We’re now solidly into whining hypocrisy with our local phone monopoly.
Stories in both the Advertiser and the Advocate report on two clearly linked lawsuits whose purpose is to first delay and if possible make more expensive LUS’s fiber optic utility operation. Both suits aim to delay the sale of bonds and to impose new conditions on that sale that would make them more expensive.
Let’s be very clear about this: BellSouth’s purpose is to defeat the express will of the people of Lafayette or at least make it much more expensive by making the bonds that fund it much more expensive. The two very similar lawsuits center on BellSouth’s peculiar belief that public entities shouldn’t have the same rights to support new ventures that private entities have.
BellSouth has decided that, having lost in public opinion, lost at the polls, and lost at the PSC on the regulatory meaning of state law that what it ought to do is not settle down and compete but sue the city over its bond ordinance.
This is obscene. What makes it obscene rather than simply self-serving is the gut-wrenching hypocrisy involved with BellSouth, inheritor of a long line of “subsidies” from the public trough–not the least of which was an elaborate set of tax givebacks on and an electrical power subsidy from LUS (both of which YOU pay for every year) for our local Cingular call center–is now whining that LUS using its own money to “subsidize” the operations of the telecom utility.
A very limited “cross-subsidization” is provided for by the enabling legislation and acknowledged by new state regulation. The law allows LUS to “pledge” its resources. You and I think that sounds pretty clear. That limited ability doesn’t hold a candle to the “cross subsidization” that occurred and continues to occur when BellSouth uses its state-guaranteed profits on your phone line, not to lower your rates or to upgrade your line, but to buy itself into Cingular wireless and to buy out companies that compete with Cingular. This is but one way that the so-called “fair competition” law passed two summers ago is really about “unfair” competition that punishes public entities for representing its local customer/citizens instead of private, distant, shareholders.
BellSouth should be ashamed or, if shame is something it cannot feel, then at least embarrassed. Some people want to pretend that BellSouth is a representative of “private enterprise.” It is no such thing. It is the inheritor of monopoly priviledge who uses its entrenched power on both the state and federal levels to block the entry of new competition if possible or to cripple it if it can.
The will of the people has been clearly expressed. BellSouth should compete if it can. Trying to further rig the playing field to its advantage simply reveals that it fears it cannot compete.