Not that long ago, I used to work for AT&T. This was after the breakup in 1984, but before (and during) the divesture of 1994. At that time, AT&T was a huge presence in New Jersey. If you lived in the northern half of the state, you either worked for AT&T or knew someone who did. You couldn’t drive more than fifteen minutes without seeing another AT&T building.
I was never more than a tiny little cog in a very large machine. I know that I thought spinning off the equipment arm into Lucent seemed like a pretty silly idea. (The ill-fated NCR merger looked to me like a bad idea from the start, so spinning that back off wasn’t so bad.) Still, I didn’t leave because I thought the company was no good. Heck, I knew that my salary and benefits were better than a lot of other companies. Mostly I left because I was bored and wanted to expand my horizons, and the internet was booming. I joined a small web development shop and felt like I was in nirvana.
Then the internet bubble burst. But that’s another story.
I still had friends back at the “Death Star”, and still believed it was fundamentally a good company. I was adamant about keeping them for my long distance service, chose them for my local and wireless services as soon as they became available in my area, and used AT&T Worldnet until I was finally able to get broadband internet in my area.
I was a little more knowledgeable than others not in the company about the dirty tricks the RBOCs were pulling. With a monopoly on local phone service in their territories, the breakup of AT&T in 1984 was supposed free up the regional Bell companies to compete in each others’ markets, but instead they consolidated their power to gobble up long distance and DSL competitors. I thought AT&T’s idea of buying SBC in the late 1990s was good, but the FCC shot it down.
Ironic that only a few years later they would endorse SBC buying AT&T.
It’s really rather sad. Everyone that I knew at AT&T was a good person. Like me, though, they were all very small cogs in a very big machine. We got screwed by our management. And now they’re getting screwed by Whitacre and his cronies from SBC. An awful lot of the people I knew at AT&T are now also former AT&T employees. I don’t know how many of them were lucky to get one of those generous downsizing packages. Most, I hope.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, then, that this company that is a mere shadow of its former self would collude with the NSA to spy on American citizens. Or that the present administration would move to block a lawsuit that is attempting to bring to light these constitutional abuses.
AT&T lost my business long ago, but I’m still angry. And I vote.