Category Archives: telecom

Day 17 Of My Captivity

I’m starting to wonder if this all hasn’t been one big psychological experiment conducted by our Corporate Overlords to see just how far the average American customer can be pushed before they go postal.

On the other hand, Starbucks has really great coffee cake.

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Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, telecom

Greetings From The 9th Circle of AT&T Uverse Telecom Hell

Day 13 of our captivity and we are completely out of service — all services. No internet, no TV, no telephone. It’s been this way for 48 hours.

We’ve had six people come over to our house to try to figure out what’s wrong, including our personal electrical contractors, who AT&T told us to call because they couldn’t figure out our phones. Lord knows how much that’s going to cost me. And now it appears it was all entirely unnecessary, anyway.

Yesterday we had a guy I call the Telecommunications Whisperer come over, ostensibly to give us a new box but after 15 minutes here he determined the problem was a fault in the line from the street. “They should have run you a new line from the start,” he told me. Gee, you don’t say.

Here’s where it gets good: as soon as the line guy arrived, all of the electronics in the house seemed to rejoice, because I was immediately back in service. TV popped on, emails started flooding the in-box, and I got a dial tone on the phone. I went out to ask the guy what he did and he said, “Nothing, I just got here. I’m just getting ready to run some tests.”

I’m starting to think we don’t need a repairman but an exorcist.

By the time the guy left at 6 pm, new line installed, everything was dead. No phones, no internet, no TV, no nuthin’. On the phone with AT&T I was told I need a new ONT box. But — here’s where it gets good — apparently Nashville has a shortage of ONT boxes. They have to order one and who knows when FedEx or UPS can deliver one!

I just give up. I really do. Each new person leaves me in worse shape than the last guy. No one knows what to do so they’re just replacing everything to see what sticks.

I’m done. Finished. Come and take your crap, put my old box back, give me back my old DSL line, and let me get on with my life.

I mean, seriously. We put a man on the moon 45 years ago. Today I can’t even get a telecom service installed.

I tell you this long saga as a way of explaining why I’ve been out of pocket the last few days and comment moderation has been slow to nonexistent. I don’t know when I’ll be back on line. I’m writing this from Starbucks.

Be well.


Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, telecom

Memory Hole

I really am sick and tired of conservatives calling for the fainting couches over stuff happening under Obama which they actively defended when Bush was in office.

Seriously, I’m super busy today, guys? So look, if you want to know what I think about all of this NSA spying crap everyone is acting like is some new thing? Just click on the little tags and categories thingies below? Because I’ve been talking about this since I started blogging, which was like six years ago. It was bad under Bush, it’s bad under Obama, but no one wanted to listen to any of us hippies on the left (and some on the right) who were crying “civil liberties! civil liberties!” back in the day. So stop your fucking whining and Obama blaming now.

Here’s a nice little trip into the memory hole for y’all:

U.S. President George Bush called on Congress Monday night to broaden protection for telecommunications carriers that helped the government monitor phone calls and e-mail.

The Protect America Act, which allows the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists without first obtaining a court warrant, is due to expire Friday and Bush called for its extension as part of his final State of the Union address.

“To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning,” he said in the televised address. “Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on Feb.1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted.”

Failure to extend the legislation won’t just hit the NSA. The telecommunications carriers that worked with the agency despite the lack of court warrants also face privacy lawsuits and an extension to the legislation would provide them legal protection. Bush touched on that point as well.

“Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We’ve had ample time for debate. The time to act is now,” said Bush to applause from mostly Republican members of the audience. Vice President Dick Cheney, seated behind Bush, also applauded the call.

Cheney and the White House last week pushed Congress to extend the act and provide protection for telecom carriers. AT&T and other carriers are facing lawsuits in San Francisco by civil liberties groups and individuals who allege that the surveillance program is illegal.

Earlier Monday, efforts by Republicans to curtail debate in the U.S. Senate and force a vote on an extension to the act failed, and debate is due to resume Tuesday.

