tht Verizon also controls DSL lines. They are the *ONLY* reason why DSL is not deployed in mass here in the US. They are the only ones milking every single mom&pop DSL provider by imposing unwanted tarrifs on the use of their lines.

    Verizon is also after your money. They have been raising phone rates constatly for the past 2 years at the rate of 0.2 cents per month. Please collect all your bills and do the math. This means eventually they'd be charing you a lot more than what you were playing with non-verizon.

    Verizon needs to be dismantled. This would be good for you, for the DSL ppl, for the Internet providers and phone sex in general. Please lobby against this vile corporation. They are akin to Microsoft and Clearchannel (story for another day).

    Lord Ranamaari
    • At least for some people in Verizon's territory, there can be alternatives. If I wanted to, I could disconnect my landline phone, use Comcast for Internet access and get a cell phone from Cingular with good reception in my area. Hopefully as cable modems become more widespread, it may become more possible for (at least) residential customers who use dialup to dump Verizon for landline phones and use some kind of cellular alternative.

      As I've said before, the only way Verizon is gonna improve service (and aside from their lack of DSL support, its pretty good), is if people start patronizing companies which can provide equivalent products and services.

  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by meringuoid (568297)
    Does this mean that when they finally split Microsoft up, we can then sue the component parts for antitrust violations, too? And then sue the bits of them? Whoopee!

    Anyone fancy a game of Microsoft Pang [crazybone.com]?
  • by gwayne (306174) on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:19PM (#3745254)
    held liable for lying to customers about how much their services really cost. Phone companies disgust me, and every single one I have dealt with over the past 8 years as lied through their teeth. Ever wonder why basic phone service costs you $40/month when they advertise $15? Or when they promise you 10 cents/min for a low $5 monthly fee, but when you get the bill you see that 10 cents only applies to interstate calls. So not only did you get screwed out of $5, you also get charged 25 cents a minute to call your mother...
    • How about their little shell game with caller ID and related tech?

      First, it's we'll sell you caller ID. Then they sell the spammers an anonymous account. Then, they sell you a feature to block anonymous callers. Then they sell the spammers a feature to get through to people that block anonymous callers.

      It's a frickin racket. This is what the MOB does.
      Pay us some money and we'll protect you from spammers. Oh, the protection isn't working? Pay us some more money.
      • How about their little shell game with caller ID and related tech?

        Not to mention providing you with caller ID data costs them NOTHING!, yet they still somehow figure out how to charge for it (their only possible costs are probably processing the bills for the service).

      • You need the TeleZapper [telezapper.com]!! Does anyone here own a TeleZapper? Does this thing actually work? I can imagine the telemarketing companies devising a counter-attack soon..

        The TeleZapper uses the technology of telemarketers' automatic dialing equipment against them. When you or your answering machine picks up a call, the TeleZapper emits a special tone that "fools" the computer into thinking your number is disconnected. Instead of connecting you to a salesperson, the computer stores your number as diconnected in it's database. Over time, as your number is removed from more and more databases, you'll see a dramatic decrease in the number of annoying telemarketing calls you receive.


        • Yeah, they work great, until your kids school makes an automated call about his/her attendance or about an early closing. You get booted off of thier call list too.

          The Unit cannot distinguish between legeitamate calls and phone spammers....


          • I don't like computers calling me. A few years ago, I kept getting fax-like computer calls at 4:00 AM. After a few weeks of my complaining, the phone company finally tracked down the problem. Apparently, a computer at the Washington DC Center for Aging had confused my phone number with one of its servers. Eventually the problem was fixed.
            • My friend accidentally had his number listed in the AOL software as an AOL dialup number in our town once. Every 20 minutes or so the phone would ring with SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-EWWWWWWWW
      • I'm pretty sure they don't "sell the spammers an anonymous account." The way the telemarketters work is they are large enough (big call centers) that they have their own system. Caller Id information is generated by the system of origin. For you, it's your local phone company. But for a big call center, they are the local phone company. So, they decide what information to give out. If any at all. Or, they can lie.

        The local university decided to set up their own phone system. Now, every single call that comes out of there looks like it comes from the same number.

        For once, this really isn't something for which to blame the phone companies. It's just the nature of how phone companies (and people who are acting like phone compies) interact.
        • The way the telemarketters work is they are large enough (big call centers) that they have their own system. Caller Id information is generated by the system of origin.

          You mean I can get my own PRI and forge the calling number ID information elements? And my PRI vendor won't bother to validate the call setup information elements? COOL!
    • by swb (14022)
      OK, I realize I'm (kind of) defending the phone company, but often what's broken isn't the phone company rates but the tarrif structure and process regulators setup.

      The first time I asked for a copy of my office's phone account info from the phone company -- several POTS lines, a couple of ISDN BRIs, an ISDN PRI and five DSS trunks -- I expected a page or two detailing the billing for the lines and maybe a page or two for some extras (DID blocks, etc). Naive me, I got what amounted to over *50* pages of billing information, often for each trunk member there were multiple entries for small charges of around $.50 each. I discovered why our phone system maintenance vendor employs a full-time ex-Qwest employee to decipher these things.

      Anyway, the telcos deserve a rap on the knuckles for advertising just their tarrif rates, when they know that's not what people are going to be writing checks for. But the regulators and regulatory processes *also* deserve a (bigger) rap on the knuckles for making telephone billing so overly complicated; many of the charges on a phone bill are multi-layer (fed, state, local) taxes and fees.

      It also doesn't help that what most non-rural customers pay for phone services isn't what it costs to deliver those services; cross-subsidies between service types further complicate simple pricing. Again thank the regulators.

      It'd be nice if one day you could order telecomms services that had a price that you actually paid and could understand instead of a sea of regulutory nonsense.
      • I feel your pain. A similar request by my company (an ISP) resulted in two honkin' binders from Qwest. The contents have that dreaded "belched out by a COBOL program" look to them. Yikes!
    • Rolling your own DSL over a dry copper line for $45 a month

      The awakening of the Internet happened for many reasons, but one of the more significant reasons was because it provided tens of thousands of entrepenuers the opportunity to start thier own ISP. Small ISP's began to crop up everywhere, especially where larger providers wouldn't provide service.

      Doesn't DSL have to connect to the main switch to work?

