Sunday, September 4, 2011

AT&T Suffers Major Setback in Quest for World Domination

So AT&T got smacked hard on the ass this week.  The Department of Justice filed a suit to stop its merger with T-Mobile.  It's almost enough to make one believe in America again.  Of course, we can't completely assume AT&T won't eventually get away with this obviously anti-competitive absorption of one of its few true competitors.  I'm sure AT&T has lobbyists rushing into smoke filled rooms with suitcases full of cash to try to buy off politicians and regulators.  Heck, it's worked for them well in the past.

Or has it?  Let's enjoy the moment and assume that the lawsuit prevails, as it should under any logical reading of the law.   That means the merger doesn't go through, and the first problem for AT&T's greedy overreach is a huge 6 billion dollar penalty.

This is almost twice what it would have cost AT&T to simply build out its regional service, one of the supposed reasons for the ridiculous $39 billion dollar merger.  For some reason, AT&T decided that it was a great strategy to provide poor national service, with the assumption that politicians and regulators would cave in on anything they asked for in "hopes" that service would improve in the heartland.

The problem is, years of crappy AT&T service, despite tons of approved mergers, extra spectrum and even out and out payments by the US government has put to lie that idea.  No one believes AT&T anymore when it says it will improve service.

And that's why it's so dangerous that AT&T doesn't have a backup plan.  Their plan, since changing their name to AT&T, was to use cash generated by local monopolies to buy national monopolies.  To do this, they ripped off grandma's in local markets that were afraid to turn off their land lines, provided them with outrageously expensive, but crappy service, and then used the cash to, first: enrich their executives, two: buy up politicians, and three: buy up competitors.  Then repeat.

Never, during the entire process, did service improve.  And in fact, the entire shell game probably would have failed if it wasn't for the lucky accident of them having a monopoly on the biggest tech toy of the last decade, the iPhone.  Now that they've lost that, and the momentum of the inevitability of a national duopoly on cell service (between them and Verizon), where do they stand?

On very shaky ground.  Because they have become so hated even the politicians that once backed them are getting nervous about supporting them.  And the politicians that want to smack them on the asses will have proof they can do it.  Proof they can use to get money from other corporations that don't want to see  America with an expensive third world communications system.  Investors will also start to take seriously that there could be real competition in the wireless sector, and that's very bad for AT&T.

Meanwhile, I'm just waiting to activate my Sprint iPhone.

UPDATE:  Here's and interesting piece that goes into some detail about how clueless AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is:


Sunday, August 14, 2011

AT&T Accidentally Leaks Damning Letter

We all know the only reason AT&T is buying T-Mobile is to kill competition and screw over its own customers with higher prices for poor service.  But if you need more proof…

Leaked AT&T Letter Proves T-Mobile Buyout is Wrong

The big problem here is not that AT&T is evil, it's that they're stupid evil.  Amazingly, no matter how many leaked letters come out, no matter how obvious it is that they're lying, odds are the corrupt politicians in Washington will let them have their way and approve the merger.

Oh, well… hopefully the iPhone 5 will save Sprint.  Seems to be our only hope.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Great Video About AT&T Merger

Be sure to click on the link at the end of the video and join the campaign to fight the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.  It's bad for you (if you care about good phone service at a low price), and bad for America.

Monday, March 21, 2011

AT&T Buys Up Competition to Control Market

It's a depressing day for competition in the cell phone business. Evil empire AT&T is going to swallow up its only serious competitor, T-Mobile. T-Mobile has been the only big carrier lowering prices in recent years, as AT&T and Verizon have been raising them. It's unthinkable this can pass by the FCC, but unfortunately, it will. As pointed out in this article, even if AT&T isn't allowed to kill its lower priced competitor, this move will effectively hobble T-Mobile for years.

AT&T to Buy T-Mobile

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tim Wu Talks AT&T

Here is an excellent piece on Tim Wu who wrote "The Master Switch" which I mention frequently on this site.  It's required reading for anyone interested in AT&T's dark history.

Tim Wu Talks About Saving the Internet From Big Corporations

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yes, AT&T is Evil

There are times I worry that I go a little too far attacking AT&T on this blog.  Sure, it's a greedy corporation that doesn't care about its customers and resists innovation.   Sure, its service sucks and it buys influence in Washington to make sure it has no competition.  Sure, it has a terrible history of suppressing technology and ethically questionable business practices.  But it isn't "evil."  I mean, a corporation can't be evil.

