The Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, also known as the Tauzin-Dingell bill, is supposed to deregulate Internet and high-speed data services.
But it is merely a regional Bell operating company regulatory relief bill in disguise, charges Probe Research Inc. of Cedar Knolls, New Jersey.
The bill, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 27, is intended to alleviate U.S. Federal Communications Commission and state regulation that have "impeded the rapid delivery of high-speed Internet access and Internet backbone services to the public, thereby reducing consumer choice and welfare," according to Probe Research. Instead, it is "unnecessarily pro-FRBOC," Probe asserts.
(An FRBOC stands for former RBOC, which is how Probe refers to the regional phone companies broken off from AT&T in the mid-1980s).
"The Tauzin-Dingell bill eliminates unbundled network element [UNE] and wholesale requirements for data services, allowing the FRBOCs to offer interLATA data services without Section 271 approval, thus eliminating the need for them to prove they are acting in good faith in opening their networks to competitors," charges Lynda Starr, vice president of U.S. carrier research at Probe.
"The argument used by the FRBOCs to eliminate UNEs and the need to open their networks is that such requirements have created barriers to their own deployment of broadband services, including DSL."
New competitors may enter a market by reselling ILEC service, building their own costly networks or through the use of leased UNEs, Starr says. Using UNEs has been the most economical option for the competitors, and eliminating wholesale would freeze many of them out of the market, she charges.
"The FRBOCs want to eliminate competition because they are monopoly providers, and when competition enters, market share can only go down," Starr says.
Maybe this is why the bill will be squashed in the Senate.