Monday, October 02, 2006

Creatures Of The Night

I’ve always been a fan of Vampire movies, which is probably the reason I love watching the antics of the telecom companies. There’s nothing like the excitement of a bunch of bloodsuckers lurking in the shadows that start screaming and flailing when exposed to sunlight.

So it is in Norwood where Verizon is blasting town officials for not giving up control of their rights of way.

“Obviously we want to go where we’re welcomed and wanted,” says Verizon’s Rick Colon.

A bit of Vampire trivia that it took me years to learn:

Vampires have to be invited in. No really. You have to open up the window and invite them in. If you keep the window closed and string lots of garlic around it they can’t come in to suck your blood. However, that is not always an effective tactic since Vampires have the ability to hypnotize you with their beady red eyes.

Vampires also have a sense for flair.

Looking at Norwood Massachusetts one wonders what all the fuss is about. Here’s a town of just over twenty-eight thousand people, or let’s say eight or nine thousand households. They already have two cable providers, Comcast and Norwood Light Broadband. One can assume the residents have access to a satellite provider. In breaking down the numbers, we can estimate that fifteen percent of households are on satellite, or roughly fourteen hundred households. There’s a good possibility that another fifteen percent of the households do not have cable or satellite, so that’s another fourteen hundred.

Taking a wild guess, let’s divide the remaining households between the two existing cable providers, Comcast and Norwood Light Broadband (the municipal provider). That would give each of them around three thousand customers. Now pretend that Verizon can coax away half the households from each of the providers, that would give Verizon about three thousand subscribers and not right away mind you but over a period of a few years.

For this, Verizon is raising a stink?

Town officials say all they want is a level playing field, Verizon needs to follow the franchising process just like everybody else. Makes sense. Verizon counters that the consumers are being “denied the option of having more choice in cable TV.”

To that end, Verizon attempted to get a ruling by the state’s Department of Telecommunications and Energy to shorten the negotiation period for franchises to three months. Over one hundred municipalities objected to this bully tactic. I have advice for Verizon. If they want a three month negotiating period then come to the table with a good contract, which includes, by the way, building out the entire community not just cherry picking the wealthy neighborhoods.

Town officials claim they only want Verizon to play by the rules. But that would require coming out of the shadows and taking a good long look in the mirror. And as you know, Vampires cannot be seen in mirrors nor can they stand the light of day. I have done a great deal of research and have not encountered an organized conspiracy to put a stake through Verizon’s heart. I would say they need to stop showing their fangs every time local government wants them to do the right thing. And actually there is an existing ritual to reverse Vampirism, it’s called an ascertainment process followed by a franchise agreement.

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