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Is Ma Bell Killing America’s Technology Leadership Position?

Better stated, “Are all the various telecom and cable companies so focused on protecting their own interests that they’re killing off true innovation?” I think so. Read this article, The Phone Companies Still Don’t Get It, by Mark Gimein, and see if you don’t agree.

We not only see core attributes of Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma here, but also what I would call the related problem of The Incumbent’s Monopoly. I’m starting to get a better appreciation for why I don’t have a telecom-based alternative to my overpriced cable TV subscription. These guys have an army of lobbyists and other weapons at their disposal to make sure no technology will ever get widespread support/approval without them getting a cut of the resulting revenue.

Here are a few excerpts from Gimein’s article that really turned my stomach:

One of the ways in which these companies (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) are very different from the old phone monopoly is that while the original AT&T had a world-class research operation, its successors don’t.

Isn’t it a little odd, for example, to hear the CEO of a company the size of AT&T talk about needing to get bigger to have the resources to innovate?

And increasingly their approach has put the telcos on the wrong side of technological innovation, leaving them in the position of protecting their investments in their networks from the encroachment of new ideas.

No wonder other countries have better and more widespread access to faster broadband. As long as we let these fat cats call the shots we jeopardize America’s longstanding position as a leader in the technology space. Here’s to hoping enough of the little guys will continue plugging away on this front and change the playing field.


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