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Summary:

A new rule would allow phone companies to not report the data on customer complaints and network outages.

I promised I wouldn’t do more than two posts a day, but this one is such a doozy and so anti-consumer that I just couldn’t resist. Phone companies led by AT&T (same old company whose wireless network is breaking because of too many iPhones) wants FCC to allow them to send less information to the commission when it comes to things like customer complaints, network breakdowns and infrastructure-related investments. What’s weirder is that the great champion of phone companies, Kevin Martin, chairman of hte FCC, can’t wait to get this order out of the door and give a parting gift to his long-time friends.

“We need to update this for a level playing field with the marketplace of today,” Martin told The Washington Post. “On quality of service, for example, if that data is relevant for one carrier, then it should be relevant for all platforms.” In other words, instead of forcing cable companies to report this information and making them more accountable, too, he just wants to do away with any accountability for phone companies.

The order to remove all accountability is going to be passed today, according to The Washington Post, and with that we would have yet another proof that Federal Communications Commission doesn’t have consumer interests at heart. Its job should be to keep a tight leash on the carriers, spanking them with a wet bamboo cane every single time they do anything anti-consumer. Instead we have a toothless organization that serves everyone but the people. What do you guys think?

  1. I think we can expect a lot of last minute corporate freebies before Bush is run out of the White House in November. This is what we get for putting anti-government extremists in charge of government.

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  2. this doesn’t necessarily make them unaccountable, just unaccountable to the government. right? if quality of service declines customers will flee it’s just the the QOS data won’t come via the government. There are still at least three national wireless carriers in this country. Any anti-consumer moves by any of them still leaves you with at least some options. Basically, I try not to rely on the government to look out for me ever.

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  3. It’s just business…once the technology is invented by selfless scientists, the businessmen enter the market for profit…it is the same with airline industry or automobile or oil industry….everyone works for profit.

    There is no point in straighting the dog tail…God knows..what else…the FCC and the white house passed as laws, that people aren’t even aware off…As great Vivekananda said…This world is a humbug!

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  4. Jesse Kopelman Monday, September 8, 2008

    I think it all started to go wrong with the FCC right around the PCS auctions. It is probably no coincidence the Republican Contract with America was also born around the same time.

    For those who say let market forces take care of everything — that is a long term and macro solution. What about those getting screwed in the short-term or the many hundreds of thousands that are lost in the low granularity market view? The FCC is supposed to be there to help those people — not just nuts offended by miscellaneous body parts on broadcast TV or something Howard Stern said.

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  5. Om,

    You’re spot on that the FCC is not meeting its’ obligation to the american public. They’re clearly pandering to telco special interests.

    @Jesse,

    You nailed it, market forces can’t fix policy issues in the short term. Great call.

    @Mark,

    I suggest you read up on “market concentration” as defined in federal guidelines for commercial markets. Four major players constitute market concentration, hence an OLIGOPOLY. This move by the FCC makes it possible for the carrier oligopoly to continue in the short term at the very least.

    This move by the FCC does not in any way support free markets. Kevin Martin should be embarrassed by his actions.

    Best,

    Curtis

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  6. The Telecos are getting a little too bold for their own good. Perhaps with the FCC and Congress giving them a free pass on teleco immunity, they think that now they can have whatever they want.

    Next up, they are going to want to kill net neutrality. Comcast, AT&T, Sprint, would love to set up tolls and roadblocks on the Internet. They don’t want to be answerable to the FCC, and are trying to get around the last vestiges of monopoly regulations put in place in the 80′s by having all new age telecom services(SIP/VoIP and WiFi & Wireless) thought of as unregulated.

    If they get their way, they’ll let the old copper line analog networks fall into disrepair and start moving customer over to the newer, less regulated services. In theory, that would be a good thing for customers (faster digital fiber optic networks). But these guys aren’t to be trusted with your best interests and are using this as a way to cut competition, not share their newer networks with low cost resellers, and impose new surcharges and controls on the Internet.

    All the while, they continue to consolidate. So, we’ve got a bunch of huge, power hungry carriers who have been consolidating back into a monopoly who are fighting for less regulation!

    Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

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