SBC/AT&T Expert Commentary (Part 4)

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Greg Galitzine

SBC/AT&T Expert Commentary (Part 4)

Martha Buyer is currently Principal, Law Offices of Martha Buyer as well as an officer (vice president) of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants.

She has written numerous articles addressing a variety of legal and regulatory issues affecting telecommunications professionals and decision makers industry wide. Topics included cable, wireless, common carrier and copyright issues, among others. Here is her take on the SBC/AT&T acquisition:

With the added market force of VoIP looking traditional voice providers straight in the eye, the writing is on the wall for those traditional long distance providers. The world, as we've all known it, is going away.

When local telephone competition was considered and incorporated into the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it was assumed that the surviving local exchange carriers would compete with each other by moving into areas where they had traditionally been unable to offer service. What actually happened was that rather than competing with each other, they simply purchased each other, thus eliminating the competition on another front. This week's action between SBC and AT&T may, in fact, open the door for more intense competition between the 4 surviving behemoth local exchange carriers, SBC, Verizon, Qwest and Bell South.

Many years ago when competition was just beginning in the telecommunications industry and I worked for a medium-sized financial institution, the director of technology told me that "as long as everyone has dial tone, nothing else matters." This seemed a myopic view at the time (as it still does), but the fact remains that now the entities that provide the dial tone--or the actual connectivity to government, corporate, and residential customers really have access to the internet and as such, the world.

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