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Column 'short-sighted,' SBC employee says


Column 'short-sighted,' SBC employee says

To the editor:

As an SBC employee, I must respond to Bill Milligan's short-sighted column last week on phone competition in Missouri — House Bill 142.

SBC has no problem with competition, whether it's high-speed Internet — broadband — dial-up, local or long-distance service.

We agree customers need to have choices, prices need to remain affordable, and quality of service are important.

However, let's be sure competition is true market-based competition and that all players are treated the same. Cable companies — i.e., Charter — deliver an overwhelming majority — 70 percent — of high-speed Internet service in Missouri and throughout the country.

Yet they are not regulated nor are they required to share any part of their service with competitors.

There's nothing to keep cable companies from raising their high-speed Internet service prices, especially if competitors like SBC are not able to deliver the service in a profitable manner.

I'm not sure Mr. Milligan or other Mis-souri consumers are familiar with current regulations on the local service front. SBC is required to lease its local network — i.e., local loop, switches, etc. — to "competitors" like AT&T, WorldCom, Sprint, etc. at prices that are well below our costs.

These "competitors" then turn around and resell local phone service to Missouri consumers at marked-up prices. These "competitors" are not required to maintain those resold lines. When the line goes down, it's SBC who sends out the repair man or woman. When the network needs to be upgraded, it's SBC that must bear the associated cost burden.

To give Mr. Milligan an analogy, suppose the Call operated under the same rules as SBC. The Call would bear all the financial burden of assembling and publishing a newspaper, but competitors could simply buy the paper at a bargain wholesale rate and resell it at a profit.

That's not competition; that's what I would call "freeloading." By the way, SBC employs more than 13,000 people in Missouri. Many of SBC's key data centers and information technology — IT — operations are in St. Louis and the number of IT employees are increasing, not decreasing.

So when Mr. Milligan and others cry about competition and laws that are unfair, let's keep things in perspective. Let's make sure we have real competition and all parties are treated the same.

Then let quality of service and price de-termine who wins.

Don Pavlacic

Oakville

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