| || || |
| Telecommunications: The Broadband|
Congress this week revisited how high-speed Internet services are regulated, looking specifically at which companies should and should not be allowed to compete in this very lucrative marketplace.
On Feb. 27, House lawmakers approved the Tauzin-Dingell bill (H.R. 1542), a proposal to rewrite the 1996 Telecommuncations Act to allow the regional telephone giants, the so-called "Baby Bells," to provide such services without first meeting a significant prerequisite of the original 1996 law -- opening up their local telephone service monopolies to competitors. For Tauzin-Dingell:
The Baby Bells, led by Verizon and SBC Communications, which want to sell long-distance, high-speed Internet services without first opening up their local phone monopolies to competition.
In Congress, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the committee's ranking Democrat, John Dingell of Michigan are the lead sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kans.), Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) are backing a similar bill. To build public support, Verizon is sponsoring the Broadband for U.S. coalition, while SBC is supporting Connect USA. Another coalition supporting the bill is Keep America Connected, representing a diverse mix of business, labor groups, citizen associations and local phone companies. Against Tauzin-Dingell:
The competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), joined by long-distance service companies like MCI WorldCom and Sprint want to use the 1996 law as currently written to leverage concessions on local market entry from the Baby Bells.
In Congress, Representatives Chris Cannon (R-Utah) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) have offered an alternative to Tauzin-Dingell. In the Senate, Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) is leading the opposition to Tauzin-Dingell. Voices for Choices and the Competitive Broadband Coalition have been formed to build public opposition to Tauzin-Dingell. Live Online Archive:
• Rep. Billy Tauzin (Dec. 20, 2001)
• John Windhausen of the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (Feb. 26, 2002)
Commentary and Analysis:
• Telecom's Disconnect (By Robert J. Samuelson, Feb. 27, 2002)
• Who's Holding Back Broadband? (By Lawrence Lessig, Jan. 8, 2002)
• Broadband's Faded Promise (by Robert J. Samuelson, Dec. 12, 2001)
• Consumers Union: Guide to the Telecom Act
• Center for Digital Democracy: Broadband Legislation Watch
• Digital Divide Network: Demystifying Broadband
Back to Washtech Home © 2002 The Washington Post Company
| || |