Boo-Hoo Ma Bell

11:30 AM -- Just call her Ma Sensitive.

From The Philter's filings file, an SEC document filed by BellSouth or AT&T or SBC or maybe all three on the subject of the "Ma Bell" moniker that the crusty old phone giant has rejected. If I were Mark Sullivan, I'd say AT&T bristles at the mention of "Ma Bell", but then I'd edit myself. Anyway, here's the filing:

Like the Candlestick Telephone, The Venerable “Ma Bell” Remains Firmly in the Past

The AT&T/BellSouth merger will create a competitor for the 21st century — one able to provide IP-based broadband, video, and voice services over a wired and wireless infrastructure in competition with myriad other providers in a converged telecommunications marketplace.

Yet, some have argued that the merger is recreating the “Ma Bell” of the past. That could not be more wrong.

  • Ma Bell was the monopoly provider of largely circuit-switched telephone service — Plain Old Telephone Service or POTS, as it was known — during much of the last century. The monopoly was legally-mandated, granted by the government and any competition in those markets was a violation of this law.
  • Cellular service, VoIP, Cable telephony, WiFi and many other technologies that today give consumers numerous choices for communications services, did not exist then.
  • Ma Bell’s customers had one choice for telephone service, Ma Bell, which provided local and long distance services to virtually every customer in its service territory and long distance service to virtually every customer in America.
  • Ma Bell manufactured its own network equipment as well as the only equipment it permitted its customers to use on their premises.
  • In short, for much of the 20th Century, Ma Bell provided the only significant means of telecommunications for most American consumers and businesses, over a monopoly infrastructure that it owned and operated, using equipment that it built and supplied, under terms that it set working with government officials in a highly regulated environment, and without risk — much less reality — of any meaningful competition.

  • The merger of AT&T and BellSouth will not, and can not, recreate the Ma Bell of old.

  • To the contrary, the merger will create a company better able to compete across a range of converging and competitive services, including video entertainment, broadband, wireless, and voice services.
  • The era of the POTS monopoly is dead. The 1996 Telecommunications Act finally abolished this monopoly system. As a result, the Ma Bell of old, which was a legal monopoly and had absolutely no competition in the local and long distance markets for decades can not, and will not be created as a result of the AT&T and BellSouth merger.
  • There are now more wireless numbers than wireline numbers. There are many powerful and developing competitors, including wireless, cable T.V., VoIP, and broadband-over-powerline providers, other local exchange and interexchange carriers, equipment vendors and systems integrators, and foreign carriers. Consumers can choose how to communicate.
  • Indeed, the combined company will be a new entrant competing against entrenched incumbents to introduce competition in video services (and other services).

  • This is not, and will never be, Ma Bell.

    Dear Ma Bell,
    Don’t be such a baby. You sound like you've got a candlestick phone shoved up your collective keisters. You're a big company with a rich history and you should be proud of that. Now shut yer yap before I start calling you EMBARQ. — Phil Harvey, Landline Phone Editor, Light Reading

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