But just when I think I've gone too far, AT&T goes out of its way to prove that it is in fact: evil.  Here's the latest news:

So, after sucking up every internet provider they could, after lobbying to expand their monopoly on American internet traffic, AT&T now feels it is ready to do what it has longed to do for a long time.  Kill the internet as we know it.  This is no longer speculation.  It's very clear that AT&T's long term plans are to meter (thus control) all internet traffic, both cell and land based.  This is exactly what people like me have long been saying was going to happen, and now AT&T is announcing it.

I'll be writing more extensively about this for some time, but let's just be clear on the main points:

1. Putting a data cap on land lines is just the first step in creating a "pay per bit" model for the internet.

2. "Pay per bit" completely would change the internet.

3. The only way AT&T can get away with a "pay per bit" model is to have an de-facto monopoly (by concluding with other big American telecoms).   

4. Moving to a "pay per bit" model will hurt America's competitiveness in the world, and is radically dangerous to free speech.

There can be no illusions anymore about AT&T's big plan.  They've been hinting at it by fighting net neutrality.  They've been preparing for it by buying competitors and taking over markets.  And now they are implementing it.  Anyone who is aware of AT&T's history can see what it's coming, and should be scared.  This is our worst nightmare come true.  If we don't actively fight this, AT&T (and its business partners in collusion) will completely dictate what we can access on the internet and for how much.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Collusion Between AT&T and Verizon on Tiered Pricing Invites Class Action Lawsuits

If you live in Hong Kong, you can have superfast gig-a-second broadband for just $26 a month.  If you live in the United States, you're screwed.  America’s leading internet provider, Verizon, doesn't offer anything that fast.  Its fastest service one twentieth as quick and costs a whopping $144.99 a month.  Why nothing faster (let alone cheaper)?  According to The New York Times, Verizon says its customers simply don't need it, they're already in "satisfying demand" with their current slow, expensive service.

But the truth is Verizon doesn't want you to have true high speed internet.  At any price.  It's working in collusion with American cable companies and AT&T to make sure you don't get it.  One of the reasons is an unwillingness to invest in the infrastructure necessary to provide great service.  The other is a desire to use the unfulfilled promise of broadband to push U.S. Government regulators to give them concessions (and corporate bailouts) to further strengthen their monopolies on American telecom.

But even those aren't the main reason.  Verizon and other companies could easily offer super high speed internet as a high priced option (as if $149.99 a month isn't high enough) and pay for whatever infrastructure they need.  By keeping it expensive, they could still claim to regulators they need "help" to bring down the price.  The problem is, even at a high price, there is probably enough demand for true broadband that any offered service might take off quickly, and that would create real problems for Verizon's bigger plans for the internet.

So why are the big telecoms holding back on true broadband?  Because they are obsessed with tiered pricing, aka "pay per bit."  They already lost the war on pay per bit for regular internet access.  They are currently fighting like crazy to force it down the throats of customers on cell service, and they refuse to offer true broadband until customers "accept" the a new pricing policy that would fundamentally change the way people use the internet.  And not for the better.

There is no logical reason to charge people per bit for information, it's bad business and bad technology.  Yet Verizon and AT&T both sprung from the split head of old Ma Bell.  And old Ma Bell was built on the idea of gaining monopoly control, suppressing technology,  and charging customers outrageous rates for things that cost almost nothing (like long distance calling).  This hatred for customers seems to be engrained in the DNA of both of these former baby bells, who are determined to cram much hated tiered pricing down the throats of unwilling cell users even if it ends up hurting their own business.

Case in point, Verizon announced that this summer, unlimited data plans for its iPhone will be going away.  New iPhone customers will be forced into various "pay per bit" offerings.

How does Verizon justify changing its policy?  Because the current policy is not a "long term solution." Why isn't it a long term solution?  More customers mean more money for infrastructure and should make it even easier to offer unlimited service to everyone.  Moving bits around gets cheaper and cheaper every day, thanks to advances in technology, but for some reason Verizon (like AT&T) wants to charge more and more for what costs them less and less.  It's a shame they can't blame the datahogs anymore.  They can't even manage to come up with a good lie for why they want to gouge customers.

Meanwhile, it seems some smoky room meetings between Verizon and AT&T have settled on a basic price for data access.

