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AT&T, T-Mobile, and monopolies
In the past few days, I’ve seen a lot of rage over the coming merger of AT&T and T-Mobile here in the states. Most of the anger has been swirling around the idea of monopolies and an increasing reduction in choice for consumers. But here’s my question: how do you avoid “monopolies” like this, and still provide the kind of bandwidth and service that a country of 300 million people over 3,794,101 square miles requires?
Unfortunately, I think the answer will bother a lot of people. I think the answer is Net Neutrality. Or more specifically, a government issued and regulated mandate to build out spectrum that everyone in the industry can use and no one can wholly own. That means that companies like Verizon and AT&T would have to compete on real things like phones, features, and pricing… instead of how much land they grabbed. It also means we need a government to act for its people, not lobbyists and big business.
Now of course, this sounds scary and foreign (literally) to a lot of people — but cell service is quickly moving from a luxury to a necessity (some might argue the move has already occurred), and if you want to blanket the USA, as a private company you basically have to have a monopoly. So either we need an override, a bigger force that allows a real free market play (which means we have to give up a little free market for just a short bit), or all of the carriers suddenly wake up and want to play nice to build out a shared spectrum.
But that seems unrealistic. I don’t think we can have our cake and eat it too. I don’t think the carriers will work together, and I don’t think we can let 25 different carriers have 25 different spectrums — that’s ultimately bad for business and the end user. I know this is a more complicated idea that requires bigger brains than mine to be tackled, but I also know (or at least strongly feel) that it’s something that needs to happen if we’re going to move forward from a technological standpoint. We need something better, something smarter. But is there any way we can remove politics and greed from this debate and actually do what’s best for human beings for once? I don’t see that on the horizon just yet.
The Ethics of Internet Monopolies
Note: The original topic for this blog was cyber addiction and was assigned by the professor of the class for which I am writing this blog. However, in a surprise twist, we have been assigned new topics. From now on, the topic for this blog will be the ethics of business on the web.
Second note: This blog deals with the monopolization of the internet. I use Google as an example of a company that could possibly do this. This is merely an example. This is a hypothetical situation that would come in the future and any web company with a large internet presence could be responsible for it. For this blog, I have chosen Google due its popularity. In no way do I mean this as an attack on Google.
The emergence of the internet as a new arena of connection and communication has created a new type of business – e-commerce. However, this new branch of business requires a new branch of ethics to match it.
One of the ways that businesses make money on the web is by getting underneath other companies.(1) For example, Google, in its rapid expansion, appears to be trying to become the ‘one-stop shop’ for internet use. Have a question? Google it! Want to connect with a friend? Use your Gmail account and send an e-mail or send a message to someone in your circles on Google+. Google can help you edit documents in a group, create a site, keep a calendar, manage photos, find directions, translate phrases, use scholarly resources, blog, and much more.(2) Users can do almost any activity that they want to do on the internet through Google. Google has also entered the smartphone business with their Android technology and entered the laptop business with their recently announced Chromebook.(3)(4) Google has also involved itself in your usage of other sites, like YouTube. If you log onto any Google service and then go to YouTube, your searches and the videos you watch will be connected to your Google account.(5) Google has already successfully gotten underneath a lot of internet services. They have become important to the internet as we know it; if they continue to get underneath other internet services, they will be integral.
This conglomeration of your internet activities is convenient. There is no need to remember a dozen usernames and passwords. Activities in one branch of the Google Empire are easily related and compatible to another branch. However, this full-service Google could be considered a monopoly of the internet. A monopoly is defined as “the domination of a commercial market by only one supplier, worldwide or in a particular region.”(6)
One of the great aspects of the internet is that it is a new frontier where anyone can contribute and make an impact. Anyone can create a website or web service and affect us. The action of getting underneath other businesses would make it difficult for small companies or small websites to gain footing in the ‘internet business’ and make the impact that they hope to make. When the internet becomes the vehicle for just a few companies, we lose what is so great, unique and diverse about the internet. It is not ethical for large, internet based companies to push out all the other hopefuls and monopolize the internet.
Currently, there are a few court cases that deal with the monopolization of computers and the internet.(7) However, the laws that kept our economy free from monopolies in the 20th century are not always applicable to modern technologies. While we wait for the laws to catch up to the technology, it is the ethical responsibility of companies with an internet presence to review their expansion of services to ensure that they are not creating a monopoly. Companies do not have to stunt themselves economically, but it is their ethical responsibility to ensure that they are not stunting other companies from expanding and creating an internet presence.
