Can We Stop AT&T From Acquiring T-Mobile?

Bell SystemBig news the other day, AT&T is about to acquire T-Mobile. Internet rage ensues. It was only a matter of time before someone started a petition, one of which made it to the front page on reddit.com:

Please sign the petition to actively stop AT&T from becoming a huge monopoly and saving our right to choose

Short history debrief: First AT&T was Ma Bell, then the Federal government broke that up into several companies which created fierce competition in the market. Many of those companies grouped together again under the same umbrella, in one legal way or another. Several years later and the Ma Bell antics are in full swing once again; in 2005 it was announced that Cingular Wireless, a joint venture between AT&T and BellSouth, would be sold under the AT&T name. And now AT&T is after T-Mobile.

If history taught us anything, wasn’t it that we can’t allow corporations to monopolize an entire industry?

AT&T

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For instance, of the seven Baby Bells originally created by the AT&T breakup in 1984, four of them — Ameritech, Bell South, Pacific Telesis and South Western Bell — are now back under the AT&T umbrella. Of the remaining three, Verizon now owns what used to be Bell Atlantic and Nynex, while Qwest bought U.S. West back in 2000.

“The local phone companies have all merged now to the point where there are only three left and they operate in areas where they are huge regional fiefdoms,” says Ben Scott, the policy director for Free Press. “We broke up a monopoly and it’s basically reconstructed itself without the regulations that used to apply.”

Source: Brad Reed, NetworkWorld

This news comes just days after it was announced that AT&T would be placing bandwidth caps on consumer broadband subscribers! Starting to see an evil pattern here?

What about the recent news that AT&T customers’ Facebook data got temporarily routed through networks in China and South Korea? Yeah, that means during this period of time when AT&T wasn’t routing network traffic properly, everything you did on Facebook went through the networks of some of the most malicious people on the planet.

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What could have happened with your data? Most likely absolutely nothing. Yet, China is well known for it’s harmful networking practices by limiting network functionality and spying on its users, and when your data is flowing over their network, your data could be treated as any Chinese citizens’. Does that include capturing your session ID information, personal information, emails, photos, chat conversations, mappings to your friends and family, etc? One could only speculate, however it’s possible.

This brings up a lot of questions:

  • Should Facebook and or AT&T have notified their customers that their personal information was flowing over a network that they may not trust?
  • Should Facebook enable SSL on all accounts by default?
  • Was this actually a privacy breach or just the way the Internet functions?
  • Does Facebook have an ethical responsibility to buy additional IP connectivity to major broadband and mobile networks to prevent routing mishaps?
  • Is it time to focus on new options within BGP to prevent high profile sites from routing to non-authenticated networks?

    Source: Barret Lyon, blyon.com

So can we stop AT&T from acquiring T-Mobile? Probably not, but signing the petition couldn’t hurt anyone, if anything it brings awareness to a younger generation who some day might have the chance to impose some real change.

Follow Up and Relevant News pertaining to this article

U.S. Government Files to Block Proposed AT&T/T-Mobile Merger – Engadget.com (August 31, 2011)

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Oddly enough, T-Mobile and AT&T promised this morning that a total of 5,000 jobs would be hand delivered to the US if the two telcos were allowed to become one…

Source: Engadget

“It’s Time to Break Up AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, and the rest of the Telecoms” – Alternet (April 26, 2011)

Want to know what other people think? Check out the heated discussion on reddit.

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Today, the “communications trust” — AT&T, Verizon and the major cable companies of Comcast and Time Warner — controls the two wires and the wireless networks that link the nation’s homes, businesses, schools and other institutions. The communications trust has failed America. A few examples illustrate this failure:

  • America is now 15th in the world in broadband. While Hong Kong and other countries are rolling out 1 gigabit speed services, America’s average is a mere 5 mbps (i.e., 1,000 mbps = 1 gigabit).
  • Americans paid over $340 billion for broadband upgrades that never happened; by 2010, America should have been completely upgraded with fiber optic services to every home.
  • The FCC approved Comcast’s acquisition of NBC-Universal, foreshadowing a likely wave of integration of transport or carriage and content.
  • Together, AT&T and Verizon control 80 percent of all wireless services and AT&T is now attempting to close down one of the only remaining competitors, T-Mobile.

    Source: Alternet

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