We have a monopoly in our neighborhood

Jonathon Tillman

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 20, 2001
Messages
72
I live in an development that was originated in 1995. We purchased this home a few months ago in Center Valley, PA.

Our telephone company is Commonwealth telephone company (CTCO) which was recently bought by Citizens Telephone Company for 1.16 Billion. They offer local and long distance service along with accelerated dial-up and DSL.

Commonwealth telephone has been around since the late 1800s and is headquartered in Dallas, PA. It's a small telephone company that serves 40 exchanges in the state of Pennsylvania. Recently we learned that Commonwealth owns the territory that it serves and blocked out any and all competition.

I have contacted both Verizon and Service Electric (Cable) regarding phone service and they both tell me that they have nothing planned for phone service.

Now with Verizon rolling out it's new technology (FIOS) we'd like to take advantage of that opportunity if and when they would lay the fiber in our neighborhood. But with the blocked out list that Commonwealth has no other telephone provider is allowed to come into our CTCO service area.

The only alternative that we have to the LAN line is (voice over IP) Packet 8 or Vonage. We have already tried the Packet 8 and there are drop outs and echoing galore and we don't think Vonage would be any better.

Now you may be asking what is so bad about Commonwealth? Well the phone service is split into two parts. Local and Long distance are not combined so we are looking at a roughly $100 phone bill for unlimited minutes.

If verizon was available in our area we could get local and long distance for around $40 a month. So what is commonwealth giving us for an extra $60 a month? Nothing.

We were hoping our cable company (Service Electric) would give us a triple play and give us phone service but their blocked out as well. We are at least getting a double play with TV and internet.

I think I have a monopoly on my hands. As far as I know Commonwealth has been doing this with areas it serves ever since it's had competition. There is no way they'd be able to compete against the big boys.

I have already sent an email informing our district congressman but is there anything else I could do to see if this block could be lifted?

It’s so frustrating having the freedom of choice taken away from you.
 

Rob Landolfi

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Feb 26, 2002
Messages
182
I hear your point on the frustration with limited providers in your neighborhood. I experienced the same thing in our subdivision with cable providers, and had to make the switch to DirecTV.

$40 per month for Verizon local and long distance? When I had Verizon in VA, it was $40 for the local line and $15-20 for unlimited long distance on top of that. It was $67.48 monthly with taxes. Had Vonage for nearly two years and that dropped the monthly price to $27. However, in the final few months prior to moving, I had a lot of call quality issues and we're now back on landline service in our new area (Bellsouth). I liked Vonage, and felt that my issues with the call quality in those final few months were due to Comcast's service. Tough thing about that set-up is that Vonage can't do anything to help out as their service was working, and the ISP will tell you that they can't troubleshoot another company's service issue.

Good luck.
 

MikeH

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 22, 1999
Messages
170
You could drop the land line completely and go cell phone only. I've done it for about two years and while it has pros & cons generally I am happy I made the switch.

Mike
 

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
18,933
Real Name
Malcolm
Don't most utilities still have monopolies in their territory? I still only have a single option if I want landline phone service, or cable television, or electricity. There's not much competition anywhere that I can see.
 

Eric Samonte

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 31, 1999
Messages
1,318
Here in Mt. Top, PA, about 1 hour from Lehigh Valley, Service Electric is the only available cable service. I'm with Dish but got their cable modem for internet to use with Sunrocket.
 

Justin Lane

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2000
Messages
2,149


With electric de-regulation consumors have the option of buying their generations from numerous service providers (though there are many less than a few years back). The transmisison/delivery and maintenance all go to the local service provider who installed the lines. It is a similar situation for phone service in many places.

J
 

Jonathon Tillman

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 20, 2001
Messages
72

After we moved we lived in a apartment around the block for about a year.
We had a choice of either Verizon or RCN telephone service. We went with the triple play that RCN had and found that the VoIP service was quite descent. As Rob had said if you have another VoIP service like Vonage you could not complain to RCN about it but the phone service we were getting was part of RCN's service either there own or some outside company. But if you were to complain about the service, its RCN so they have to address a problem if there was.

Service Electric is one of the oldest cable companies and they claim to be the first ever to offer service. My opinion regarding Service electric is I'd rather have RCN over Service electric. The rates and quality of service is much better.

Dish or Direct TV is the other alternative to cable getting them out of the monopoly. However all cable companies ban together when it comes to something threatening big competition.

That threat used to be satellite but now with Verizon unleashing it's FIOS to offer Phone, Internet and TV its a big competitor against cable unless cable has blocks in place to keep Verizon out, but again that hurts the customer if rates are high and there is no relief to go to.

I recently saw a commercial on TV which was an advertisement for the cable companies complaining about Verizon and to keep PA local. Its defense was to implant into current cable customers heads that Verizon is only rolling out its FIOS into wealthy areas.

I don't believe that for a second because FIOS is brand new and they are developing it and implementing it into communities all over and its continuing to grow.

Cable is just shaking in their boots that Verizon is going to be heavy competition with state of the art technology right into the home at a reasonable price for a triple play.
 

Jonathon Tillman

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 20, 2001
Messages
72
Okay guys,

Turns out through some inside information that Commonwealth telephone actually pays Verizon for airtime for its subscribers.

By law Verizon must allow other companies to offer phone service otherwise it would be considered a monopoly. So in this case Verizon probably encourages this.

However this is what I have heard but Commonwealth has been around since 1897. Either way somewhere along the line commonwealth has to linkup with Verizon to carry its service to someone within the Verizon service area on the East coast.

Commonwealth Telephone company (which is now owned by citizens) is considered a mom & pop company that is just a middle man.

There is more bad news. Since my area has underground cabling and is within Commonwealth telephone territory all of us that live in the development should not expect FIOS service anytime soon.

In order to receive the service commonwealth would have to purchase the technology to implement into our area and lay cable underground. This would be a massive expense not to mention that neighbors would appreciate having their lawns dug up.
 

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