Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Internet Wise Guys

Tony Soprano isn't the only wiseguy in Jersey who knows how to profit from a little leverage.

So does this guy . . . Ed Whitacre, AT&T's Chairman and CEO.

And he intends to squeeze money out of AT&T's position as one of the owners of America's broadband infrastructure.

Other people counter that there is choice in broadband access, so if a telco or cable gouges customers with expensive packages or discriminates against content that customers wants at high speed, then customers will walk and the telco will lose business. In short, the market will correct any problems.

But, the vast majority of Americans (and probably other countries) have either zero, one or two choices for broadband access. It is a highly concentrated market, and with cable it is a government-created oligopoly.

Concentration of power, as Tony Soprano will tell you, creates multiple opportunities to muscle in on business and extract money from companies afraid of having delivery of their content somehow degraded. That's the name of the game, whether it's construction, trucking or the Internet.

So, are Ed Whitacre, Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg and BellSouth’s CTO Bill Smith future Internet Wise Men or just Internet Wiseguys?

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