AMACOM, a division of the American Management Association,
presents John Handley's Telebomb, now out in hard cover.


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View Telebomb's
Table of Contents

View Chapter 8 of Telebomb,
"Lost Opportunities by the Cable Companies"

Additional Readings and Supplemental Material

 The Telecommunications Act of 1996, designed to bring competition and growth to a monolithic industry through deregulation, was instead the final catalyst in detonating the "telebomb"--an epidemic of problems, from customer frustration and stockholder revolt to financial crisis and outright crime. With telecommunications now encompassing not only the telephone industry but also cable television, Internet, and wireless providers, the stakes grow higher--and the terrain riskier--every day.

What are the industry and the regulators doing about it? Not nearly enough, argues John Handley. Telebomb describes the origins of the mounting crisis and follows, point by point, the trajectory of the industry, from before the 1984 AT&T breakup, through the sky's -the-limit late 1990s, to the cutthroat chaos of today's telecom megacorporations. And it describes both the perils of inaction and a workable plan to help the industry right itself.

A veteran consultant who worked with virtually all the major telecoms, Handley is uniquely qualified to tell this story and analyze its meaning. This book examines the five overarching trends that precipitated the telebomb, including:

  • The false assumptions that led to vast overspending on fiber-optic capacity
  • The entry of the regional Bell companies (still holding a majority of their assets from before the AT&T breakup) into direct competition with the Big Three carriers in the long distance market
  • The corresponding attempt by the Big Three to remain competitive by entering the regional, local, and wireless markets
  • The rise and fall of competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), which sprang up almost overnight but which began to fail just as quickly due to their dot-com style business plans
  • The opportunities lost by the cable companies, who possessed a huge bandwidth advantage over the phone carriers but squandered that precious asset through ill-conceived merger and acquisition deals

Telebomb poses and answers the fundamental questions born of these trends and their outcomes: How could these companies raise, spend, and lose so much money in so little time? What could have been done to stop (or at least slow down) the collapse of so many companies and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs? And, of course, how do we avoid a second telebomb?

The infrastructure, technology, and knowledge are largely in place. It's what's done with them that will determine the future of our telecommunications and media landscape.

JOHN HANDLEY is an author and telecommunications consultant. Previously, he was a partner at Accenture, where he worked with each of the major telecommunications carriers in North America, including Verizon/Bell Atlantic/GTE, SBC/Ameritech, BellSouth, Qwest/USWest, AT&T, Lucent, Sprint, Bell Canada, Alltel, MCI/Worldcom, and Global Crossing. His practice areas included new technology deployment, capacity provisioning, network operations, and the development of practical content delivery networks. Mr. Handley is based in Falls Church, Virginia.

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