It just so happens that both of these telecoms want to charge on average $10 a gig for iPad 2 data access.  Now, isn't that convenient?  The only two providers of wireless service for the iPad happen to charge almost exactly the same amount, and neither offer unlimited data.  Anyone want to start a class action lawsuit into telecom collusion?  This seems like a good place to start.  I'm sure it would quickly prove that it costs more to keep track of how much data the iPad is using than it does to provide it with the data in the first place.

Which is why Verizon doesn’t want people to have 1 gig per second data access.  How can you charge $10 for something that you get in less than a second?  But a better question should be, how is it that Verizon and AT&T think you should pay $10 a gig for something you can get an unlimited amount of in Hong Kong for a low monthly rate?  Or for free at your local McDonald’s?  Or free for the life of your Kindle (offered by AT&T)?  It simply makes no sense and the public is not going to buy it.

Which is why AT&T is offering to grandfather in unlimited data for old iPad subscribers.  But, again, how does it justify charging $10 per gig for one customer, and then an unlimited amount for another?  Both AT&T and Verizon are playing a ridiculous game of offering unlimited data the second they need to keep a hold of customers, but assuming they can push it new customers.

Long term, it’s a losing battle.  Competitors won't sit around on their hands while AT&T and Verizon get away with charging $10 per gig.  It's exactly how they destroyed their long distance phone business, charging too much for something that cost almost nothing, until they created so many competitors they virtually lost the business.  It’s also how they destroyed their basic cell service model, by gouging customers and forcing everyone to switch to pay as you go phones.  Until the iPhone saved them.  Now they’re determined to kill the golden goose.

But even short term, it's bad business.  There is no reason every iPad shouldn’t be purchased with 3G at a reasonable low price.  By gouging a few customers, they’re going to encourage a lot of people to stick to wi-fi and that’s a huge lost opportunity.    Likewise, a lot of people simply can't afford smart phones, but would love to have them.  If prices went down on monthly fees, every cell phone would become a smart phone.  Forcing pay per bit on customers simply suppresses sales growth.

If these companies were smart, they would understand that in a wireless future, every car, printer, computer, toy, etc, could benefit from wireless access, if the rates were low enough.  Rather than trying to squeeze $100 a month out of a customer by making his life miserable charging per bit, it would be better for that customer to pay $100 to have wireless access on many devices.  Rather than getting rid of an old iPhone as soon as you can, because it simply costs too much a month to have more than one, it would be better in the long run for AT&T if someone kept it as a spare and tucked in their car.  Likewise, when a teenager replaces their iPad with an iPad 2, if the price was right, they would keep both connected to AT&T, rather than cutting off the monthly bill as quickly as possible.  The amount of money AT&T and Verizon could make by customers keeping subscriptions for devices they only occasionally use would be far greater than what can be make by simply inflating bills and creating wary customers reluctant to be ripped off.

While hating customers might be a short sighted business model for Verizon and AT&T, it’s a really horrible business model for  Apple, Google, Facebook, and a lot of other really huge companies.  There is no upside to those big players in return to Ma Bell style “master switch” technology suppression.  They aren’t likely to sit by as people become frustrated with unpredictable bills for accessing the internet.  The last thing anyone, but the telcoms, want is for internet users to start going “those stupid advertisements just cost me 10 cents to watch.”  Or, updating my photos on Facebook will cost 50 cents.   It’s not going to happen.  Those big companies have the money and technology to quickly step in and provide innovate technological alternatives rather than sit by and watch Verizon and AT&T tax every internet interaction.

Americans haven’t quite clued into the fact that they have the slowest and most expense internet service in the civilized world simply because the big telecoms want it that way, but eventually they will catch on.  Someone will send them a high def video from Hong Kong.  It will take a second to upload from Hong Kong (for free) and ten minutes and $10 to watch in America.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AT&T's "Data Hog" Lies Exposed

Remember the “data hog?”  No?  It was a huge crisis less than a year ago, supposedly threatening the entire cell phone industry.  Data hogs were the mythical creatures that “forced” AT&T to adopt a tiered pricing structure charging iPhone users per bit.  AT&T  claimed its tiered pricing would save money for everyone, except for greedy data hogs.  And who cared about them?