Got that? This isn’t some new thing under Obama, it’s something we’ve been talking about for about 10, 11, 12 years now. Since 9/11 at the least. And by the way, that article above is from January 29, 2008. Not only did they want the NSA wiretapping without warrants to continue, the Republicans in the Senate tried to ram it through and were thwarted thanks to the Democrats. As I wrote at the time:

I’m sure the Republicans will be up to their usual screetching about terrorists, but we all know this has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with protecting corporate cronies at Big Telecom. Liberals refer to it as telecom immunity, neocons as “liability protection,” but it all comes down to protecting AT&T and Verizon Wireless from scores of lawsuits because they knowingly broke the law.

Please. Y’all are getting on my last nerve with this IOKIYAR shit. Knock it off. We’re not that stupid.


Filed under corporations, FISA, FISA. telecom immunity, NSA, telecom, telecom immunity, War On Terror, warrantless surveillance

Dump The Dinosaur

Three days without phone/DSL service for the third time this year has me wondering what our Corporate Overlords are smoking. When a repair technician did show up (after 5 pm, thank you very much, when I’m cooking dinner and running to the vet to pick up the dog) he told me he doesn’t even work in the residential service unit, but the residential crews are so backed up, the business teams are working 12 hours of overtime to help them catch up.

This, and the 15-20 minutes of time you have to wait on hold to request service in the first place makes me wonder why the hell AT&T hasn’t, you know, hired more people? I mean, it’s not like we don’t have 8.3% unemployment? Hello? Randall Stephenson may have screwed up on that T-Mobile deal but he still gets $22 million a year; surely he knows that in this day and age, cutting people off from their communication for three days inspires them to look for alternatives.

And then I saw this:

AT&T, which has a total workforce of 252,330 people, has been in negotiations for months with labor unions to cut costs in its landline business, which has declined rapidly in recent years.

Oh! Is feature, not bug. I guess land lines are a communications dinosaur and they’d just as soon we all dumped ours. Sucky service and lame excuses are the m.o. they use to shove customers out the door. In short: AT&T doesn’t want your landline business. They want your cell business.

Okay, AT&T, I got the memo. Readers, please let me know in comments how y’all handle your communications. I only have AT&T so I can get DSL with another (local) company anyway, whom I love. Mr. Beale is still convinced with need a landline phone number, though the only people who call it are his mother and Rachel From Cardholder Services offering me some kind of credit card scam. Rachel calls me a lot and I’d be thrilled to be rid of her, while my mother in law can call our cell phones. We do use the phone line for things like alarm monitoring and on-demand movies, but surely you can get some kind of basic phone service that covers those uses, right?

And what about high-speed cable internet? Anyone use that? Hate Comcast? Love it? Let me know.


Filed under corporations, telecom

AT&T Will Steal Your Women & Eat Your Children

I’m back and Jeeeeezus but that was an ordeal.

I mean seriously, the last straw was at 8 a.m. this morning when my ISP was told by AT&T’s broadband division that they couldn’t get a repairman out to our house until Thursday.

Keep in mind, we’d been without phones since last Wednesday when phone service got knocked out by lightning. Finally, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, at 4:30 on Friday afternoon someone fixed the phones. But when I told them our DSL line was still down they said tough nougies and skedaddled.

So the idea of another four days without internet service just about gave me an aneurism. Needless to say, there was more wailing and rendered clothing until at 11 a.m. a repair truck appeared in the driveway and by noon it was fixed. Apparently a phone jack in the house got zapped, as did some kind of doo-hickey thingie in the box.

But really, I have to ask: why does everything have to be so fucking hard? It’s not just AT&T, it’s every fucking thing. Everything is over complicated these days. And to get anyone’s attention, to get the service you think you’re paying for, you have to scream and yell and make phone calls and be an asshole crazy lady before anyone even bothers to give you the time of day. Why is that?

AT&T’s CEO made $27 million last year, including a $5 million bonus. We have 10% unemployment in this state, people who need jobs like … repairing phone lines. But customers are asked to wait 8 days for repair service? What is this, Paraguay?

Here’s the part I loved. AT&T said they couldn’t talk to me about the broadband service for “legal reasons.” How rich is that? They can hand over my phone records and e-mails to the government without a warrant, but they’re worried about the sanctity of their contract with my ISP?

This is the kind of shit that makes me nuts. Why is it we’re told private enterprise is supposed to be so wonderful and efficient when clearly it’s not? I renewed my car tags last week, and including time at the emissions testing station and the drive to the county clerk’s office the entire thing took an hour. Why are we always told the DMV is so inefficient and we don’t want an agency like that operating our healthcare? If I hadn’t screamed and hollered and gotten all stabby and bitchy I wouldn’t have phone service right now, and would still be another four days out from getting my internet functioning again.

