Phone Companies Or Cellular Cartels?

This is what phone companies have sunk to these days.  Money-hungry fleece machines out for every dollar you have (or have left):

Stop The Cap! – AT&T Knows Best: Kentucky Senator Introduces Company-Written Bill That Ends Universal Service

This is a symptom, not the problem.  The problem is that these companies don’t know how to do anything other than gouge people for more and more money in a day and age when people don’t have any.  Now I’m sure you’re wondering why a tech guy like me would defend landline phones.  Quite frankly, cellphones have been a scam from the beginning and this is just the latest step in phone companies finding a way around the way telephones used to work.

People wonder why I’m not a big cellphone nut.  Well that’s quite simple.  Phone-phone service in my neck of the woods is $20/month and it works.  Know any cell plans that beat that?  Of course you don’t.  That’s because phone companies have been pushing cellphones like some hot new drug since this millennium started but very much prefer sucking every nickel and dime out of the technology rather than properly developing and deploying it – especially AT&T.  The places I’ve heard of where AT&T is synonymous with bad service are just too many to count, even locally.  At my last job, you could tell who had AT&T as their carrier because they’d constantly be pressing themselves against a window just to get any service whatsoever.  Even T-Mobile or Sprint worked better for crying out loud.  😛

I’m probably the last person on Earth to acknowledge that cellphones are a poor replacement for landlines on everything other than mobility.  People can sound robotic from the other end, “break up”, get their call dropped, 911 service isn’t tied to a physical location, then of course you have the whole problem of cell towers getting blown down during storms.  Let’s also not forget surprise charges on bills like what folks are finding out the hard way on business trips when they get hit with roaming charges but didn’t know they were incurring any.  This doesn’t even mention the social issues of cellphone drivers, people walking into stuff in stores because they’re on their phone, morons in theaters chattering on their phones, phones going off in the middle of important meetings, etc.

For the phone companies though, cellphones are a gold mine.  Little wonder then that their lobbyists are hard at work screwing with governments to stiff-arm their customers even more.  Universal service for those of you who don’t know is the reason why you get to have basic phone service no matter where you go, but tele-conners are hard at work trying to change wireless service from a luxury to a base technology and then dump all that infrastructure they have to maintain.  Right now it’s for rural areas, but just you watch.  I’ll bet even cities get the plug pulled on them once they gain the legal precedent to stop doing their job and force everyone to switch to cellphones, including businesses, and pay more for the same stuff.

Some folks would consider this “technological progress.”  Utter hogwash.  Wireless ANYTHING has a long and established reputation for not being as reliable as wired connections.  Just look at cordless keyboards and mice lagging or suddenly shutting off for no reason under normal use, rabbit ears TV being a giant snowfest where you’d get maybe two channels with a decent picture in the days before Cable TV, over-the-air radio versus piped-in radio over broadband, satellite TV with its numerous weather outages, etc.  The thing is though, people are so razzle-dazzled by their cellphone addictions that companies like AT&T will gladly try to get these things rammed through legislatures while the American people wind up all that much poorer and they continue to line their pockets while only doing the bare minimum to make the technology actually work.  Oh yeah, that’s right folks.  Let’s not forget who we’re dealing with here.  Despite what they do, the Big Blue Death Star was #2 on the Fortune 500 sorted by profits in 2011:

Things could be much better, but so long as there’s a ready supply of suckers…errr….customers, don’t expect things to change anytime soon.  :-\


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