RBOC innovation: ‘One for the Price of Two!’

The New York Times reports that (GASP!) all but one of the RBOC phone companies won’t let you access what they call high-speed Internet unless you pay for a basic phone line.

That is, in those places where Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC) customers can manage to get Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) access, you’re also required to pay for a basic phone line — even if you don’t use that phone!

A spokesman for SBC says no one is forcing people to buy their broadband access from his company; but, in a number of cases it’s the RBOC way or the highway.

Recall, now, how hard the RBOCs have worked and how much money they’ve spent in the mostly successful attempt to deny competitors access to the networks that they built during the decades when they (or their predecessor AT&T) were regulated monopolies. To use the lack of competition as leverage to force consumers to pay for a service that they don’t want in order to get one they do was called “tying” in the Microsoft anti-trust case (which the Feds actually won).

It’s such tone deafness to the needs and interests of consumers that have made RBOCs so unpopular. I for one am counting on BellSouth not being able to learn a new trick in the coming months as Lafayette moves to vote in support of the LUS fiber initiative.

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