AT&T is trying to buy T-Mobile, so that there’s even less competition on the cellular side. I’m trying to decide why this is supposed to be a good thing. Haven’t we had the notion of competition and the free hand of the market and all that drilled into us from the get-go? Why should we give these inefficient idiots more control of the telecommunications landscape?

I realize no one probably cares about my little kerfuffle with the phone company but I feel like this incident is just emblematic of what’s wrong with the whole country these days. For crying out loud, surely I’m not the only one who has been dicked around by corporate America lately? From insurance companies to the banks and mortgage companies and the electric company to the airlines, and on and on, it just seems like our world is one dominated by soulless idiots who have forgotten that the reason they are in business is to provide goods and services to people, not make themselves obscenely wealthy while treating their customers like dirt.


Filed under corporations, rants, telecom

>The Revolution Won’t Be Twitterized

>Seeing Egypt “turn off” the internet got me wondering: how? And could it happen here?

FastCompany has the goods:

Turns out, it’s pretty easy, at least in Egypt. “At the end of the day, the Internet is a bunch of cables in dimly lit, pretty chilly rooms. A country like Egypt probably has a dozen of these,” explains Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, an Internet security company. “It’s as simple as literally unplugging these devices. From a practical standpoint, it’s more likely a phone call and then making a few changes on the computer to change the configuration.”

It’s simple to make these changes in the country because there are only 10 Internet providers and a centralized government that can quickly order them to yank out the cables. If the providers refuse, they can lose their licenses from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Egypt to restore communications, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated the U.S. position that access to the Internet is a “basic human right.”

Congress has contemplated implementing an Internet “kill switch” at home, for use in emergencies., but it would be more complicated to effect that here, or in Western Europe, where there are more fiber-optic cables and thousands of providers.

Really, the United States only seems to have a handful of providers, almost all of which have already shown themselves to be too happy to capitulate to the government on issues of warrantless wiretaps (ominously, the one who did not alleges NSA retaliation). So it seems to me that yes, it could happen here, easily.

On top of which, reading that Congress has contemplated an internet “kill switch” is very disturbing to me. Stick that in your tricorn hats, patriots!

You know, I’ve always been amused by right-wing fantasies about their beloved “Second Amendment solutions.” It’s like you guys are watching an old movie from 1950 or something. Everyone imagines they’ll be the hero in these teleplays, “Red Dawn”-style, but that’s just hilariously outdated. I once suggested that anyone wanting to take down the government will be writing computer code, not waltzing around guns a-blazing. That’s reality. And if you want to start a revolution, you’ll be doing it on your BlackBerry and your iPhone and YouTube.

Nothing makes that more abundantly clear than seeing how quickly Egyptian authorities pulled the communications plug. They had learned their lesson from last year’s Iran uprisings, after all. Future popular revolts around the world will see similar communications crackdowns, you can bank on that. So while a bunch of people pretend they are defending democracy by waltzing around outside presidential rallies with guns strapped to their legs, they might be better off paying attention to their internet access.

Just a thought.

Adding … I just remembered I know some ham radio enthusiasts who have always considered themselves the “last defense” in case of an emergency, disaster or uprising … Now I see why.


Filed under protests, telecom

>Maybe It’s The Slightly-Askew Talk Express?

>It seems John McCain’s “straight talk” is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

McCain vigorously denies doing any favors for clients of his friend/telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman. But one of those clients, Paxson Communications, refutes McCain’s claims:

Broadcaster Lowell “Bud” Paxson yesterday contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson’s behalf.

Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters in 1999 to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson’s quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station.

Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, likely attended the meeting in McCain’s office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting.

Oops. Oh, Mr. Ethics! We’re so disappointed! Interestingly, McCain himself earlier admitted to meeting with Paxson:

McCain himself in a deposition in 2002 acknowledged talking to Paxson about the Pittsburgh sale. Asked what Paxson said in the conversation, McCain said that Paxson “had applied to purchase this station and that he wanted to purchase it. And that there had been a numerous year delay with the FCC reaching a decision. And he wanted their approval very bad for purposes of his business.”

