Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Deregulation itself wasn't successful. Rather it was only the first step of forced unbundling that spurred investment.

The second step was then removing the restrictions on the public networks after they'd been privatized - national telcom policy being redeclared such that "competition" between incumbent phone and incumbent cable was good enough. The CLECs all but disappeared.

Twenty years ago, basic phone service from Verizon was $15/mo. Now it's $75. The only success is for the investors that successfully looted the public networks.

Competition with Comcast only came to town when the municipal electric company decided to build out fiber. When the only source of competition is the local de jure government, one is hard pressed to claim that is a functional market.

> Twenty years ago, basic phone service from Verizon was $15/mo. Now it's $75. The only success is for the investors that successfully looted the public networks.

Pre-deregulation, local telephone service was artificially cheap because carriers were required to cross-subsidize it from long-distance charges. So the price of phone service 20 years ago was never really something that was economically feasible standing alone. Moreover, as copper subscribers are dwindling, the per-subscriber cost of maintaining the whole network is rapidly increasing.

Standalone copper phone service, makes no economic sense. When a storm knocks down a telephone line, the truck roll costs the same whether you're delivering $15/month phone service or $150/month triple play. (And these aren't gig-economy workers doing that repair--the average Verizon union employee receives $130,000 in wages and benefits: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/business/verizon-workers-...) The cost of the truck roll, moreover, is now amortized over far fewer paying subscribers in the neighborhood, versus back when everyone subscribed to copper landline service.

Verizon will sell you 100/100 FiOS for $40/month ($55/month after the 12-month promotional period ends). Combine that with VoIP and Netflix/Hulu, and you're paying a lot less than you used to back in the day for local phone + long distance + cable TV.

I'll give you that the per-subscriber costs of copper will naturally go up as it's phased out. On the other hand, when I was in a different market that still had a functioning CLEC, for $40/mo I had a nice copper landline and VDSL2 (12/2 Mbit compared to Verizon's 3/384).

> Verizon will sell you 100/100 FiOS for $40/month

No, no they won't. That only happens in areas with functioning competition. You seem to be sorely missing this.

In order for FIOS to be built out in most areas, Verizon would require public money. Why should that infrastructure then belong to privately-owned Verizon rather than staying with the public entities that paid for it?

> No, no they won't. That only happens in areas with functioning competition. You seem to be sorely missing this

FWIW I live in an apartment building and get 100/100 fios for $44.99 a month. I think it’s supposed to be 39.99 but for some reason my autopay discount isn’t registering and I haven’t bothered contacting customer support to see if I can fix it.

There is zero competition here, the apartment is only wired for FiOS so the only other options I would have would be congested 4G and maybe a satellite dish.

I’m not really sure why fios offers such a low price when they are a monopoly...

The $15/month was just local service. You had to pay per minute for long distance calls.

That $75/month now included unlimited calling as well as texts and probably has some data as well.

I was comparing copper. AFAIK you can't text over copper.

The $15/mo was metered service for even local calls, which I would happily go back to. Cell ($10/mo) and VOIP (effectively free) manage the bulk of calling just fine.

Obviously the plan is to move off the copper, to stop getting robbed. But that isn't a justification of the robbers.

I'll note that the involvement here is mainly due to my older father, which is the demographic really meant to be squeezed by this rent extraction.

I think the general thrust of your argument has validity but it is weakened a bit by a poor example.

None of the things that have happened, post deregulation, were impossible to do before, but there was no incentive to do them. A copper line, using either ADSL or SDSL signaling can do anything a wireless signal can, text, data, voice, all at the same time.

What deregulation did was two fold, first it forced the legacy phone company (Bell Telephone, and then the broken up "baby" Bells) to provide access on demand to the copper line, and it allowed private companies to then provide services over that line. New companies were created like Copper Mountain which, under the new options of deregulation, converted "POTS"[1] lines into DSL lines with additional features. The "baby" bells, had to upgrade their networks in order to compete. As part of that upgrade, they needed much more network capacity between their central offices (one copper pair could now host 3 or 4 voice calls, be sending video for example) and much of the late 90's saw miles and miles of new fiber optic networks laid in across the country.

Deregulation also gave phone companies the option of raising their rates without the strict controls of the regulatory infrastructure of "pubic" monopolies, and they sought to recoup their investments in creating new infrastructure by raising rates.

[1] "Plain Old Telephone Service" - aka a switched, voice only network with one channel per line.

The quip about texting over copper was only in response to a presumption that I was comparing a $75/mo cell phone plan, when I was directly referencing Verizon's landline price in 2019. It was actually $85/mo before I called up to attempt to drop DSL (no savings from that, actually. I'm resisting the urge to plug the DSL modem into the router to play with multihoming, to not further increase the dependencies on this copper).

I'll admit their absolute lowest price isn't $75/mo, but $40/mo for "local only". Which I would actually accept, but for caller ID (a modern necessity) being $20/mo on top of that. The whole setup wreaks of gouging a captive market, which effectively describes why I am in this position.

I do fondly remember DSL from Speakeasy/Covad. My point is most CLECs have effectively gone out of business, seemingly due to unbundling going out of fashion and never being applied to coax networks. Although I will say MegaPath remains a great resource for enumerating all services available at an address, the prices will just be at the business level.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact