The Return of AT&T

It seems that SBC is leaning towards changing it’s name to AT&T. Other options are a new name or Cingular. The latter name probably won’t work as BellSouth is a part owner of the Cingular Wireless name and probably won’t allow it’s business partner to use a name very similar to one it partly owns.

In my opinion AT&T is the best name for the new organization and is the likely choice. This name has international recognition and will help the company more easily sell VoIP services around the world.

Living in Connecticut, I grew up with AT&T, and the regional BOC became Southern New England Telephone (SNET) and then it became SBC through an acquisition. In about 20 years I, we, the US telecom industry has come full circle.

What does this say about the state of telecom in the US? It tells me there is less competition.

Just a few years ago there was going to be a slew of new players in the telecom market. We all expected this to happen. It didn’t.

Many competitive providers such as CLECs and ISPs are now scrambling for ways to compete in this brave new world. VoIP seems to be one of the ways this will happen.

You may argue that VoIP allows more competition, not less. You are correct but we still don’t have more broadband competition which in my opinion we desperately need.

If you are familiar with the now famous Brand X case you know that Brand X Internet was a company fighting to be able to open up cable lines to competition to allow ISPS to provide internet service over cable lines. The Supreme Court struck this notion down and the FCC was empowered via this act to kill DSL-based competition as well.

In an article about the Brand X decision shortly after the verdict, Brand X owner Jim Pickrell told TMCnet. "It’s bad for consumers and it is bad business . . . [Brand X is] effectively locked out . . . It’s an end to competition in broadband and telephone . . . For us it’s a disaster."

Jim has carried the torch for the rest of the competitive industry. He is the one person in the limelight and pushed for more, not less competition in the telecom space.

Don’t get me wrong… The FCC says it is also for competition but they believe that cable companies, LECS, broadband over power line (BPL) providers, satellite and WiMAX-based service providers will provide all the competition we need.

In other words, wiping out a bunch of small CLECs and ISPs is OK in the short run because in the long run we will have a smaller number of more financially stable competitors.

Pundits (including myself at times) will tell you that two competitors don’t make a competitive market and satellite, WiMAX and BPL account for negligible market share.

Getting back to Brand X and Jim Pickrell. As an evangelist for open telecom and continued competition in the CLEC and ISP space, he has no equal. At leas t in my opinion.

We thought Jim Pickrell would be the ideal person to invite to TMC’s Internet Telephony Conference & Expo to educate today’s services providers on how to compete in this brave new world of competitive competition.

Mr. Pickrell will address an audience at the show and also have a press briefing with reporters and analysts where he will discuss how the supreme court ruling has affected his customers.

We will certainly have more information for you as we get closer to the event. Please check out ITEXPO for more details.

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