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August 6th, 2005

Fewer Choices – Hooray!

Americans like choices. That’s why it’s incredibly good news that the FCC has voted to essentially kill competition in the DSL market. Hooray! Fewer choices!

Oh, wait. No – that’s bad.

This is a duplicate of an earlier ruling by the FCC that cable companies didn’t have to open their lines to competition. They’re just saying the same thing now applies to the phone network, which was originally paid for by taxpayers. Sweet!

Moreover, this echoes the time when DirecTV wanted to buy Echostar (Dish Network) to form one satellite company for the entire US to tackle Comcast and its stranglehold on cable.

It’s all getting really silly and a little scary. If you want to pay for TV, in most areas you have three choices – Comcast (or Cox or whatever), DirecTV, or Dish Network – but if you can’t get a dish, you have one: the cable company. If you want high-speed access you used to have choices for a DSL carrier. Now, you basically won’t. DSL versus cable. Satellite versus cable. And Hulk Hogan versus cable. I’m wondering when we can drop the pretense that this is free market and is edging really close to a monopoly.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

FROM: snaily
DATE: Saturday August 6, 2005 -- 4:49:12 pm
i dont like having so many choices. not only with dsl, but with everything! i went to the store yesterday to buy toothpaste, and it took me like 30 minutes to find one i wanted. there are so many brands of stuff! i say there should only be two, three at the most. but then again, that wouldnt be america.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Saturday August 6, 2005 -- 6:29:26 pm
But what if there was just one toothpaste company, just one floss company, and just one mouthwash company?

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday August 7, 2005 -- 3:40:49 pm
Ah, that's easy, Paul. Then you could have huge class-action lawsuits against The Toothpaste Company... which would be settled out of court by having thousands of tubes of toothpaste sent free to schools...

Anti-monopoly laws have been slipping in the phone/cable/bank industries for a long time now. I'm surprised we are not already back in the Ma Bell state.

Although for cable, we have been for a long time. Like it's possible to compete with the entrenched cable company that owns their own lines... feh.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Sunday August 7, 2005 -- 3:42:38 pm
There almost is anyway. But, the few hugely dominant companies that produce items like toothpaste, soap, antiperspirant and mouthwash produce so much ostensible variety in order to take up shelf space that pairing down to one or two companies probably would not relieve the oppression of too much choice.

Perhaps, if there really were only one company, then we could hypothetically go to the grocery store and see the toothpaste aisle filled with thousands of identical packages containing one-size-fits-all "Monopoly Brand Dentifrice."

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