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June 16, 2008

Party Lines still exist, at least on Fire Island

On Fire Island, we compete with Verizon's DSL product and a couple other wireless providers for the internet access market.  We like to think we're growing because we provide a better service, and treat our customers nicer.  Ultimately though, most commodity purchase decisions come down to economics.  If you are within DSL range, VZ is the cheaper alternative so far, and that's just the way it is right now. 

However, part of the fun in this business is enjoying the idiosyncrasies of Fire Island and its denizens.  We're bringing on a new customer in Ocean Beach who is well within DSL range who has the weirdest rationale for joining that I've heard in the five years we've been doing this. He actually has a party line telephone that he doesn't want to give up.  To get DSL, he'd have to switch.  When this guy picks up his phone, an operator has to connect the call for him.  I didn't even think that they existed any more!   There must be some kind of regulatory requirement that forces VZ to keep these lines active, which, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised about, given the state of telecom regulation in this country.  I actually feel kind of bad for VZ that they have to support this anachronism, but hey, we're happy to get a new customer.  And no, it's not the "Petticoat Junction" magneto type phone, but I wouldn't be suprised if it's a rotary dial.

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We like to think we're growing because we provide a better service, and treat our customers nicer. Ultimately though, most commodity purchase decisions come down to economics. If you are within DSL range, VZ is the cheaper alternative so far, and that's just the way it is right now.

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