      Or does it??? Roll your own DSL [pbs.org]

      I read this article one year ago and I was shocked. Cringely had explained that DSL doesn't need to go through the Baby Bells to work. As a matter of fact, the types of lines to make this possible have been available for years. They're called dry-copper lines and they're used by alarm companies monitor security systems, but they could also be used for DSL.

      The difference between dry copper lines and regular phone lines is that dry copper lines never connect to the switch, but that doesn't matter for DSL. It's like P2P phone service, but with one line going from you home directly to your neighbors.

      If only the Baby Bells would sell dry copper lines

      By law the Baby Bells are required to specific services at specific prices, primarily because they are entrusted with the public's communicatiosn infrastructure. The truth is: Most baby bells will sell you a dry copper line for about $15-$45 a month. They may lie to you and say it doesn't exists, but even if you get it, it doesn't mean it will work. All they are required to do is sell you a dry copper line that completes a circuit. There's nothing preventing them from selling you a noisy dry copper line, which is especially bad for DSL.

      What would have happened if the Baby Bells were required to sell clear dry copper lines?

      My guess is as good as yours, but I know if I was an ISP. I would have been out there hawking cheap DSL in areas the Baby Bells were ignoring. I wonder how many people would have been doing the same thing? Would broadband have been a little more ubiquitous by now?

    • Are you one of those foreigners who have a hard time reading numbers on dollar bills?

      Ever wonder why basic phone service costs you $40/month when they advertise $15?

      Ask your local congressperson. The remaining $25 in charges is usually taxes.

      Or when they promise you 10 cents/min for a low $5 monthly fee, but when you get the bill you see that 10 cents only applies to interstate calls. So not only did you get screwed out of $5, you also get charged 25 cents a minute to call your mother...

      Firstly, that's the non-monopoly long-distance provider you chose, not your monopoly local telephone company. Secondly, it's not that hard. Separate rates apply to interstate calls, intrastate calls and local long distance. Make sure you check the rates you're getting on each. I've never had any trouble here. Don't blame the phone company for you not doing the due diligence to realize that the interstate rate doesn't apply to local calls.
      • Actually, the phone company is screwing you. I was watching one of those new magazine shows on tv and they were iterviewing people who regulate the phone companies. There's a tax that's about 6.9% of all a phone companies consumer revenue that is used to provide connections for rural area's and schools, etc... Point #1, there is nothing in the bill that requires the phone companies to pass this on to the consumer, it's a tax on them, this isn't a great point, because it's (somewhat) understandable for them to recoup their costs. Point #2, if you check your bill, you'll probably notice that the phone company is actually charging around 9-10% for this tax? hmmmmmmmm, very strange
  • Triple Damages (Score:1, Interesting)

    by denttford (579202)
    I suspect individual consumers are going to have trouble proving this on their own. Hence, class action suits, therfore lawyers recieve the principal benefit from this ruling. Consumers, should Bell not manage to have this struck down, might see a change in future practices, but who are we kidding?

    Well, maybe I'll get a check for $9 or something in the future... though more likely, free caller ID or something else not of the green paper variety.
    • Re:Triple Damages (Score:3, Informative)

      by alexmogil (442209)
      Is this one of those cases where we get a form letter that says we are part of the multi-party class action lawsuit... JUST SIGN HERE!

      I've been involved in only one of those, and I got a nice, shiny five dollar check for my efforts. The class action suit I was involved in invloved a company hiking finance charges. I was overcharged financing on an item to the tune of $150. $5 is less than $150.

      So, are these lawsuits meant as compensation to the consumer, a conduit for a lawyer's SUV fund, or as punishment to the defendant?

      • Re:Triple Damages (Score:4, Insightful)

        by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Friday June 21, 2002 @04:01PM (#3745490) Homepage
        So, are these lawsuits meant as compensation to the consumer, a conduit for a lawyer's SUV fund, or as punishment to the defendant?

        Yes...

        In reality, it's supposed to be the first and last. However, even lawyers deserve to be paid something. So all you're doing is arguing over the fee.

        On one hand, $5 IS significantly smaller than $150. On the other hand, without the lawyer and his quick thinking you would have had $0 and the company would have seen NO consequences. All-in-all, I'd say you got a pretty good payday for filling out a form and mailing it in.

        • Also not that if you got triple damages, and legal fees were the same, you'd get 150*3-145 = $305 in said case. Of course, you'd probably get more like $150*3 - $145*3 = $15, but hey, you're still just sending in a form.
          • These cases are always handled on a contingency fee basis, so the lawyer gets a percentage of the award, so the second example is right. In consumer class actions, that's often why you see settlements for coupons. The settlement provides the lawyer cash, but all the plaintiffs get are coupons that the defendant knows will probably never be redeemed.
      • Meant? The first one and the last one. In practice? The last two. You sue for damages, the layer(s) take most of the willings, the sued company finds themselves out lots of cash. You get a $5 check.

        If you can *prove* that the defendant in a civil case acted with malice (i.e. was intentionally illegally screwing you over), you can sue for damages *and* fees, in which case it would be all three. Proving that a corporation was trying to act illegally is neigh impossible, though.
      • Re:Triple Damages (Score:2, Interesting)

        by splink splink (203531)
        I'm often reminded that behind every sleezebag lawyer there is a sleezebag client. While that's true in many court cases, it is not the case with class action suits. From what I've read you're given the choice of participating or waiving your rights to sue. It doesn's seem like much of a choice to me.

        I'm convinced they're a conduit for passing money to lawyers while eliminating the public's ability to recover actual damages. Here are some examples:

        I was involved in a suit against B of A in California. They were overcharging on something for home loans. While I have no idea how much the total settlement was for, I still have my check for $0.23. (yes, 23 cents)

        I just got my check for NFL Sunday ticket's suit resolution. It seems two bar owners sued because they coulen't get single games - just the season package. I think the settlement was just under $3.5 million. The lawyers got a third, the two bar owners got $1,000 each (this is not a typo), and I received $32 and change although I have yet to realize that I was injured.

        In some cases you don't get anything. I think Sears settled with a service lawsuit (again in CA) years ago where the lawyers got serious cash and everyone else got discount coupons on future Sears work. Let's see, they screwed me that last time they worked on my car. I'll feel better when they screw me this time at a discount!

        There are numerous examples of class action suits putting good companies with good products out of business (think Silicon breast implants). No proof that there's any abnormal danger but the lawsuits have killed and industry and prevented good products from coming to market.

