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Ideas, Linked; Ideals, Inked.

When Trust and Anti-Trust Collide…


Do they annihilate each other?

In a miracle of physics, no. See, there used to be this one trust, called AT&T, up until the arly 1980’s, when anti-trust rules forced them to break up. Ove the past twenty-odd years,we have learned that trust was not destroyed, but simply lying in wait.

Through machinations mostly boring, often scary, and occasionally funny (thanks, Mr. Colbert), AT&T (now at&t), is mostly back together.

Cingular Wireless follows an interesting path… Cingular was founded as a joint SBC and BellSouth venture. Cingular was a conglomeration of many small cellular companies from the 1990s. Meanwhile, AT&T decded to spinoff AT&T Wireless in 2000. Then, in 2004, Cingular bought AT&T Wireless. After acquisitions all around, including SBC taking over it’s old mama, AT&T (and renaming itself at&t). So SBC owned at&t and half of Cingular, which itself owned AT&T Wireless. Then, just recently, at&t bought BellSouth (the other half-owner of Cingular). So at&t now owns Cingular, and is re-branding them at&t.

That all make sense? Wish trust and anti-trust annilated each other now? I do.

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Filed under: Culture, Tech

2 Responses

  1. Dave On Fire says:

    Is this really a failure of antitrust legislation? AT&T only needed to be split up because it dominated the market and prevented competition. After it was split up, new companies were able to emerge without being instantly crushed by the AT&T behemoth, and a reconstituted at&t may not pose such a threat in today’s more diverse market. If not, there is no reason why it should not be allowed to reform a la T-1000, but if so then yes this is a failure.
    Incidentally, one reason why Cingular opted to call its new conglomerate at&t rather than Cingular is because AT&T has an almost uniquely memorable stock exchange mnemonic: T.

  2. vijtable says:

    Dave, thanks for the response. I actually think it’s a failure of enforcement of antitrust legislation.

    at&t now has many local monopolies, as evidenced by the wikipedia articles linked above. Like cable companies, I don’t think local monopolies create much more competition than a national monopoly. (I do know there is some competition… But it’s still an oligopoly.)

    There’s another wrinkle… at&t, Verizon, and Qwest all own most of the fiber trunks across the country (which were subsidized by the federal government). While at&t agreed to abide by net neutrality for two years, after that they can fight for net non-neutrality. Here’s what I wrote about it.

    If there were more companies competing in every market for my business (cable and telcos), I would agree that it’s not a big deal. But right now, there are so few companies which gain so much from having less competition that I think we’re dealing with lots of AT&T’s now, instead of just the one.

    The fact that companies are trying to tier the internet can only come from each one controlling a large enough percentage of the highways information flows on (the trunks). That speaks of trust to me. A (truly) competitive market would be one where needing to legislate net neutrality would be absurd because so few companies control enough of the bandwidth for it to be profitable. Since they are fighting for it, that means they control too much, leaving a consumer (and site owners) at the mercy of huge companies.

    As for naming… at&t decided to call Cingular at&t; Cingular didn’t make the decision. This is despite the fact that Cingular has a solid brand image, and invested millions in moving people away from the AT&T Wireless brand for the past two years. Warren Buffett believes that quality brands should not be consolidated, branding-wise, simply for the sake of unity. And I agree with him. Consumers can distinguish between owners and the owned.

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Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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