Pardon me, but your Zipperer is open for business -- and the business is AT&T | WisCommunity

Pardon me, but your Zipperer is open for business -- and the business is AT&T

[img_assist|nid=49283|title=Phone it in|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=150|height=210]State Sen. Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) is not just a menace on environmental issues like strip mining. He's also pushing to further dergulate telcom utilities, which provide basic landline phones among other communications services.

Past bills to deregulate the telcoms in Wisconsin, stripping oversight by the state Public Service Commission, went down in flames, despite heavy lobbying and promoters like former State Sen. Jeff Plale, a conservative Democrat who now works for Scott Walker.

Zipperer's bill would eliminate regulation of rates and service quality standards by traditional phone utilities in the state, including AT&T and other companies. It would also end all “universal service” requirements that oblige the telcoms to offer basic service in rural areas where they the only providers of basic service, which benefits low- and fixed-income residents.

The telcom argument is that the firms need to be unleashed so they can better compete. Oh, really? Well, AT&T is one of the world's most profitable companies already. In 2009, the firm was the seventh most profitable in the US raking in net profits of $12.5 billion, and in newer rankings it compares favorably against several oil companies enjoying windfall profits.

Tellingly,  telcom labor unions oppose this kind of legislation. The Communications Workers of America, which represents employees at AT&T and other telecoms, says further deregulation could cost more jobs in the state.

AT&T argues deregulation is vital because it loses money on "old fashioned" copper-wire land lines, which put it it at a competitive disadvantage. However, one of the firm's growth markets is high-speed DSL Internet service. Another is its alternative to cable, which it calls U-verse. How does AT&T deliver these services? Why, on good old-fashioned copper phone lines, amped past Alexander Graham Bell's wildest imaginings by modern, solid-state digital electronics and signal compression. Fiber, coax or wireless delivery get the Internet and video signals to your neighborhood, and the final leg is delivered on those supposedly obsolete phone lines.

Besides, AT&T previously promised to upgrade its copper-based infrastructure in exchange for earlier deregulation, a cost it evidently now wants someone else to cover.

It's not just the state that has an interest in seeing that basic phone service carriage is regulated; so do local governments. Elsewise, outfits like AT&T could plunk down private infrastructure in public rights of way and not be as accountable for it. Cable companies already conned the state into their own deregulation boon. But two rights don't make a wrong.

For my earlier, much longer post backgrounding this issue, go to:

They're AT&T it again

http://uppitywis.org/blogarticle/theyre-att-it-again

And here's an excellent background piece from a third party Wis progressive blogger:

http://democurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2011/05/walker-throws-consumers-to-at...

Published

May 9, 2011 - 5:02pm

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