        While there is limited good from these types of lawsuits (asbestos comes to mind) one questions if there isn't a better way. Most of these lawsuits border on the frivolous and the injured parties, if they are in fact even injured as in my two examples, get next to nothing. But with lawyers as the prime beneficiaries and lawyers as the primary law makers, I don't see this changing during my life time.
        • The asbestos lawsuits have caused me personal harm. Peter Angelos [monkeycube.com] made millions from the asbestos cases, which enabled him to buy the Baltimore Orioles [mlb.com]. Because he thinks it might cause him to lose a couple of bucks, he is the sole reason the Expos [mlb.com] haven't been allowed to move to my hometown [go.com].
        • I have been thinking exactly this for some time. It's so ridiculous and frustrating. There ought to be a better way.

          What can we consumers do? File a class action suit against these lawyers? Then we'd probably have to sue those lawyers, and so on, until we had mountains of $0.15 checks, and lots of lawyers who had made themselves plaques on the wall to brag about all the money they had sucked out of the system. It's ridiculous.

          I like Bill Shakespeare's words: "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
  • This only affects CONSUMERS -- not corporations. Unless we're dealing with a class action lawsuit, this wont come to all that much.
    Furthermore, if it comes to it, watch how fast most Baby Bells will spin off divisions to shield the profits.
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:21PM (#3745271) Journal
    I tried to call some lawyers involved in a class-action anti-trust law suit against the phone company, but their phone was disconnected....

    Seems it was all just smoke and mirrors....

  • What would you gain from it?

    I mean, seriously. MS has been on trial for so long now I barely remember when it started. IBM has been tried at least once, and I doubt that the Baby Bells will do any worse than those two.

    Let's save our legal money for things like national ID cards, and people who wear hushpuppies.

    (Well, I was just kidding about the hushpuppies)

    (I think. . .)

    -WS

    • Bell Telephone was also charged with anti-trust action, and they lost. This is where the baby bells came from. Bell was broken up.

      So the Baby Bells should know about and fear anti-trust consequinces better than most other companies. It is where they were born.

      • Yes, but that was some time ago, in a very clearly-defined case. I think things are a bit more hazy now, and I suspect this will be a very long-running suit if it goes forward.

        Also, let's not under-estimate the public attention span. If a case like this gets on the "RADAR" then it may become something. Otherwise, it will probably just fade away and provide a bunch of lawyers with pensions.

        -WS

  • We here at Flame Entertainment [dnsart.com] are ashamed that Baby Smells would ever do such a thing. After forcing us out of the teddy bear and wireless ultra super mega long range no roaming can you hear me know cordless unphreakable phone business, they threatened to murder our mascot if we didn't give into their demands.

    We are making a demand. $20 payable in 2000 installments of $0.01 apiece over a period of 2000 years, or we join the lawsuit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:31PM (#3745322)
    In my area, SBC will shut you down fast if they find that
    you're running your own DSL connection on a dry-copper
    pair (they don't like the fact that you're getting 1.5-2+ Mbs
    and only paying about $20 per month).

    I wonder if this decision (if it stands) will allow us to pursue
    legal action against the Baby Bells? If it did, and the Bells
    allowed Homebrew DSL, you'd see the fastest rollout of broadband ever!

    Anyone up for a class action suit here?
    • I'm not familiar with this scenario, but it sounds like they think you are stealing services. Your second paragraph leads me to believe that DSL is, in fact, not (officially?) available to you. This sounds sort of like using a cable decoder when the cable company refuses to admit that your area can get cable. Is this sort of what you're describing?

      If so, then I don't think you have much chance of defending your actions, but I'd think the judge would be pretty annoyed with the telephone company.... maybe even force them to roll out broadband.
  • by The_Shadows (255371) <<thelureofshadows> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:36PM (#3745359) Homepage
    Damn! I'm fine with my local, but I really want to sue Verizon.

    Not for their service or anything like that. I just hate the "Can you hear me now? Good," guy.
    • Yeah,
      He needs a good 'ol cockpunching Jarad (subway) style.
    • All I can think of when I see that commercial is "Yep, that's EXACTLY what I find myself saying in every mobile call I make".

      Seriously. When I first saw that commercial, I thought they were making fun of themselves and their crappy service. Then I realized they were serious.

      I still don't get it.
        • Seriously. When I first saw that commercial, I thought they were making fun of themselves and their crappy service. Then I realized they were serious.

          I still don't get it.

        The guy is supposed to be a Verizon employee testing to make sure that the coverage is Universal.

        Really Brain Dead... Like, they would test coverage with two guys on Cell Phones saying "Can you hear me now" "yep" "good".

  • Considering..... (Score:3, Informative)

    by friedmud (512466) on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:37PM (#3745365)
    That it took 3 weeks for SBC to install a simple "run-of-the-mill" phoneline in my apartment (hell - it was already installed - all they had to do was turn it on!) - I could see suing them.

    We went 3 weeks without any way to contact emergency services whatsoever! That is piss poor.

    And the only reason they can get away with it is that they have a monopoly in our area - so what the fuck are we supposed to do about it?

    $0.02

    Derek
    • That it took 3 weeks for SBC to install a simple "run-of-the-mill" phoneline in my apartment (hell - it was already installed - all they had to do was turn it on!) - I could see suing them.

      and guess how many *minutes* it'll take them to disconnect your line?-i think it took qwest about 15 minutes when we disconnected & both got mobile phones: *call qwest* "i'd like to have my phone disconnected." "when would you like it disconnected?" "ASAP you commie bastards." "we'll have it disconnected by 5:00p" *look at watch 4:46* "uh... ok then."

      we also waited over 2 weeks to get "hooked up"
      we also waited 3 years for DSL (and moved 3 times) before getting a cablemodem...

      -tid242

    • When my girlfriend tried to get a phoneline to her new apartment, where the phone lines already existed, it took 6 months of going back and forth with Ameritech/SBC. Everytime we would call they would say that her drivers license was invalid. Eventually we had to fax them her social security card and drivers license. They still denied her because they said her social security card "looked fake". After faxing her cards a 3rd time, they finally said they would activate her line IF she put a $125 deposit down. Completely ridiculous. If there is going to be a class action lawsuit I hope info gets posted on /. because I want in. If you think thats bad, google for "ameritech complaints" or "sbc complaints" and read some of the other experiences people have had. It seems like everyone has a phone company horrror story and it shouldn't be that way.
  • by Lysander Luddite (64349) on Friday June 21, 2002 @03:49PM (#3745425)
    Which will cause Qwest to declare bancruptcy first:

    poor management or lawsuits?

