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AT&T: We Own Your Telecom Dollars

If AT&T is allowed to buy BellSouth, the company will have an absolute lock on the telecom market, according to a new study by TNS Telecoms. The firm found that the combined company will control 22% of all consumer telecom dollars and 34% of business telecom dollars.
Having one company control such a broad swath of the market is clearly a bad thing for consumers and businesses, because it will most likely lead to less choice, higher fees, and fewer services.

The wild card in this, though, is VoIP. If cable companies like Comcast are going to survive AT&T's push into video delivery, they'll need to add phone service. And the cheapest and best way for them to do that is with VoIP, which Comcast is already pushing heavily.

There are charges that Comcast is purposely degrading the quality of competitive VoIP service on its network, although not every agrees it is doing that. But whether the company is doing it or not, the temptation will be there, because VoIP may be the key to its survival.

Will AT&T degrade VoIP over its network, or charge extra fees for competing services? It hasn't said yet. But considering that it plans to charge Google and others extortion fees if those sites want adequate bandwidth, it wouldn't surprise me.