23
May

The Future of Communications

Sometime in the future:
Hello. This is Bell Atlantic-Nynex-MCI-TCI-America Online customer
service. May I help you?
Yes, Id like to report a problem with my telephone.
Our records show you dont have local phone service through us.
Howd you know who I am? I didnt give you my name.
We have ways.
Well, Im pretty sure you have my phone service.
Our records show you have long-distance, cellular, satellite TV,
Internet access and your MasterCard through us. Your phone
service must be through one of the other three big communications
companies. Have you looked at your bill?
My bill is 134 pages long.
Oh, youre one of our light users. But wed be happy to become your local phone provider. If you sign up, you get one-third off long-distance calls made on your cellular phone to friends and family members who have an Internet home page.
Its tempting, but I just want my phone fixed.
Fine, sir. Just a reminder: Next time you need to contact us, try our Internet site. And when you get there, you can sign up for a free showing, through your satellite TV system, of Hamlet starring Bell Atlantic-Nynex-MCI-TCI-America Online CEO Ray Smith.
Thanks. Goodbye.
Click. Dial. Ring.
Good morning! This is SBC-Pacific Telesis-Sprint-GTE-Little Caesars.
Little Caesars? You do pizza?
You buy it over phone lines. Its content. Would you like one? You get a medium with two toppings when you order HBO on cable.
Uh, no. I called because my phone line isnt working right.
I see. Do you have your phone over your cable line or do you have your phone over a phone line.
A phone line, I think.
OK, then thats not SBC-Pacific Telesis-Sprint-GTE-Little Caesars. My file shows that you get cable TV and video games on demand from us, but in your area, we only offer phone service over cable lines. If you use a phone line, it must be one of the other companies.
Thanks. Ill call them.
And sir? Were testing some new products in your area. Were offering electric service and natural gas service for 10% less than the public utilities. One-stop shopping. We want to provide you with everything that comes into your house and connects to a device or appliance.
No, thanks. Bye.
Click. Dial. Ring.
Hello. Endorphin Enterprises.
Im sorry. I must have dialed the wrong number.
Youre probably in the right place. We just changed our name. We used to be US West-UUNet-Universal Pictures-Ameritech, but that got pretty cumbersome. I guess they wanted to call it UUUUSA, but then decided to start fresh. So were Endorphin Enterprises.
Clever.
Personally, I thought we should call ourselves Youse Guys. Get it?
Yeah, thats good. Um, I was calling because my phone line doesnt seem to work right.
Ohhhhh. What services do you have with us?
Im not sure.
We offer everything: local, long-distance, cellular, cable TV,
satellite TV, Internet access, music on demand and so on. But so
does everybody else these days.
Yes, well, its gotten a little confusing. Ive already called those
two other companies with long names.
Oh, right. OK, see, it looks like you dont have anything at all
with us. Now, we could make your life easier by giving you all
the services so youd know who to call. Except in your area, we
only offer movies on demand over the Internet, so that could be a
problem.
No, really, I just want to get my phone fixed.
My guess is you must have your local phone service through AT&T.
Thats the only other company left in the business.
OK, Ill try AT&T.
Click. Dial. Ring.
Hello. AT&T. Bob Allen speaking.
Bob Allen? The chairman? Im sorry. I wanted customer service.
No problem. Hold on a moment.
Pause. Rustling sounds.
Hello. Customer service. Bob Allen speaking.
Mr. Allen, I really just wanted customer service.
This is it. We spun off everything but my office. It goes
totally against the megamerger trend. Our shareholders love
it. Im getting paid $55 billion this year.
Well, sir, my phone line doesnt work right, and I think I need
someone to come fix it.
Be right there, as soon as I can find my tool belt.

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