    My money is on management. Lawsuits take forever to have an impact.
  • I can't imagine anyone would. We live in a country free of frivolous lawsuits, don't we?

    In other news, I am a complete retard.

    Brandon
    LostBrain [lostbrain.com]
  • Time to sue Qwest
    Which was US West
    It's not the best
    And already messed

    We need a breakup
    We need a real firm
    Not just a joke that
    Is looted by it's execs

    Qwest Qwest Qwest Qwest
    [voices fade over hill]
    Qwest Qwest Qwest Qwest
    [voices fade beneath ground, as the Open Source Gnomes go back to work]

    -
  • I do. And then these hot shots gave all the politicians money and promised that deregulation would ... get this ... increase competition, increase service, and lower prices.

    According to my count we have:
    less competition
    less service
    and higher prices.

    Wish al-Qaeda would attack a convention of the politicians and lobbyists who sold us down the river on that one ...
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Friday June 21, 2002 @04:02PM (#3745499) Homepage
    The Baby Bells have nothing to fear. As Microsoft has demonstrated, even the mightiest case (such as the Clinton DOJ had) can be reduced to nothing by delaying tactics and tons of cash.

    And the current DOJ has a philosophical bent against antitrust laws. The top boys don't believe in those laws. And as the past year demonstrated, even with a case already won, they will let it peter out without comment. Oh, who are we kidding, it was Bush's decision.

    There is no chance that the current DOJ will prosecute antitrust cases. They have other priorities, such as medical-marijuana laws and tapping the Internet. This is not a troll, simply the truth. The Bush admin will not fight monopolies because it doesn't believe they should be regulated.

    And as for the courts, eventually the politically canny people in the White House will break the logjam on the hyperconservative, Chicago School federal judge appointments, and even if a future administration cares to pursue an antitrust case, it will face a solid wall of Reagan/Bush/Bush II appointees who will shoot them down with glee.

    As for greedy lawyers in private cases, I just don't get it. If the Feds can't or won't, and no private individual could possibly hope to confront billions of dollars worth of legal opposition, what other possibility for redress of monopolistic practices would be left if the private lawyers weren't trying to profit from class action suits? If you hate lawyers more than the utterly powerful corporations (who are nothing more than lawyers themselves, don't forget!), then who the hell can stop the juggernaut? Let the lawyers make their millions if our executive, legislative, and judicial branches are philosophically incapable of doing their jobs to protect the citizens of the U.S. from out-of-control corporate lords.
    • What a load of utter and complete crap.

      Seriously, point by point:

      As Microsoft has demonstrated, even the mightiest case (such as the Clinton DOJ had) can be reduced to nothing by delaying tactics and tons of cash.
      Okay, let's assume that the case on its facts was mighty. Lets assume that - even though I dont find it to be particulary true in this case. An appeals court essentially laughed, and I mean laughed, at the idea of a Microsoft breakup. They essentially said that the breakup order was completely out of line with the facts. That's a very important item to understand. After a breakup is ruled out, what exactly are the possibilities for punishment for MS. They are (a) a fine, or (b) conduct remedies. Those are the choices the DOJ had to work with. Breakup was out. So, what do you do? Push for a fine? Hmm.. doesn't seem to be an effictive idea against a very weathly corporation. No possible fine would immpact them enough to make a dent. Also, it would serve to raise prices for all businesses who depend on MS. Not very good for consumers. Alternatively, they could push for conduct remedies. We all know MS won't follow them to the spirit. We know that. It simply won't happen.

      So at this point is seems clear what the solution is. Work with MS to get to an agreement they might probably follow for a while. Use the future violations against them for try #2 at a breakup. And this is where the case is today.

      even with a case already won
      This is a common misconception. All they had was a conviction, and that by a apparently biased judge. The appeals court vacated the teeth of that argument. Now there is a new judge. The DOJ won only in so far as they got a conviction on the technical issues of law and fact; they DID NOT win on the sentencing end. The DOJ LOST BIGTIME in that area. BIGTIME. REALLY REALLY BIGTIME. Thats a very important point. Though they might seem to have won from a causual glance, the appeals court ruling was so strongly worded against the remote possibility of a breakup order being enforced that they then began negotiating from a position of weakness, not strength.

      Oh, who are we kidding, it was Bush's decision.
      Clearly, it was. He campaigned on this issue. He was asked point blank if he would seek a settlement with Microsoft, and his answer was "Yes, I will". Gore caimpaigned, actually at the Microsoft campuse (that takes a pair!) that they should be broken up for the good of the country. Opps. It is no secret that the Republican party is interested in supporting businesses large and small.

      There is no chance that the current DOJ will prosecute antitrust cases.
      Untrue, and inflammatory. The DOJ currently has numerous investigations that have been continued or started since Bush was elected. In fact, there is going to be an anti-trust trial against the members of the RIAA in my home town starting in a few months. A cursory search on the DOJs website shows a whole big pile of antitrust activities [usdoj.gov] since Bush took office.

      The Bush admin will not fight monopolies because it doesn't believe they should be regulated.
      Simply and utterly untrue. Not true. Again, see the previous link. They are heavily involved in regulation of monopolies.

      And as for the courts, eventually the politically canny people in the White House will break the logjam on the hyperconservative, Chicago School federal judge appointments, and even if a future administration cares to pursue an antitrust case, it will face a solid wall of Reagan/Bush/Bush II appointees who will shoot them down with glee.

      This is again spreading of lies and FUD. Pop Quiz - who appointed Judge Jackson? Ronald Reagan. Pop Quiz, who appointed Judge Greene (AT&T Trial Judge, Large Anti-Trust Case In History) - Richard Nixon. Who appoint Judge Judge Kollar-Kotelly to the Federal Bench? Ronald Regan. Who prompted her twice to higher courts? George W. Bush. Seeing a pattern here yet? I tell you what, find me some sample cases that Reagan/Bush/Nixon/Bush II judges have shot down. I couldn't find ANY. None. Who was presiding over the country during the period of the largest and most wide-ranging corporate mergers in history? It wasn't any president I've listed so far - think long and hard. I'll give you a hint. Begins with a "C", ends with a "N".

      greedy lawyers in private cases, I just don't get it. If the Feds can't or won't, and no private individual could possibly hope to confront billions of dollars worth of legal opposition, what other possibility for redress of monopolistic practices would be left if the private lawyers weren't trying to profit from class action suits?
      Profit is the single greatest motivation known to man. It can do almost anything, and achieve almost any end. It can be used for good or for evil. If its used for good you should applaud, not whine.

