Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Judge Explores Why Telco Mergers Were Allowed

from the asking-some-questions dept

A few weeks ago we noted that famous anti-trust lawyer Gary Reback was pushing the courts to look into whether or not the big telcos broke the law in getting their various mergers approved. It appears those efforts have paid off. Federal District Judge Emmet Sullivan has now asked the Department of Justice for more info, noting that to his untrained eyes, the mergers definitely seem harmful to competition and the market -- so he'd like some more info on why they were approved. This could certainly get interesting pretty quickly. While it seems unlikely that he'd be able to turn back the clock and break up the mergers, it could lead to additional restrictions on the companies. Unfortunately, that might be the worst of both worlds, with the companies merged, but with the government (or the courts) trying to come up with the best way to create competition.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    anonymous insight, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 8:05pm

    thankfully, a techdirt article that is informative, and without opinionated commentary. I'm tired of all the articles with lines like "how far have [insert group here] gone when even [insert normal supporters of previous group] push back?" questions in the article summary. while I usually completely agree with the stance techdirt takes on issues, the outward and flagrant opinionation is getting on my nerves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    ScaredofTheMan, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 8:22pm

    So Stop Reading it then

    That's why we Come to Tech Dirt to read articles AND believe or not OP Ed too.

    This is not CNN Bro!

    May Tech Dirt Never change!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike Mixer, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 8:35pm

    Judge and jury

    I imagine the telcos' lawyers are telling their clients that there is nothing to this and it will all blow over. That being the case we should flood the judge with amicus curiae briefs enumerating the nationwide disenfranchisement that is the legacy of these various and sundry mergers. If the judge has evidence of suppression of competition, even if anechdotal, he may be convinced that there is a rat in the kitchen no matter what the justice dept. says.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    g, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 8:54pm

    Re: So Stop Reading it then

    Opinions are good.

    I will know pretty quickly if I disagree with the opinion, but Im happy to have it since it's pretty well thought out.

    Sure, articles sometimes sound repetitive, but thats because the news is repetitive. The way things are today is not that great, we need thoughts on how to change them, and the more people trying to think of reasonable ways to do so the better.

    People who disagree are part of the news piece here, because there arent so many comments that theyre unreadable, and some of them are very insightful and give differing perspectives than the article editorial.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 9:35pm

    Re: anonymous insight

    Your overwhelming insight that you added to this article is...

    ...completely underwhelming.

    Thank you for contributing such an insightful and on-topic comment to this article.

    Oh, wait, you were just being a mindless ass complaining and trying to shove you opinion of what content this site should host on others. Well, thanks for that... I think...

    Tell you what, really... If you dont like the articles being posted, stop wasting your time, and don't read it. Your post about the other articles not proving useful to you is every bit as useless as this post I am writing right now.

    So stop, or I will tell you to stop a second time. Its better for both of us if you just stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Orientdrifter, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 11:50pm

    Competition has become more fluid. For instance, telephone communication is not only offered by Telcos, but also by cable companies and internet start-ups. And there are new opportunities out there that Telcos have to take advantage of, like audio and video file sharing, in order to survive. I believe Telcos have no choice but to merge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Irritated Customer, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 5:12am

    Wait a sec...

    Once upon a time, I had Ameritech for telephone and DSL. One day, I get a letter saying "Welcome to the new SBC Ameritech". A short time was just SBC. Then they merged with AT&T. Now they just go by "The All-New AT&T".

    As the company gets larger, I find it harder to get through to tech support (when and if I need it), and it takes them forever to get out to my house for repairs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Wolfger, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 5:36am

    Re: Wait a sec...

    First I had Ameritech DSL, and life was good.
    Then it was SBC/Ameritech DSL, and nothing much changed except tech support went from "pretty good" to "bad".
    Then is was SBC DSL (although my e-mail was still @ameritech).
    Then AT&T merged/bought SBC.
    Now I have a cable modem and Vonage. I really don't see the problem. :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Flamsmark (profile), Jul 11th, 2006 @ 6:45am

    Partisan News

    techdirt is a partisan news source. it is read by those who want a partisan news source with this bias. if you would prefer a news source with a different or less noticable bias, then i suggest that techdirt is not an appropriate news source for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Andrew N., Jul 11th, 2006 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Wait a sec...

    Just for the record... AT&T was bought by SBC... pretty much just for the name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Paul, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: Wait a sec...

    I believe the point is, it's nice to not feel like you're at the mercy of the all might Corporation even though you are. I miss the days when people could do everything themselves for free.

    The laws of this land are suppose to protect the minority from the majority, the rich, and the powerful. If our rights are treated as such as, "just a piece of paper", then the laws are not being upheld to their fullest extent.

    Just remember that the rich and powerful don't have to play by the same rules as the "little guy". If if were you or me that distributed something like Sony's rootkit for Windows, we'd already been fined or in prison. OH! But Sony didn't even get a slap on the wrist. Isn't that a bitch?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    the Water Fountain, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Wait a sec...

    If you feel 'repairs' take too long, tell them you are cancelling your service due to their inability to meet their end of the contractual agreement... Even if it's not in there, they still bend over backwards when you say the key words 'cancel my service'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Suspicious, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 7:51am

    Remember the wiretapping?

    There are those who see a direct connection between the recent telco mergers, most notably AT&T, and the Bush administration's secret wiretapping of US citizens ostensibly in the interests of national defence. "Wanna get that competition-killer merger through the SEC? That could be arranged, in trade for letting us do some illegal snooping."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Der Oesterricher, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Wait a sec...

    Actually, it had a lot to do with how the Bell South/SBC owned Cingular bungled the AT&T wireless business.

    Whoops, they forgot to buy the name. AT&T planned to sell their business, then relaunch on leased lines as AT&T Wireless.

    Bell South didn't have the cash, so SBC bought them in no small part to protect their investment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Brad Eleven, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Wait a sec...

    Au contraire!

    Both companies listed >$1B annual savings over having to enforce the divestiture requirements. Most expensive? Double staffing in legacy AT&T buildings which moved into regional bell ownership.

    IMHO, the AT&T brand is a liability, not an advantage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    brenda in virginia, Jul 12th, 2006 @ 1:26pm

    can they afford it

    I am curious to see if Verizon and AT&T can even afford these mergers. Verizon is about to be served with a lawsuit for knowinly and purposely allowing thousands of employees to work with, be exposed to, suffer injuries , disabilities and possible death from a product they knew could cause these problems. In addition, Verizon had prepared warnings to give to employees and chose not to give them; apparently this was done to avoid paying medical disabilities, workers comp and associated costs. Now, Verizon has involved AT&T in this also and they both may be facing tens of billions in losses related to this litigaiton. John Thorne, counsel , Ivan Seidenberg, Doreen Toben and most corporate officers of Verizon are aware of this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.