I’m not a satellite subscriber, though, so the Sirius XM thing hasn’t affected me terribly—I’m really just upset with the FCC for kowtowing to big business. The Verizon/Alltel marriage, though, is a much bigger deal. It seems the FCC believes a very small, very antiquated group of bloated businesses can serve the customer better than a competitive marketplace. What’s going on in the wireless telco industry, anyway? AT&T becomes Cingular then gets swallowed by AT&T again (I still have trouble wrapping my head around that one), Sprint and Nextel join forces to become something more horrible than the two companies ever achieved separately, Virgin gobbles Helio and now Verizon has sucked up Alltel. I liked Alltel. Though I never once used the service, the company was the only spark of anything resembling competition in the wretched oligopoly that is the United States mobile telecommunications industry. As a Verizon customer myself, I’d love a piece of that My Circle plan Alltel has, which allows you to call selected people for free no matter what network they’re on. I’d also love it if Verizon ditched the God-awful “Can you hear me now?” guy for the lesser of two evils: Alltel’s blonde himbo of a mascot, Chad. But, you can bet both are in Verizon’s crosshairs as I write this.
The point to my rambling is this: Though we’re getting creamed by a recession, our government is smothering competition and fostering monopolies (or monopoly-like market conditions) by allowing big business to expand through merger and acquisition. And, I haven’t even touched on the regional monopolies enjoyed by cable operators since the 1996 Telecommunications Act—that’s a whole other topic for another day. But, I do wonder what’s next . . . two or three firms in charge of the Internet? Whether we’re talking satellite radio, cellphones, cable or anything else, it’s clear that Washington has no love for the American consumer. Let’s forget better products, improved technology and more consumer choice for a minute. The correlation between competition and lower prices is an obvious one, and I for one could use some lower prices right about now.
Are you as troubled as I am by these recent mergers, or do you think some good will come of them? Do you have a different forecast for the future of Sirius XM? Hit up the comments section and share!single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.