      Let the lawyers make their millions if our executive, legislative, and judicial branches are philosophically incapable of doing their jobs to protect the citizens of the U.S. from out-of-control corporate lords.
      Ironic, then, considering this is a ruling, by the judical branch, which will open a flood of lawsuits against the "corporate juggernaut". If this doesn't count as "doing their jobs", then probably nothing will in your book.


      You can spout off all the rosy rhetoric you want, all the anti-corporate crap, and the anti-Bush crap you want. I am certainly not going to argue for Bush, larger corporations, or anything of that nature. However, your claims do not stand up to rudimentary factual analyis. Four facts:

      1. The DOJ was in a bad position before the Bush administration got its hands on this case.
      2. Bush had already promised as a campaign issue to end the trial as soon possible and with favor to MS. 49% of the votes still went his way despite this clear prouncement (lesson: vote, it matters)
      3. This one situation is not indicitive of the overall comittment to Antitrust matters by either the DOJ or the Bush Administration.
      4. The judicial appointments of the Republican party over the last 80 years are very commendable. It shows a fundamental respect for the law and for the tennents of restrained judicial action within the bounds of the law.


      Please spout your lies and mistruths elsewhere, thank you.
      • Why not fine MS? Why not try individuals (and their bosses, etc) for perjury? These are things that would be done to any other company that broke the law blatantly and lied about it in court.

        I'm sick of this shit about how MS can't be punished because so many people are financially dependent on them. Tough. You invested in it without regard for how it was being run, you deserve to take a bath.

        And when it comes to setting conduct penalties... Why should this be hard to enforce? The minute there's a complaint, investigate. When it's clear they've broken that restriction, toss execs in jail for contempt. Just 90 days would do. And fine them all their profits related to the action, times three as is a common punative damage.

        What is really so hard about that?
        • Why not fine MS? Why not try individuals (and their bosses, etc) for perjury? These are things that would be done to any other company that broke the law blatantly and lied about it in court.

          You are wrong. Please, find my three instances where CEOs where fined for perjury? Please, find it. You said any other company that did this would be tried for perjury. You cant find any. I'll save you the trouble. Perjury is *extremely* hard to prove. It takes not only hard proof of extensive lying, but also proof of intent. Its extremely hard to get a conviction - extremely. Last year, in the entire country, less than *50* perjury cases came to trial (on the federal level).

          Okay, so lets talk about a fine. Go ahead, fine them, really. The only thing you are going to do is hurt the millions who buy MS software. Whats an appropriate fine? A billion dollar fine would be amoung the largest fines in the history of the country. So lets say it was a $50 Billion dollar fine. Okay. Let's go with that - the largest fine by many times over. Fine. It hasn't changed *anything*. Nothing. Zero. Microsoft still owns a good portion of the software market. Microsoft still has control of many segments. And whats this? Every copy of Windows just doubled in price? Yah! That's great! All that happens is that the government gets some money. And everyone else except Microsoft loses. Great.

          I am not talking about stock holders. I agree about them - you buy in you buy in for the whole ride. I am talking about everyone here and the world over.

          Okay, so lets go onto conduct penalities. Great. Okay, lets get into it. (they are going to go conduct penalties, this is much more than an academic debate).

          The minute there's a complaint, investigate.
          Okay, there will be literally thousands of complaints, you know. If not tens of thousands. Anytime an API changes and someone else is damaged, there will be a filing. Who investigates thousands of complaintants? If MS decides to eliminate an API, or end support for an old one, or merge two together, or add a new one, thats a potential expansion of prohibited middleware. Everyone will have to go through abritration or a court. There will be thousands upon thousands of them, serveral a day, for years and years.

          Second, you fantasy about tossing exec's in jail? It will never happen. Really. There is no basis in law for it. None. ZERO. ZILCH. Find me some cases where executives were tossed in jail for contempt. I will save the trouble - there are none. NONE.

          Third, fine. Lets take your formula for three times profits for punishment. Lets say this was around when MS was fighting Netscape for the browser. Let's say that. Okay, fine. Netscape was bought for like $50 million. They were worth like $250 million or something close to that at there peak. Lets just say they were worth $1Billion. MS squashes them. Okay. The maximum fine you could push on them would be about $3billion. Absolute chump change. Miniscule. And Netscape is *still* out of business. And MS just raises prices to recover the fine. Opps. Great. Congratulations. Once again you've accomplished NOTHING. NOTHING at all. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING except harming consumers and enterprises other than MS.

          It's clear you havent thought this through.

          Fines are *useless* against MS. Fines are usless against any "monopoly" (again, not saying I agree with MS's monopoly status, but for this argument, I can go with it). Imagine pre-breakup AT&T being fined $10 billion. Okay, the next day AT&T raises long distance rates 50%. Congratulations, you've just pissed off the entire country. Good luck spinning that.

          Conduct remedies are all great and everything, but when you have thousands of lawyers involved, every possible loophole will be found, exploited, and maximized in MS's favor. Count on it. You will not be able to prove criminal contempt. MS will get away with it. That's the bottom line.
          • There are choices. Let MS raise the fees for Windows, that lets other companies actually stand a chance. Nobody else can afford to nearly give their OS away if they write one, so they go out of business. (Witness BeOS) Microsoft isn't, what's the term, a natural monopoly? As in, where one company owns all the means of production and nobody else could ever compete (like if they owned the oil wells). They're a monopoly in that they exert unfair pressure in other markets by using their OS control. If they couldn't undercut competition in the OS market you might actually see some.

            Also, nobody needs a new OS. If they raised the rates it'd slow sales and they'd actually have to support their current products instead of keeping people on the upgrade cycle. It really wouldn't hurt the economy all that much.

            Hell, Apple has finally made a decent OS, it couldn't be too hard to make a PC version of it. If there was a viable market it'd be worth someone making a spiffy front-end for linux, or bsd, and actually market it.

