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Telecommunications: The Broadband
Deregulation Debate


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.

_____From The Post_____
House Passes Internet Access Legislation (Feb. 28, 2002)
Millions Spent to Influence Bill on High-Speed Internet Access (Feb. 27, 2002)
Groups Lobby for More, Faster Broadband (Jan. 15, 2002)
Long-Distance Romancing (July 3, 2001)

_____Cast Your Vote _____
Tauzin-Dingell: Congress is debating a proposal to rewrite the 1996 Telecommunications Act to allow new players to serve the long-distance, high-speed Internet market.
Should Congress pass the bill?

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.
  • Tauzin

  • 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.
  • Hollings

  • 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



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