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It's Time to Break Up AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and the Rest of the Telecoms

Today's telecoms provide overpriced and inferior service, and are systematically overcharging the hapless American consumer.

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  • There is no serious wireline phone competition -- the cable companies only have 20 percent of the residential phone markets and much less of the business markets.
  • There is no meaningful cable competition -- AT&T's U-Verse and Verizon's FiOS are only in 7 million homes out of 120 million homes; thus, over 90 percent of Americans don't have meaningful cable competition.

Making matters worse, 18 states outlaw municipal competition. The trust has had state legislatures adopt regulations prohibiting localities from upgrading their networks even though these corporations failed to do so after being paid billions.

Unfortunately waiting for the Congress, courts or regulatory agencies (e.g., FCC, FTC) to intervene on behalf of ordinary citizens being overcharged, let alone America's global competitiveness or popular democracy, is like waiting for Samuel Beckett's Godot. We'll wait till hell freezes over.

Like the good-old-days of the trusts, the Gilded Age, politicians are bought and paid for. Unless one puts a fire under their proverbial backsides, one knows that politicians -- along with PR shills, newspaper publishers, think-tank hacks and media blowviators -- cannot be counted on to stand up for what's right. Its time for a new generation of muckrakers to take up the challenge, incite popular rage and, hopefully, fuel political action.

In a series of upcoming articles published on AlterNet, we will critically analyze the hold that the telecom trust exercises over the nation's communications infrastructure, the economy and, thus, American democracy. It's time to recall Reagan's monumental antitrust effort at "deregulation" and, once again, "open the networks" to competition.

Like vampires of legend, today's trusts not only provide over-priced and inferior service, but are sucking dry hapless American consumer by systematically overcharging them. Worst still, their inferior service is turning the U.S. into a second-tier industrial nation. Only a stake in the heart of a vampire will kill it. The call to "break 'em up" is such a steak.

David Rosen is a regular contributor to CounterPunch, Filmmaker Magazine and the Brooklyn Rail; check out Bruce Kushnick is a telecommunications industry analyst who serves as the broadband and telecommunications expert for Harvard Nieman's Foundation for Journalism's Watchdog, and a founding member of Teletruth, a customer advocacy group. He can be reached at

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