The deposition was taken in litigation over the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law filed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The contradiction in the deposition was first reported by Newsweek yesterday afternoon.

Ooops again.

Something else I found interesting was that in addition to Paxson Communications, one of Vicki Iseman’s other clients is the dreadfully right-wing and partisan Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair, of course, is the broadcasting company that ordered its 62 TV stations to air the anti-John Kerry propaganda piece “Stolen Honor” two weeks before the 2004 election. How ironic that the same folks accusing the New York Times of intentionally waiting for John McCain to sew up the nomination before dropping its Vicki Iseman bombshell thought it perfectly fine for Sinclair to broadcast its lies right before the actual election.

Bloggers note that Paxson Communications also jumped on board the “Stolen Honor” bandwagon, and McCain himself refused to denounce “Stolen Honor.” He’s such a maverick! EmptyWheel at Firedoglake has more on this, and I urge you to hop over there and read the post because it raises a lot of questions.

And let me add, none of this would be quite the big deal it is if John McCain hadn’t spent the past 10 years presenting himself as some kind of “new” politician with unimpeachable integrity. We all know that Republicans are in bed with big industry and lobbysists, and finding another one doing favors for his friends is, well, expected. But McCain has said he learned his lesson after the Keating Five scandal. Guess not.

(h/t, Atrios.)

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Filed under John McCain, telecom, Vicki Iseman

>McCain In Bed With Lobbyist?


Bloggers wonder: What did Mike Huckabee know, and when did he know it?


Get your minds out of the gutter. I meant that as a metaphor, sillies.

It’s inevitable that people will latch onto this story’s more prurient elements. But that’s not where the news is.

The story is not whether John McCain did or did not have an affair with a woman 30 years his junior. The story is that a telecom lobbyist had a relationship with a Senator when her client had business before his committee. It speaks to his ethics, integrity and credibility, which is why his staff intervened:

[E]ven the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

Indeed, it seems John McCain isn’t so much a “maverick” as arrogant and narcissistic. Just what we need in the White House. Again.

McCain has been a good friend to the telecom industry. Back when he was supposedly canoodling with Vicki Iseman he wrote a letter on behalf her client, Paxson Communications. In 2002 he sponsored the Telecommunications Ownership Diversification Act, which absolutely thrilled Clear Channel.

Last week he came through for Big Telecom again, voting to give them immunity from lawsuits related to warrentless wiretaps.

For you kids who don’t remember, here’s a little recap on the Keating scandal:

During Mr. McCain’s four years in the House, Mr. Keating, his family and his business associates contributed heavily to his political campaigns. The banker gave Mr. McCain free rides on his private jet, a violation of Congressional ethics rules (he later said it was an oversight and paid for the trips). They vacationed together in the Bahamas. And in 1986, the year Mr. McCain was elected to the Senate, his wife joined Mr. Keating in investing in an Arizona shopping mall.

Mr. Keating had taken over the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association and used its federally insured deposits to gamble on risky real estate and other investments. He pressed Mr. McCain and other lawmakers to help hold back federal banking regulators.

For years, Mr. McCain complied. At Mr. Keating’s request, he wrote several letters to regulators, introduced legislation and helped secure the nomination of a Keating associate to a banking regulatory board.
By early 1987, though, the thrift was careering toward disaster. Mr. McCain agreed to join several senators, eventually known as the Keating Five, for two private meetings with regulators to urge them to ease up. “Why didn’t I fully grasp the unusual appearance of such a meeting?” Mr. McCain later lamented in his memoir.

When Lincoln went bankrupt in 1989 — one of the biggest collapses of the savings and loan crisis, costing taxpayers $3.4 billion — the Keating Five became infamous. The scandal sent Mr. Keating to prison and ended the careers of three senators, who were censured in 1991 for intervening. Mr. McCain, who had been a less aggressive advocate for Mr. Keating than the others, was reprimanded only for “poor judgment” and was re-elected the next year.

So, after barely emerging from a national scandal with his career intact, 10 years later he forges, ahem, a “bond” with a telecom lobbyist whose clients appear before his committee.

Yeah, I’d say someone was getting screwed all right–US.

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Filed under John McCain, Keating Five, telecom