The data hog myth was widely reported in the mainstream press as if it was a fact.  The Los Angeles Times said that if something wasn't done about data hogs poor AT&T would be "forced to its knees."  The New York Times breathlessly painted a picture of evil data hogs downloading long into the night.  Of course, it was all total bullshit, transparently a lie from the beginning.  It was corporate spin to sell a much hated and unnecessary pricing structure.  The main stream press happily regurgitated the lies for their masters in telecom industry.  (Is anyone disappointed big city newspapers are going away?  Not me.)

The data hog myth never made any sense, as I pointed out in many of my posts.   But after a year or so of silly PR spin trying to sell a fake crisis, AT&T took the lead in showing their contempt for customers by instituting tiered pricing, pointing the finger of blame at “data hogs.”  Never mind that the way AT&T implemented tiered pricing, by grandfathering in all the data hogs, made even less sense if there had been a real crisis.  AT&T got what it wanted with its lies, and set about with big plans to screw new customers, and anyone trying to upgrade their service.

Naturally, the supposed benefits of tiered pricing, lower bills, better service because "data hogs" are reined in, didn’t materialize at AT&T.  Service was just as crappy as it ever was, because the problem was never that iPhone customers hogged data.  It was that AT&T simply didn't build enough cell towers to service phones properly (regardless of data requests).

We don't hear much about data hogs these days.  Not because tiered pricing controlled them, but simply because high data use customers are exactly who the cell companies want.  Verizon is offering its new iPhone customers unlimited data (for a limited time).  They apparently want the very kind of data hogs that were going to destroy AT&T.

Moreover,  AT&T doesn't want to lose any potential data hogs.  A recent article shows that if a customer gets angry enough about tiered pricing to threaten to leave, AT&T will grandfather them back onto an unlimited data plan:

So if it wasn't already obvious there was no data hog problem, it's crystal clear now.  Then why is Verizon only offering unlimited data for "a limited time?"  Well, because, like AT&T, it dreams of being able to gouge customers with tiered pricing, it just isn't sure when it will be able to do it.  You see, there is still a little competition in the cell phone business, and until AT&T and Verizon are finally in control of the internet, they don’t have the leverage to completely force customers into tired pricing.

Meanwhile, the real motivations for AT&T switching to metered data use are becoming painfully clear to customers.  A new lawsuit claims, no big surprise, that AT&T is actually systematically over charging customers for imaginary data:

Yep, you guessed it.  Once AT&T got meters on your data for billing, it started billing you for data you didn't even use, figuring you couldn't figure out your real usage.  The purpose was never to rein in high data use customers, who are the most likely to switch and shop around (and who AT&T and Verizon will happily cut unlimited data deals with).  The goal, of course, was to rip off little old ladies who don't use much data, and don't understand why their bill is so high, but figure a big corporation wouldn't lie.

That is, a return to the good old days of Ma Bell.  The problem for AT&T is this ripping off grandma strategy, that worked nicely back with a legal monopoly on long distance rates, doesn't fly so well in today's high tech information age where it can't control the flow of information and get people to think that black is white.  More lawsuits are likely to flow unless AT&T changes its stripes.  By trying to meter data, they are simply creating incentives for people to figure out a way around their service.  Just like how they lost control of long distance calling.

Once again, AT&T, why don’t you consider offering quality, price and innovation instead of greed, lying and overcharging?  You know, run your company like a business.  Seems to be working for Apple.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why the Verizon iPhone is a Huge Blow to AT&T

There's finally going to be a Verizon iPhone and Apple fans will have a choice of carriers to choose from in the foreseeable future.  And maybe, finally, iPhones will work for making phone calls.  So this is great news for anyone who has suffered with AT&T's terrible service, and high prices, for many years.

In a lot of ways, it seemed inevitable.  Why should the iPhone, unlike virtually every other popular phone, not be offered on every carrier?  Surely the blame falls on Apple, which made an exclusive deal with AT&T, and renewed it at least once.  Besides, the Android pretty much does everything the iPhone does, and it's already offered on multiple carriers.  So iPhone is just catching up with the Android.  Other than a few years of needless suffering by iPhone users under AT&T's thumb, it's no big deal?  Right?

No, it's a huge deal.  Because the iPhone wasn't just any phone.  Behind the scenes, the iPhone represented a huge war between Apple and the major cellular companies.  Apple won.  And AT&T lost.  So did Verizon, ironically, by having to cave in an beg for the iPhone.  But the biggest loser is undoubtedly AT&T which comes out of this battle very bruised, beaten, and unlikely to fully recover.