As users of the internet, it is also our responsibility to ensure that this medium does not become the tool of a singular company. As convenient as it is to use one company as our portal to the web, we must also be open to trying new sites, services, and companies. Finding a website that is cool and new is a great feeling and helps to ensure that the internet remains a place where new companies and sites can become popular and make an impact.
The internet is the medium of the people. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that it remains an ethical place to conduct business.
dreams are born out of realizations
Today was not a good day. Knowing that, it was also a big day for me. My eyes have been opened to an issue - food. Where does it come from? Not just the market, but WHERE. Where was it produced, where was it handled, and HOW. After seeing chickens too genetically modified to stand on the feces that cover the only sun-untouched floor they will ever see in their short lives, to cows being spewed out onto conveyer belts and then cleansed with ammonia, I have had enough. It’s bad to see this happening, but worse to acknowledge the fact that companies do this for a profit, and don’t want to stop. They care about how much money they can make, not our well-being as a society. The cherry on top of these actualizations is that most of us don’t know, or don’t care to listen. Today, after being physically nauseated by the facts, I learn I can no longer eat my lean cuisine composed of chicken and noodles. “People were born to eat meat”, “I could never go without meat, it’s a natural part of who I am” Are what I heard. But what if they knew that the meat they eat has in some way been genetically modified, abused, or not processed correctly? Is it still natural? Is it even healthy? The truth is we trust in our system way too much. Our so-called FDA has attempted to shut down farmers who choose to go all-natural and healthy. They have attempted to shut down farmers who take a step back and think, “Hey, are cows actually supposed to be fed corn? How will genetically modified produce affect us in the future?” I have a dream. I will get my Phd in nutrition and change the way we process, distribute, and eat what we call “food”. In my future, healthy will no longer be only open to the upper middle class. Healthy will be available to everyone, and it will be cheaper than the crap we are ingesting on a regular basis today. I love meat. I want to be able to enjoy it and not wondering in which way it was raised and processed. I want to be ensured there will be no E. coli in my dinner thank you very much. Monopolizing corporations beware, my dream has been realized and I will not stop until it comes to be a reality.
Monopolies Commission: Trade Unions To Control Division ! http://newish.info/53854-monopolies-commission-trade-unions-to-control-division
More on free markets, monopolies and corporatism....
Statists just can’t help themselves falling into the trap where they imagine that a free market inevitably leads to monopolies.
It doesn’t. It’s a myth, a classic case of the intellectual inversion whereby the market is distorted due to state intervention, and the market is then blamed for the the resulting distortion.
True monopolies are creations of the state; there has been no company in history that has been able to maintain exclusive domain over production or provision of a given good or service without the assistance of the state. If true monopolies offend you, then it’s government intervention you should abhor. The state may establish its own monopolies, as with the pre-privatisation British Airways, British Telecom or the old agricultural marketing boards, where other parties are prohibited by law from entering the relevant field. The state may confer monopoly status on a chosen private firm by issuing a charter or an exclusive franchise (as with the post-privatisation British Airways, British Telecom….); or the state may boost favoured firms into positions of market dominance by means of subsidies, tariffs, quotas and other forms of artificial assistance and protection, which kill the competition that would keep corporations more honest.
That is a true coercive monopoly.
That is state capitalism.
That is what you should be angry about.
President Praises Law Regulating Monopolies ! http://newish.info/82238-president-praises-law-regulating-monopolies
On privately-minted currency.
“People made their own money. They made it, wrote it, stamped it, or cut it out as the case might be. They made it in whatever quantity suited the need or the impulse of the movement, out of whatever medium they found most convenient, and emblazoned it with whatever device, portrait or motto they fancied. They passed it on to whoever would take it and then made some more. Not only did the United States have a private coinage, it had dozens, at one point hundreds, of private coinages simultaneously. […]
[Samuel Higley] lowered the ‘price’ or denomination of his coppers. In fact, he abandoned it altogether, and struck coins labelled only, ‘Value me as you please / I am good copper.’ Then, presumably, Higley and the Connecticut publican struck a bargain for ‘good copper,’ and all imbibed happily ever after. […]
A particularly popular gambit was to incorporate ‘not one cent’ somewhere in the design to avoid the possibility of running afoul of the counterfeiting laws, and at the same time (by putting the ‘not’ in very small letters) indicate the denomination.”
William C. Wooldridge.