AT&T / T-Mobile: Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together?
NaSPA's Position by Leo A. Wrobel, President
In the current issue of Technical Support Magazine we carried an insightful article by Craig Diggwall entitled "AT&Y / T-Mobile: Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together?" That article posed the question whether AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile would improve service and solve a looming spectrum crunch, or whether it's just a grand scam to stifle competition by reducing the number of nationwide wireless providers. That's the $39 billion question now before federal regulators. So far at least, it looks like consumer sentiment is anything but in favor of the merger.
In almost 4500 comments filed the last few weeks with the Federal Communications Commission, (FCC) thousands of consumers have voiced opposition to AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile. In fact, no less than 99% of the comments posted on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) web site expressed opposition, claiming that the merger will lead to higher prices and less competition.
NaSPA's Position: Duuuuh, do you think?
Anyone who has ever taken a basic economics course knows that fewer players in an industry leads to higher prices and more limited choice, without government oversight. A union of AT&T and T-Mobile would shrink the number of national mobile operators (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile) from four to three. In fact, if approved, the proposed merger would create the nation's largest mobile carrier, with over 129 million subscribers. It will be the AT&T monopoly all over again, particularly if Sprint is forced to seek a merger with Verizon. In that case there will be two national wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon. Following that chain of thought, what happens when AT&T and Verizon want to merge? What happens later when, for that matter, THAT combined company wants to merge with the electric company? In the present regulatory environment it seems bigger is better, and customer service is the #1 goal of our regulatory agencies, at least as far as big companies go. But I digress...
NaSPA has taken a position on this merger: Against. The view of our organization is that if this merger is such a great idea for America, AT&T should be prepared to explain what it can do in exchange for serving the clear majority of all wireless users Will this merger create more information technology jobs? It does not look that way, in fact, in as we all well know mega-mergers are often accompanied by drastic downsizing in the acquired company. Setting aside NaSPA's parochial issues though, to this observer, the merger is a bad deal for the average consumer as well. Rather than trying to justify the merger with real benefits for the "John or Jane Q. User", AT&T instead appears to be using its powerful lobby to attempt to garner a legislated monopoly. Just run a web search on the AT&T / T-Moble merger, and if you are really resourceful, take a look at who is sponsoring legislation and who the money is coming from. The FCC still has to approve the merger, but wow, never before has the consumer faced such an uphill battle to resist having something they don't want shoved down their throat. Consider the comments on the FCC web site which run no less than 99% AGAINST the merger. I honestly did not cherry-pick these comments. Of the 4,420 comments filed as of this morning, these three were the last ones filed so they were essentially picked at random.
Robert Larson of Los Angeles said: I believe that the merger of T-Mobile and AT&T would reduce competition too much. We need to have at least four major carriers.
Mark and Shirly Carold of Redmond Washington said: I'm a citizen opposed to the AT&T purchase of T-Mobile USA.It seems as though there is already little competition in the wireless phone market. The few large players who provide this service all appear to have similar pricing plans and packages. Rather than compete with each other, they follow each others lead as if they meet in private to discuss service levels and pricing.
Moreover, AT&T's network is overcrowded and thus slow and unreliable. If they throw many of their customers on T-Mobile's network, I'm afraid the same will happen to TMobile's network. Please stop this harmful merger that will reduce competition even further in the U.S. wireless phone market.
Kema Egolum of Hyattsville Maryland said: We the loyal T-Mobile customers are opposed to the proposed AT&T / T-Mobile merger. If AT&T merges with T-Mobile we will lose our wonderful T-Mobile customer service that we are used to. Competition in the marketplace will be reduced thus prices will go up! We may also experience a decrease in the call quality due to airway saturation! I SAY BOYCOTT THE MERGER!!! IF AT&T MERGES WITH T-MOBILE WE ALL LEAVE T-MOBILE AND GO TO SPRINT!!!!
SAY NO to Decreased Customer Service!!!
SAY NO to Increased Prices!!!
SAY NO to Decreased Call Quality!!!
See for yourself by following the link below to the FCC web site. Enter Docket No. 11-65 where it says "Proceeding Number" then leave your own comments!
FCC web site
And what about comments in favor of this merger? Well, less than 1 out of 100 of the comments are pro merger. See for yourself. Some would actually be pretty funny if not for the fact that the U.S. consumer may be experiencing a railroad job by large special interests and the regulators who are supposed to protect them. Consider the "positive" comment below from a person named... well.... "Hello." "Hello" expressed support for AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA: Some people have concerns that the buyout may lead to fewer choices. However there is little difference between AT&T and T-Mobile's monthly data plans, the prices are almost the same between the two. Also AT&T would still face competition from Verizon, Sprint, and other minor network carriers, such as MetroPCS. The chances of a monopoly are very slim.
Finally, if you are an IT Professional in a company that could actually be hurt by the monopolization of wireless services as proposed in this merger, you have only until May 31, 2011 to file a Petition of Opposition with the FCC. This will register you as an opposing party to the merger so you can stay abreast and voice your concerns. So what do you think NaSPA members? We welcome your thoughts. Email me at email@example.com. Better yet, post your comments at the FCC Web Site (link below) under Docket 11-65 so that everyone knows how you think. It's democracy in action.
Be well, Members,
Leo A. Wrobel, President
File a Petition of Opposition
NaSPA Local Chapter Highlights!
Join the fun! Ask about starting your own NaSPA chapter!