To understand why, you have to understand AT&T's historic business model and why the iPhone was such a threat, and why an unleashed iPhone is even a bigger threat.

First, AT&T's business model is making sure customers have no choice but to use AT&T, regardless of service or prices.  This is deeply ingrained in their tradition, and despite anti-trust laws, court orders demanding common carriage and being unable to keep up with changes in technology, this is still their primary (and perhaps only) business strategy.  A wonderful book called "The Master Switch," which I have mentioned before, neatly outlines AT&T's history of monopoly practices.   These include buying up competition, suppressing technology, defying court orders, and dirt tricks against both customers and business rivals.  But even more importantly, AT&T used its connections with the Federal government to lobby for anti-competitive policy.  And for a time, from the 1920's to the 1980's, "Ma Bell" even had a legal government approved monopoly.  It certainly didn't hurt that AT&T assisted the government in whatever wiretapping and spying on citizens was deemed necessary.

It was argued at that time (which was just after and then in the middle of world wars and then a cold war) that competition in such a critical service wasn't a good thing.  It was also argued, that by giving AT&T a monopoly, America ended up with the best phone service in the world.  But in fact, there was no reason America, a rising economic giant, shouldn't have great phone service regardless.  And as "The Master Switch" points out, the price that was paid in lack of innovation (AT&T suppressed magnetic tape recording technology back in the 1940's and cellular phone service in the 60's) was not worth the price.  America probably threw away at least a twenty year technological lead on the world thanks to AT&T's paranoia of losing control over its customers.  Not to mention, decades of needlessly high long distance rates.

But even with a legal monopoly, AT&T's position as the gate keeper for all American communications became increasingly threatened by not only changes in technology, which allowed numerous ways to get around their control, but also by their own heavy handed (i.e. illegal) business practices.  There is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship, because new and stronger enemies will always surface that must be crushed.  Satellites and microwave transmissions provided ways around AT&T's control of land lines, and the rise of the computer created powerful technology rivals.  By the 1960's AT&T's illegal business practices in maintaining it's monopoly control were so egregious that it was just a question of time before it had to be reined in.  Though it took another twenty years of court action, the Federal government finally forced it to break up into pieces in 1984.  Such an ironic date.

But it didn't take long for a diehard AT&T exec named Edward Whitacre to try to reconstruct this monster, nor did it take him long to do it.  Before any real competition was created, Whitacre quickly reversed the forced breakup by simply buying back up the pieces.  He returned to the standard business model of suppressing competition through dirty tricks, and more importantly, Federal lobbying.  By the time the last Bush administration took office, with more interest in spying on citizens than encouraging communication competition, Whitacre had reversed almost all the anti-monopoly restrictions placed on AT&T and had almost completely resembled the original monolith.  Just to make sure there was no confusion, he even bought back the much tarnished name.  He then retired with a $200 million dollar bonus.  

Which brings us to today.  AT&T's current executives obviously want to follow in the footsteps of this effective, if questionably legal, tradition of making sure customers have no choice but to buy AT&T service and pay what AT&T wants.  (They also want to follow in Whitacre's non-traditional emphasis on huge executive bonuses.)  Yes, there is technically some competition.  While AT&T owns all the phone land lines for much of the country, there is Verizon (also made up of former Ma Bell pieces) and a couple minor competitors for cell service.  There are also cable companies, which have a separate line into many people's homes.

But this "competition" isn't meant to be real competition.  Instead of Ma Bell's original monarchy over telephone service, the new telecoms would jointly rule in an Oligarchy over a larger kingdom that included not only phone service, but also once forbidden data services, cellular and cable television access.  Smaller rivals would be tolerated until they could be bought out, or crushed the old fashion way by anti-competitive practices, or if that didn't work, Federal regulation.  At the end of the day, two, or maybe three, victors would remain, with AT&T being the leader, and collusion between them to fix prices and stifle future competitors.

Where does the iPhone fit into all this?  Well, it's a game changer, and a serious challenger to AT&T's desire to be the gate keeper of information and communication.  The iPhone interface imposes itself between the customer and AT&T.  It provides services (like iTunes) that AT&T does not profit from.  It can even be used without AT&T (through wi-fi or simply as a pocket computer).  In other words, it turns AT&T into a "dumb pipe."  Or worse.  It is, in fact, everything rolled into one that AT&T fought against throughout its long history of monopoly control.  It was a technological baby that needed to be strangled in the cradle.  Now, it's too big to stop.

