The FCC Has the Right Merger Policy
"Is the FCC chief all talk?" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Oct. 25) is blind to the reality of the new marketplace. The writer ignores the dramatic impact of convergence, which is accelerating cross-industry competition and new services.
My job is to make sure no merger creates a conglomerate so large and so dominant that it kills this vibrant restructuring or harms the public interest. At the same time, I must ensure that any merger approved by the Federal Communications Commission will open up markets to competitors, foster innovation, and benefit consumers. Every merger approved during my tenure has included tough conditions to open markets and to keep them open.
In the most recent transaction, the SBC-Ameritech merger agreement included conditions that should dramatically increase competition in local telephone markets and expedite the deployment of high-speed Internet access and other new services to low-income and rural areas. Indeed, SBC has pledged to spend $6 billion to roll out broadband services to 70 million customers in 30 new markets and in a subsidiary structured to promote competition, as required by the FCC.
To be sure, there are mergers that may not be good for consumers and competitors. We will continue to scrutinize these transactions carefully and make sure that competition, not monopolies or duopolies, dominates the telecommunications markets.
FCC policy in reviewing these transactions is the correct policy for a world of new technologies and convergence, where the primary objective is to protect consumer choice. Be assured, we will be vigilant not to allow our hard-fought gains for competition to be lost.
William E. Kennard
WashingtonReturn to top
It's Far Too Soon to Count AT&T Out
We're aware of the challenges AT&T faces, but "AT&T: The problems keep on coming" (Cover Story, Oct. 18) is unduly pessimistic. For example, we are conducting limited trials of our cable telephony service to uncover just the kind of isolated problems you cited. But surveys indicate that customers rate call clarity 9.3 on a scale of 10 and generally rate our service as good or better than the incumbent phone company's.
By the way, the "loud hum" that your reporter cited our customer experiencing had nothing to do with AT&T service. An aging cordless phone caused the problem. And citing problems with cable from the 1980s misses today's reality: Several cable companies in the U.S. and Britain, in addition to AT&T, have proved that the technology works.
Also, while your story grudgingly acknowledges several of AT&T's high-growth businesses, such as wireless, data, and outsourcing, it lapses into inaccuracies. Claiming that a competitor "markets wireless Web browsing that AT&T can't match" is wrong. We've had the same capability on our PocketNet service for three years.
Also, you question the growth of our core long-distance business but miss the fact that we've made it more profitable through steps such as migrating customers to plans that cut costly "churn." Sure, AT&T faces some steep challenges, but so do our competitors. It would be a mistake to count us out in the second inning of a long and complicated game.
Richard J. Martin
Basking Ridge, N.J.Return to top
This City Hall Is Fighting for Workers
For the record, the union members whose photo accompanies "Look for the union label--at IBM?" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Oct. 11) belong to the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE). As delegates to the 64th UE Convention in Burlington, Vt., held Aug. 29-Sept. 2, they participated in a rally celebrating the opening of a Workers' Rights Center. The UE-sponsored center is housed in City Hall, making it probably the first U.S. service of its kind to be hosted by a city government Unorganized workers abused as IBM employees now have a place to direct their complaints and seek assistance. IBM employee John Mendes, a leader of the movement to organize his co-workers at the plant in nearby Essex Junction, Vt., addressed the rally.
Managing EditorUE News
PittsburghReturn to top