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Wednesday
Oct 22nd

Telcom mergers need public scrutiny

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Participating by webcast from Wayne State University in Michigan, Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) pulled no punches at the Oct 21 Insight/KMOJ Public Policy Forum. Participating by webcast from Wayne State University in Michigan, Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) pulled no punches at the Oct 21 Insight/KMOJ Public Policy Forum. He addressed issues in the telecommunications industry, specifically those associated with the Telecom Act of 1996 which was intended to create economic and educational advantages previously omitted from the information superhighway.

In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled Bell Telephone Company (“Ma Bell”), America’s largest monopoly in the biggest anti-trust case the court had ever ruled on. Long distance telephone service was re-instituted as AT&T and local service across the country was splintered into area companies, multi-billion dollar businesses that later repeated the actions of monopolizing the market place. This prompted the Communications Act of 1996 which was designed to provide for, and to stimulate competition from small companies outside the Bell system. This effort was thwarted by Bell conglomerates joining forces to deny small companies access to telephone lines.

“It was pretty clear,” said Conyers via website from Wayne State University, “that they didn’t want anybody else in. They were determined, through their lawyers and legislators, to make sure that’s what happened.” He flatly criticized corporate greed and its influence on Capitol Hill, citing as an example SBC in his own district. “They’re laying off people. Customers are unsatisfied. Their prices go up. Service is rotten. These guys are not sorry at all because they’re enjoying record profits [with] a 40 percent return.”
 

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