So why did AT&T allow it to happen?  Well, it didn't.  The original Apple deal was made with Cingular, which at the time was an independent company which hadn't been completely sucked up by Whitacre.  If it had been, it was unlikely AT&T would have made the original deal and opened the door to its own potential demise.  Verizon, for example, originally refused to make an iPhone deal unless Apple allowed it to impose itself on customers through the interface.  

Once the deal had been made, though, it quickly became clear the iPhone was a smash success, and, if there had been any doubt, clearly a serious threat.  AT&T had two choices at that point, to try to destroy it, or to embrace it and keep monopoly control.

The problem with destroying it was that Apple is a big, profitable company with plenty of lawyers to protect it.  AT&T's normal strong arm tactics, which served it well in the past, wouldn't have worked.  Moreover, if AT&T stopped providing service, Apple could easily jump to one of the smaller services or even theoretically build its own service

Since the genie was already out of the bottle, the only other alternative was to work closely with Apple, and make sure the device never got offered on any other service.  This could have been done simply by providing great service, at a low enough cost that there would be no need for alternatives.  Apple has never been one to shy against exclusive arrangements as long as it gets what it wants out of them.  And it was pretty clear Apple had no interest in becoming a telecom.   Unfortunately, it would require AT&T to embrace the idea of being a dumb pipe, something they were adamant against.

Presented with only two logical alternatives, AT&T's current executives decided instead to do neither and take the worst possible path.  They didn't stand in the way of the iPhone, but also didn't embrace it.  Instead, they milked it for all the short term profit they could, essentially selling way their future.  They failed to invest in the infrastructure necessary to service such a popular device, over charged for its service, and pissed off Apple enough that it ended its exclusive relationship.  But heck, in the meantime, they took home huge executive bonuses.  For all of her faults, the old Ma Bell at least understood that short term profits had to be sacrificed to build infrastructure so as to control the future.  The iPhone represented the future, and AT&T apparently had no plan to deal with it.

It's important to understand that this is the first time in AT&T history that it has lost monopoly of control over a piece of important technology or an important service without the Federal government forcing it to.  Once AT&T took control of local service in an area, it never lost it.  Once it took control of long distance service, it never lost it.  Likewise with the manufacture of phones, etc.  It was only when the Federal government stepped in and said, "you've gone too far" has AT&T ever lost control.  And even then, it usually regrouped and found a way around the regulations or court orders.

But in the case of the iPhone, AT&T has now lost a significant monopoly simply because it was poorly managed.  And it was not a monopoly it could not afford to lose unless it is willing to be simply a common carrier, which its executives have frequently said they will not be.

Verizon too, is the loser.  AT&T allowed the iPhone to become so big that Verizon was forced to agree to the terms Apple original insisted upon.  It now is only left with one option, to embrace the iPhone and try to compete simply by providing the best "dumb pipe" service.

The success of the iPhone has also opened the door to the less threatening, but still threatening Android phone.  Unlike the iPhone, the Android allows carriers to impose themselves between Google and the customer by "customizing" the operating system, but it also opens up a world of choices and services that the telecoms originally hoped customers would not have.

Theoretically, the 1984 Federal court order broke up AT&T and ended its monopoly control over American phone users.  But in the long run, Steve Jobs famous 1984 release of the Macintosh, which introduced a new way of computers interacting with people, was equally important.  Interface advances in the Macintosh paved the way for the iPhone.

Because the truth is: AT&T's monopoly didn't really end until the iPhone shattered it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ready for Tomorrow's Verizon iPhone Announcement

Just finished reading Tim Wu's "The Master Switch."  It really shows the evil that is AT&T, with tons of historical perspective.  It is a must read for anyone interested in Telecom issues.

Tomorrow is predicted to be the announcement of the iPhone's arrival on Verizon.  In keeping with "The Master Switch" subject, if it finally happens, and it looks like it will, this is a huge blow to AT&T.  It will represent the first time in history that AT&T has lost a monopoly without a court order forcing them to do so.  It isn't quite the beginning of the end for AT&T, but it is a huge set back for them.

What the heck, yeah, it is the beginning of the end for AT&T.

I'll be commenting more once I find out the particulars tomorrow.  In the meantime, be sure to check out this book: