Furthest Right

Government-Sanctioned Duopoly: Pick Verizon or Comcast

I have Verizon Wireless for cell phone service and based on their customer service over the years, I see no reason to give them any more money. I also read an online blog about their horrible customer service and was convinced to stick to Comcast wherever possible. Verizon owns the telephone lines (DSL service where available and telephone service), and a new infrastructure they spent billions throwing into the ground, called FiOS; Comcast owns the cable lines (cable TV, cable internet, digital voice through Verizon’s phone lines).

Problem is, those are my choices. I’m not one for too many choices – go into a furniture mega-store and try to figure out exactly what you want within an hour; I tried that recently and it didn’t work out so well.  We recently got the itch for a land line, more for security reasons than a need to call people, and here were our options:

  • Verizon: $39.99 per month for unlimited national dialing with a few features (Caller ID, Voicemail, etc.), or $29.99 per month for a local calling plan that allows us to call towns we border for free, and 5 cents per minute otherwise.
  • Comcast: $39.99 per month for unlimited national dialing with a bunch of features, a few more than Verizon but not much, or $29.99 per month for local calling to towns near us.

$40 a month for national; $30 a month for local. Most economists would call that price fixing, but since we have VoIP networks now, technically there’s competition (even though having a land line from actual telephone wires tends to be superior to internet-based phone services).

That means suddenly our “services” bill nearly doubles.  It’s interesting just how much people are willing to pay for TV and internet services these days, with the land line being a mere afterthought. The land line is now priced at a premium because if you want an old-fashioned land line, you have two choices, and the prices are the same. This is your government at work: years of regulation and then semi-deregulation allowed the “haves” to continue to own the infrastructure, so why should they even allow competition?

This article does a good job of explaining the problems with two companies controlling these services that most want.


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