            And I have seen people tried for perjury. Maybe the US is different from Canada in that, but I think it'd be trivial to prove perjury in the case of the faked video, for instance. You can't accidentaly fake a video.

            And rarely do CEOs get charged, but why is that? It's because they're rich and in many things, above the law. Contempt is easy to prove and many instances of perjury end up with contempt charges instead. Hell, even a week in jail would be a bit of a lesson.

            As for how much to fine them... Don't look at the damage to Netscape, look at the benefit to MS. They now control the browser market. Get a few industry analysts to examine that issue and take the average estimate. After all, they did it to help themselves as much as to hurt the competition, so remove that incentive.

            (It's like Rambus. If they tried to patent things JEDEC members were talking about they not only should lose their patents on that, but should also lose their patents on RDRAM which is what they really intended to profit from because of their illegal dealings.)

            If it puts them out of business, tough. Sucks to be caught. It's this pansy-ass "we can't punish them, it'd be ineffective and a bit painful to us" mentality that encourages them to do it. Why will any company now ever bother following the law when they have proof that it'll be ignored?

            It will hurt to properly punish them, but every dollar they don't make through OS sales, someone else will. There is a demand for PCs, it won't dry up overnight. MS doesn't control the creation of PCs so they'll still get made and still get bought...
            • And I have seen people tried for perjury. Maybe the US is different from Canada in that, but I think it'd be trivial to prove perjury in the case of the faked video, for instance. You can't accidentaly fake a video.

              You have to prove intent. Understand that? Intent. You have to prove a conspiracy to fake the tape. Holding the tape and going "its fake" isn't proof. You need corroboration. Of course you will NEVER get any. Hence, no conviction.

              And rarely do CEOs get charged, but why is that? It's because they're rich and in many things, above the law. Contempt is easy to prove and many instances of perjury end up with contempt charges instead. Hell, even a week in jail would be a bit of a lesson.
              No, its that they are rich. Its that they are on top of legal issues. With no evidence, there is no case, no trial. It doesnt matter if everyone knows you did it, there must be proof; legally admissable evidence. Contempt is not easy to prove; its simply not. If you say that it is - well - you've been watching too much TV.

              As for how much to fine them... Don't look at the damage to Netscape, look at the benefit to MS. They now control the browser market. Get a few industry analysts to examine that issue and take the average estimate. After all, they did it to help themselves as much as to hurt the competition, so remove that incentive.
              Again, fantasy. The base value of a fine couldn't be higher than the value of the entire market. You couldn't fine a telephone company 20 times the entire value of the telecommunications industry. Damages must be based in reality. Three times is typical. Even at three times the entire size of the browser market (read: Netscape) at its peak, MS would still be unhurt.

              Really, believe me. The issue of fining MS came and went. It was considered and dismissed. Fining a monopoly isn't going to work. Its really not. The result will be (a) higher prices for consumers and (b) even less competition.

              Finally, I am not saying they shouldn't be punished. But you, as in everyone here on slashdot, has to understand. Microsoft didn't lose the trial. THEY WON. The DOJ LOST THE CRUCIAL PART OF THE CASE. The DOJ was bargaining from day #1 with the threat of breakup over MS's head. That was tossed out viciously in court. Tossed out. Done. Finished. MS called the DOJs bluff, and the DOJ lost. MS knew that the remaining remedies that are possible under the law are useless in the long run. Anything that the new judge can throw at MS will be absorbed and worked around, no matter what they are. MS knew this. The DOJ lost. The States have lost (even though they won't admit it now).

              So, one final time, for the record. The case was settled because the DOJ lost, and lost big time. MS removed the spectre of breakup, and therefore, the DOJ was over a barrel. The other remedies, which will be decided on fairly soon, will be applied and MS will remain 99% unchanged. MS knew this, and gambled with the appeals court. They won.

              They may have been not gotten the conviction turned, but they did the next best thing which was getting the only viable long-term punishment off the table.
              • Fining a monopoly doesn't mean higher prices for consumers unless you have a monopoly such that no other alternatives can exist (as in, your company controls all the raw materials required.) In the case of MS, they have a monopoly now but could easily lose it if they couldn't undercut all competitors. Fining them enough to raise their prices would benefit consumers.

                As to the issue of perjury. Simply the fact that evidence was faked is evidence of intent. You can't pin it on the guy who displayed it, and finding the person who did doctor the tape (or order it) is likely to be hard, but this isn't verbal perjury where someone can say they were mistaken - this is the faking of evidence. How do you accidentaly fake a video? It's easily enough for conviction.

                As for contempt, simply trying to pull something and getting caught is often enough. As you say, this isn't TV. On TV lawyers skirt the edges of the law all the time and keep almost getting in trouble for badgering witnesses, etc, etc. In real life they don't push in that way because they know they wouldn't be in the court room for long. Contempt charges are easy and judges know it, it's their stick with which to control people.

                The fines could and should be huge. Company wrecking? Yeah, perhaps. Maybe it'd never happen, but for political reasons, not legal ones.

                Haven't you ever seen how in smaller crimes (ones where people don't donate huge ammounts of campaign contributions) the punishments are set not at a multiple of the damages, but at a multiple of the expected profit. This is designed to remove motive.

                Sure, it won't happen. We all knew from the beginning that nothing would. But that doesn't mean it couldn't, just that everyone has your attitude, it'd be too hard and cost a lot of money so they might as well get away with it...

                Same old story.
                • We have the same conclusion, but the reasons are different. You think nothing will happen because of Microsoft is, basically you are following the "DOJ won" party line. They didn't win. Thats because the only reasonable and possible penalty that would stop MS's tactics is off the table. No fine, no matter the size, is going to curb Microsoft. And your point about them undercutting competitors - its simply untrue. Windows costs more than MacOS X, all flavors of Linux, previous competiton like Be, and future competition like Lindows. Its not about price, that much is clear. The competition is giving away software (read: Linux) and its not seriously impacting Windows sales. Its clearly not about price.

                  And just so you know, you are insanely, incorrectly, and entirely wrong about contempt and purjury. You really ought to research them. Stay away from TV law. Go to an actual courthouse for a few days, and watch the proceedings. Seriously. There is no way that the evidence they have against MS could sustain either (a) a perjury conviction against any specific person or (b) a contempt charge larger than a fine (ie jail time). Like I said, to prove the perjury you need more than the product to prove your prima face case. You must, MUST, prove intent - which means a memo, a phone call, a corroborated statement, or whatnot. Just going into court and saying "they lied, throw the book at them" isn't enough. Not for a perjury conviction, and not for sustainable contempt.

