Telecom: Thrown for a Loop

In the name of competition, the Baby Bells say, they're forced to subsidize their rivals

For Will Harpest, a third-grade teacher who lives in Lisle, Ill., the ad campaign was the last straw. A longtime customer of one of the big phone companies known as Baby Bells, Harpest, 54, had grown weary of having to deal with separate phone bills for local and long-distance calls. But, like most Americans, he couldn't do much about it until recently. Sure, he could change long-distance carriers and chase the lowest rates as often as he pleased, but he was still a virtual captive of SBC Ameritech, the sole owner of the prized last mile of copper wire into his...

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