Monday, September 28, 2009

Universal Service bites the dust

The old Bell Telephone system had a corporate policy of universal service. Which meant running wires all over helangon to service remote farms and cabins. Bell figured universal service enhanced the worth of a telephone. Even if the remote farms never made enough calls to pay off the cost of running the wire, it was worth it in the long run. The ability to telephone anyone, no matter how far out of town they were, made possession of a telephone more valuable to everyone. Plus it is fair to offer phone service to those of us who live out of town.
Nothing last forever. The Bell system, after massive breakups, last-for-ever court cases, and a blizzard of name changes to confuse the customer, gave up on universal service. They found a bigger sucker.
Enter Fairpoint. The Bell guys (now calling themselves Verizon) figured out that providing phone service to the boonies of NH, ME, and VT was an overall loser. They offered to sell the losing phone systems to Fairpoint for an stiff sum of money. Fairpoint fell for it hook line and sinker. They borrowed a huge stack of money, at 11% if memory serves, and bought the farm.
Chickens come home to roost. Fairpoint is loosing money. Their stock has dropped from $9 to $0.90. They probably will declare bankruptcy. The Public Utility Commissions of all three states went along with this disaster.
Let's hope my phone continues to give dial tone. If it quits, I buy a cell phone.

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