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Byline: Greg Edwards
Feb. 7--"One ringy-dingy ... two ringy-dingy. ... Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?" Remember Ernestine, Lily Tomlin's telephone operator on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" in the late 1960s?
If not, maybe you recall the classic punch line that she delivered after tormenting some hapless caller: "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company."
Ernestine worked for a fictional phone company that did not know competition. But times have changed in the intervening decades and new laws have allowed competitors to enter the telephone business, first into long-distance calling and more recently at the local level.
Just how much competition exists and whether it is enough to protect consumers and curb abuses like those satirized by Tomlin is a key question before the Virginia General Assembly, where lawmakers are being asked to make changes in state …