Friday, January 12, 2007

A phone by any other name

Mills of the gods

I was confused about a new type of cell phone I was interested in and wondered if I could buy one. It was being sold by Cingular, and so I thought that I was out of luck because we are an AT & T family. My daughter had to explain to me that Cingular was At& T. I had gotten so lost in the myriad changes of the name AT&T that I did not know my own phone company.

When I was a boy there was really only one phone company, AT&T . It had been the phone company since Bell had told Watson that "he needed him". But the political winds which had begun to blow under Teddy Roosevelt, finally knocked down the old AT&T ,in the 70s I guess, and split the phone company into "baby Bells". This was not so bad, except I sort of lost track of who AT&T was. Then, with the advent of cell phones, they began to make more noise as AT& T wireless. That is until Cingular bought AT&T Wireless and dropped the AT&T brand. At that point, AT&T was still around, but did not have much to do.

Well the baby Bells did not work out quite like everyone thought they would, and one of the babies, I forget which,I think Southwest, began buying up its little brothers and sisters. They bought Pacbell and BellSouth and maybe some more. Then they bougdt the old AT&T and changed their name back to the old monopolistic one.

What I missed was that Cingular was owned by BellSouth and so AT&T now owned Cingular which had bought the old AT&T wireless.

Today, AT&T announced that they are phasing out the Cingular name and phasing in "AT&T' for the Cingular Product. So now I will no longer be confused when I see the cell phone ads. I will know that I buy AT&T which is really Cingular, which is really the old BellSouth, which was the original AT&T, which is now owned by the "new" AT&T which is really the Old Southwestern Bell (I think) which had formerly been part the old AT&T. See how much confusion and time could have been saved if the original monoply had never been broken up ? I miss my rotary phone.


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