                  And on last time, about the fines. There are laws and court rulings that govern how they are determined. In this case, there is no way the base fine could exceed the entire market value of browsers. The value of that market today is basically zero (or almost zero, take the sales of Opera and other commerical browsers, and thats the total value). The browser today is valued at almost zero. The peak value of that market was when Netscape was its height. No matter what you figure, how you want to cut it, its pretty clear that the maximum base fine would be the sum of all Netscapes sales, further projected out till today, or a date into the future. Nothing is going to change that to a higher number. Yes, standard practice will dictate a 3 or 4 time multiplier. That number will be in the billions. And the bottom line is that *nothing* will come of that fine. There is no legally defensable fine that you could imagine that will significantly impact Microsoft. I have no idea why you refuse to accept this, but I havent seen *anyone* fight so hard to deny it. Think of a number, any number. Microsoft could pay it. And then we'd be right back to where we started.

                  The forthcoming states penalties will probably call for a fine of some sort. Probably. Microsoft will appeal, moan some, and then right a check.

                  You are correct; nothing maor will happen to Microsoft. But that's because they won the crucial part of the case. Just look at the facts; they are right there in front of you.
    • by bnenning (58349) on Friday June 21, 2002 @05:32PM (#3746381)
      They have other priorities, such as medical-marijuana laws and tapping the Internet.


      Who came up with the Clipper Chip and wanted to ban encryption technology? Who oversaw a record number of nonviolent drug users thrown in prison? Hint: not Republicans. Democrats are no better than the GOP when it comes to civil liberties.

      • Insightful my red baboon butt.

        Proving Repubs evil was not my intent. In almost all ways, Clinton was the last great Republican president.

        My intent in mentioning Bush and Ashcroft was not to fan "Democrats are evil" responses. It is to point out that this administration has rabidly gone after civil liberties and the press, based on its own ideology.

        In Afganistan, reporters (well, one) were threatened with being shot if he went to investigate a bombing. Flat out. The hatred of the press is so great that Bush ordered no medevac of injured or dying reporters. In this "War", the reporters have died in their dozens, while we lost ... two soldiers? Leaving reporters to die, and remember, these are American citizens, can be chalked up to nothing more than a iron desire to control criticism and a scorching hatred of a free press. Bush does not like criticism. He also doesn't seem to like checks on his power. He, not Clinton, believes himself to be king.

        As for Ashcroft, the man lost a Congressional race to a DEAD MAN. Let me repeat that -- in the conservative south, he lost to a d-e-a-d m-a-n because the voters thought he was a looney. He sponsored at least three new amendments to the Constitution, the contents of which escape me... point being, the man does NOT like the Constitution in its present form. And frankly, he's religiously nuts, hence his propensity for morality enforcement.

        Do you think the Patriot Act, all those hundred and hundreds of lines, were actually written up in a week? Uh-uh. It was a wish list, by people who wanted a lot of control without liberal civil-liberty mumbo-jumbo to stop them. Bush/Ashcroft took advantage of our national grief to hammer through, without review, an enormously unnecessary and unconstitutional change to our nation. Remember, when they claimed that they needed all those spy powers to gather the information to stop future attacks, they were blocking investigations that would have uncovered the fact that not only was our intelligence capabilty sufficient under current laws, but that the attackers were fingered and alarms were ringing. No Patriot Act or unfettered Duce will help us if the idiots at the top are on vacation for a month when the alarms are ringing.

        Do I think Gore would have done the same? No. Gore would not only have read reports, he was on the panel that warned attacks were coming. Gore would not have been on vacation for the month of August, and frankly, Gore reads more than three pages of information a day. His chances of noticing data and integrating it are far greater than a guy who wants to chat with his advisors and skim Presidential Cliff Notes.

        I was never a Democrat, but I am forced to conclude that we have a nitwit, a power hungry political fratboy with a vicious temper, as an appointed president. Gore was an accomplished man, a scholar and a statesman. Bush is a privileged boob who fucked up 9/11 royally and had the balls to blame it on his predecessor. And then proceeded to use political capital to block investigation for over half a year -- upon which we learned the reason why.
    • As Microsoft has demonstrated, even the mightiest case (such as the Clinton DOJ had) can be reduced to nothing by delaying tactics and tons of cash.

      Or as OJ demonstrated, by using accumulated public goodwill and tons of cash. (I wonder if there's a latent joke in here about not being able to spell "DOJ" without "OJ"?)

  • I will.
    What else am i going to do at work?
  • Isn't that a type of chesse?
  • by BlackGriffen (521856) on Friday June 21, 2002 @04:07PM (#3745522)
    Will this apply outside of the telecom industry? Some of my favorite oranizations, RIAA, MPAA, and M$ could probably all be open to lawsuits if this ruling is as broad as I hope it is.

    BlackGriffen
  • Currently I pay $25 a month to Verizon (Los Angeles), just so I can have a landline that I use only for dialup internet access. (I use cellular for voice). The local cable company provides neither internet access nor voice. $25 for a phone line is a rip, and I have no other alternative.

    I could get DSL, but Verizon REQUIRES you to have voice in order to have DSL. This is outrageous, I have no need for a voice line, but they won't sell you DSL without one. So your bill becomes $25 (voice) + $50 (DSL).

    I hate lawyers as much as the next guy, but if lawsuits help, then so be it. Especially for lower income people, there is no reason the phone company should get 5% of their monthly income, especially when they don't have to compete.

    • the thing that is disgusting is that there are a lot of fees that you can't take off of your bill even though it is only used for dial-up. i know there are monthly charges for interstate long-distance and such, but i would never use that line for long distance. in fact, i don't even want that phone line to even have the ability to make long distance calls... but i pay the fee anyways...
    • Verizon is nothing compared to Ameritech. If you order DSL from anyone other than them in my town you can almost bet your line will be too long. My CO is a driving distance of less than 1 (ONE) mile. When Ameritech ran my line for Speakeasy DSL. It was tested at over >18000 feet. I have no idea how long it would be if Ameritech sold me the DSL. They decided not to roll it out.

      One a side note Verizon and Verizon Wireless are not the same company. At least according to my wife an employee of said wireless. I have wireless service with them and haven't really had any reason to complain.