IBM has been a dedicated host to the Metro New York NaSPA chapter for many years. In fact, the house was-a-rockin' at the recent New York Metro chapter meeting, sponsored by IBM, with over 60 in attendance. Shown above center are NaSPA National President Leo A. Wrobel, and Chapter President Mark Nelson. Interested in your own Chapter? What are you waiting for? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Clearview Consulting, L.L.C. is a proud sponsor of the North Texas Telecom Valley chapter of the NaSPA. Since 1995, Clearview has worked with industry-leading clients to develop and implement meaningful technology programs that tie directly to business results. From its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, Clearview has reached across the nation and the world to perform engagements throughout Europe and the Pacific Rim.
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Privacy Laws Must Change with the Times
By Todd Thibodeaux and David Valdez
A brave new world of technological innovation is emerging - some would say it has already emerged. Although we cannot predict the next killer app or revolutionary invention, we can be fairly sure that it will involve the use of personally identifiable information. Consumers have enthusiastically adopted personalized applications of all varieties, yet the way things stand now they must be prepared to sacrifice something at least as valuable: their privacy.
Congress is just beginning the complex process of developing legislation to protect consumer privacy while nurturing innovation in products and services. An important way to achieve the delicate
balance between encouraging technology and preserving privacy is for Congress to expand the capabilities of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure that it can keep up with the rapidly evolving
In the mid to late 1990s, the FTC began reviewing how websites collected and managed consumers' personally identifiable information. This led to the creation of a set of self-regulatory rules known as the Fair Information Practice Principles, which created four basic obligations: (1) consumers must be notified as to whether their online information is being collected, (2) consumers must provide consent as to whether or not they want their online information collected, (3) consumers must be able to view information a company has collected about them and verify its accuracy, and (4) businesses must undertake measures to ensure that information is accurate and stored securely.
The framework of the Fair Information Practice Principles is a good place to start when considering future privacy legislation. Over the past two decades it has demonstrated a suitable balance between responsible privacy standards and room for innovation. However, as technology evolves, the FTC should be able to keep up. The FTC should be provided with the discretion and flexibility to adapt, update and strengthen the Fair Information Practice Principles as well as its own role in safeguarding consumer privacy in response to changing technologies and consumer needs.
The FTC, in partnership with the private sector, should create privacy notices that are easy to read and understand in conjunction with an education campaign to inform consumers about their rights. Many privacy notices are dense and contain so much legalize that the notices become ineffective because consumers don't read them.
Congress should provide the FTC with the resources to create an Online Consumer Protection bureau that focuses exclusively on online crimes such as identify theft, e-mail scams, and privacy enforcement. This would expand the FTC's capabilities to investigate, prosecute and enforce consequences against breaches of privacy.
Any attempt to impose new privacy standards should distinguish between good actors that slip-up inadvertently versus bad actors that aim to cause trouble. A safe harbor program will accomplish this task by reducing liability if actions are preformed in good faith. Safe harbor programs provide a combination of carrot and stick which allow the FTC to execute different programs for different actors.
As policymakers continue to deliberate the best path for balancing the various stakeholder interests around the issue of online privacy, they must remember that any proposed legislation should not be absolute. The current set of privacy principles adopted by the FTC has worked well for over a decade and should serve as a framework for any new legislation. Technology is a moving target and privacy laws should be sufficiently flexible to adapt.
About the Authors: Todd Thibodeaux is CEO and President of CompTIA, a non-profit trade association advancing the global interests of information technology (IT) professionals and businesses (www.comptia.org). Todd can be reached at email@example.com. David Valdez is the organization's Senior Director of Public Advocacy. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robot Jeopardy Champ Graduates Med School
Wow, look at this great story from new NaSPA Member Lindsay Rafayko. One has to wonder how this interesting development bodes for our futures!
- Leo A. Wrobel, President
Robot Jeopardy Champ Graduates Med School
IBM reprograms the ‘Watson’ supercomputer to diagnose complex human illness
Americans across the country gasped early this year when IBM’s artificially intelligent computer system dubbed ‘Watson’ defeated two naturally intelligent human beings in a series of Jeopardy! matches. Weeks later Watson added insult to injury again claiming victory in an exhibition episode of the game show… over five members of Congress… combined. Apparently, Watson’s relentless desire to humiliate our species has yet to be satisfied. Karl Volkman of Chicago-based SRV Networks explains how the world’s most conceited robot could give one of our most important professions a run for its money. These upgrades are giving the tech world Watson fever, no diagnosis necessary:
- Instant Diagnosis – If IBM and their new partner WellPoint Inc., insurance are right, the new and improved Watson will be able to analyze a patient’s symptoms and calculate a diagnosis in less than three seconds. Consider it Web MD on anabolic steroids.
- Cancer Treatment – Watson’s most valuable role within the medical field may be his mission to revolutionize our understanding of cancer when select treatment centers across the country begin tapping his capabilities. Experts deny that Watson could eliminate the physician altogether but emphasize his potential to expedite the process of diagnosing cancer patients significantly.
- Abundant Resources – In the few seconds it will take for Watson to perform an analysis, he will have referenced roughly 1 million books or 200 million pages of information. We may have given him a run for his money on Jeopardy!, but don’t even think about challenging this robot to a speed-reading contest.
Please contact me if you would like to set up an interview with tech expert Karl Volkman.
About SRV Network, Inc: SRV Network, Inc. is Microsoft Gold Certified partner that offers a variety of IT services, including a variety of flexible service packages that meet any client requirement, from as-needed technical help to intensive, regular on-site work. They work with all technology platforms and have a broad expertise in a wide variety of technology solutions. They specialize in Network Design and Implementation, Network Maintenance and Monitoring, Disaster Recovery and Prevention and IP Telephony.
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