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Bad Information -- Rebutting a Shockingly Misinformed NYT Op-ed

I can't remember reading a more misinformed op-ed than today's NYT's "Bad Connections" by David Cay Johnston.

His stated premise that telecommunications competition hasn't fulfilled its promise of lowered prices, more innovation or improved quality since 1974 is apparently blind to obvious commonly-known facts.

In 1974, most all Americans used black rotary-dialed phones, suffered from prohibitively-expensive long distance rates, and phone technology that hadn't changed much for forty years.

Now thanks to competition Americans can:

  • Communicate not only by analog voice calls but also by paid and free: text, email, instant message, voicemail, video chat, video conference, VoIP, Skype, BBM, AIM, iChat, FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook messaging, Google Hangout, among many other competitive offerings;
  • Choose not from just a monopoly phone service, but also choose voice and/or broadband service from the cable company, four national wireless providers, regional wireless providers, multiple satellite providers, and widespread free WiFi hotspots;
  • Choose not just a black rotary-dialed phone but also choose from hundreds of types of cellular phones, smart-phones, tablets, notebooks, ultrabooks, laptops, desktops, cars, appliances, sold by a multitude of competing retailers and providers;
  • Enjoy plummeting prices: long distance has transformed from prohibitively-expensive service to a free feature, local service from a paid monthly service to a free app, and the cellular cost per minute and the broadband cost per megabyte have steadily plummeted from competition and innovation; and
  • Enjoy $350b in wireless private capital investments that have the U.S. leading in 4G wireless adoption and the $100+b of cable private capital investments that near-ubiquitously enable broadband speeds of 100 Mbs.

In sum, Mr Johnston should ask: the 70% of Americans that no longer use legacy local phone service; the nearly 300 million Americans that now use wireless service; and the 80 million Americans that now use broadband service, whether or not telecommunications competition hasn't fulfilled its promise of lowered prices, more innovation or improved quality since 1974?

The facts prove Mr. Johnston is shockingly misinformed.

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