HUNG UP ON COMPETITION

CABLE TELEVISION, UTILITIES, RAILROADS--EVERYONE WAS GOING TO PROVIDE LOCAL PHONE SERVICE. BUT UNTIL AT&T AND THE BABY BELLS ARE CLEARED TO COMPETE HEAD ON, CUSTOMERS WILL STILL PAY MONOPOLY PRICES

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was supposed to turn the phone companies into a pack of hungry competitors, willing to tear one another to pieces for the privilege of providing you with low-cost phone service. AT&T and its long-distance rivals were to charge into the $100 billion market for local calling, freeing the seven Baby Bells to enter the $70 billion long-distance fray.

Instead all we've heard is howling. Last week MCI Communications was baying at Wall Street, explaining that it will lose $800 million this year trying to bust into local phone service with nothing to show for it. MCI...

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