      Vertical
  • Can Bellsouth leave my DSL on if I cancel my land-line service? I'm paying $32 per month on a line I use maybe twice a month. I'd just as well disconnect it and get a cellphone, but I don't want to lose DSL.

    I know there's legislation preventing cable companies from tying service. How does this apply to telcos? Anyone with Bellsouth have any experience here?
  • Now lets home someone will stick it to them!
  • DSL ISPs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mssymrvn (15684)
    This actually might be a good thing in terms of being able to get an alternate ISP over DSL. As it stands now, the thick-headed a-holes at the FCC think broadband competition is cable vs. DSL. But if I get DSL, I'm most likely stuck with Verizon.net. Though right now I've got Covad/Speakeasy (and they rock), the recent ruling with the FCC means that they can be shut off by Verizon quite quickly if Verizon wants to play that game (and I'm pretty sure they do). So then I'm stuck with crappy ATTBI cable with no alternate ISP or Verizon DSL. Hell, I'd even be willing to pay Verizon some small loop charge (say $30/month) if I could pick my own ISP (with an additional charge). As long as I don't have Verizon's crappy ISP service (which no doubt matches their phone service).

    So I guess what I'm saying is that yes, individuals may very well take this action as a good thing and start suing the RBOCs for opening up their DSL to other ISPs (even if we have to use the RBOCs for just the local loop). This also might be a good thing for those looking to get into opening up cable lines to alternate ISPs.

    It's just a thought (but right now I'm suffering from sleep deprivation, so it might be a dream).
  • Viva the government, he'll sue anyone, except the RIAA
  • Maybe this will help my Covad stock. I'd love to see Cavad haul them into court.

    -Pete
  • If you have problem with your phone carrier (such as a baby bell) giving you poor service, taking a month to install a phone line, etc...There are laws you prolly don't know about that are set by your state's government about how soon the phone company must give you service after you make the request for the service (such as adding a new phone line).

    When you have problems with the phone company, look up in your phone book under the state government listings for the Public Service Commission or the Public Utilities Commission. Call them and then ask for the phone number to their complaints line. Then call the complaints line. You will speak to someone that has and will contact people higher up in the phone company's service and management departments that will get your service requests done PROMPTLY. If you make a request for service and the phone company doesn't provide it within a reasonable amount of time, the PSC or PUC WILL fine the phone company for violating state laws by not providing you service within a reasonable amount of time according to the laws in your state.

    For example, my mom bought a new house. She called the phone company routinely for a month straight. Bellsouth kept saying there were no more available lines in her area and they would have to engineer a solution and get back with her. After putting up with this for a month she finally called the PSC and told them what was going on. The next day she had a working phone line.
  • Who do I call to sue a Baby Bell? I keep getting that "All circuits are busy, please try your call again later" when I try to call a lawyer!
  • Regulated monopoly? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Friday June 21, 2002 @04:57PM (#3746071) Homepage
    Arent the "baby Bells" still considered regulated monopolies? How can they be sued for being in the condition that the federal government left them?
    • No; since the Telecom Act of 1996, they are not granted legal monopolies. But they still have antitrust-law monopoly power, because competition isn't in place yet. And the Telecom Act specifically says that they're supposed to cooperate with competitors in certain ways, in order to undo the old monopoly.

      The lawsuits against the RBOCs are about misbehavior since 1996, under the new rules.
      • Exactly. However, like I said in a previous comment, IAAL, and in my experience the only way the RBOCs cooperated with the CLECs was to line the pockets of the CLECs' lawyers. Not that I'm complaining, personally (although I don't do that anymore - the Telecom Act just got to be too damn frustrating).
  • by jmcnamera (519408) on Friday June 21, 2002 @06:01PM (#3746573) Homepage
    Ok, since we are part of Slashdot we naturally compare this to Microsoft, but it's worse.

    Almost everyone in the US pays for phone service. Strangly, I have more choice for my OS than I do for our phone service. Besides, many people still don't have computers, but they have phones.

    I pay for an MS OS license via a PC seller once (if ever). Since they buy in volume, its maybe 30 bucks.

    I pay more to my phone company each month.

    So, to the question, will anyone bother to sue? I hope so.
  • by dmarx (528279)
    I think this is a Good Thing. Now, instead of relying on the government, consumers can now act as individuals (or more likely as classes, as in "class action) to take down these monopolies themselves. Now if only this applied to every other industry...
  • This is what i've heard of the tarrifs down here in Texas, and i've yet to confirm it: A local ISP is able to sell dialup service for $10/mo. How so you ask? This is what I have been able to find out. They operate a paging business and lease their T1 circuits from SWBell for $150US each trunk per MONTH. Now if someone can confirm this, this means that anyone can open a paging business, process the proper paperwork, they can get 1.5 MB/s both ways on the internet for PEANUTS, in comparison to what we have to fight for doing it by the numbers. I shit you not on this ladies and gents... That is one helluva loophole down here in the Lone Star State.
  • It amazes me that a judge can order big tobacco to pay a smoker $15m for damages related to smoking [yahoo.com], yet people couldn't sue their teleco. Ok, so I'm not so amazed. It's the fucked up patchwork of American laws that simply baffles me sometimes.

    Frankly, it pisses me off that the Telecom Act hasn't forced the powers that be into ONE FLAT FUCKING RATE FOR ALL PHONE CALLS. Local, long distance, Caller ID, Three-Way, Anonymous Block, and the whole slew of features on telephone lines should be included standard. Not $10 here, and $5 there, depending on the feature, and where you are located in the good ol US of A.

    It's 2002 now.

    ISPs can give users UNLIMITED SERVICE for one low monthly fee. Why can't voice calls be the same? Why aren't they now?

    Oh wait, I know why. Greed. You already knew the answer too, I'm sure.

    But guess what kids, the Teleco Act of 1996 [fcc.gov] has helped ruin not only OUR telecommunications, but OUR airwaves. The airwaves don't belong to ClearChannel. They belong to us CITIZENS. That's why the FCC was created, right? To protect and look after the use of OUR electromagnetic spectrum? Yeah. That's precisely why they were founded. Are they following their mandate as of late? NO.

    The FCC should have been the one to be on top of this regional/local teleco monopoly bullshit a long time ago. They broke up AT&T's stranglehold on LD a long time ago, and that did drive prices down. On a local level, however... nothing has changed.

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