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Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
1/31/2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the vote on the controversial Tauzin-Dingell bill draws closer, supporters are feeling confident that it will pass the U.S. House of Representatives and move on to the Senate.

A panel discussion here at the Comnet trade show on Wednesday turned into a gathering for Tauzin-Dingell supporters. Andrew W. Levin, counsel for the Committee on Commerce in the House, said he was confident that the bill would pass both the House and the Senate.

If the law passes, it will allow Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) to offer broadband Internet services over long-distance lines without opening up their local phone service monopolies to outside competition. The bill, which originated in the House, was postponed at the end of last year (see Last Mile Political Battle Heats Up).

But despite claims of victory by Tauzin-Dingell supporters, the opposition is still strong and vocal. Even if the bill passes the House, Senator Fritz Hollings, a democrat from South Carolina, will likely oppose it. He has been working on his own legislation to combat Tauzin-Dingell, which is widely supported by large long-distance companies like AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T).

"They were confident a year ago and it still hasn't passed," said Russell Frisby, president of the Competitive Telecommunications Association. Frisby, whose group opposes Tauzin-Dingell, was not at the Comnet conference. "I think their confidence is at worst misplaced, and at best wishful thinking. Senator Hollings has said in the past that Tauzin-Dingell is dead on arrival in the Senate. I don't think anything has changed on that."

With no representatives from Senator Hollings's office present on the panel, however, the Tauzin-Dingellers took the opportunity to downplay the opposition.

“Hollings is fighting a holy war that has been going on between AT&T and the RBOCs since 1984 during the divestiture,” said Levin. “I think that if we get the kind of support we expect in the House, it will have enough momentum to make it through the Senate, too.”

Levin went on to say that he hopes most of the issues and concerns surrounding the bill are dealt with on the House floor during the debate.

“There is a major misconception out there that Tauzin-Dingell will somehow impede local competition,” said Levin. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. It does nothing to roll back what is currently in place. Zero.”

Although the White House hasn’t come out in full support of Tauzin-Dingell, a national broadband policy is being drafted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Communications and Information division.

Precisely when the administration’s broadband initiative will be made public is still not known. Nancy J. Victory, Assistant Secretary for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, says that despite what has been reported, the new initiative will not be released on March 18.

“The NTI has been looking and gathering information about what is an appropriate role for the government for the past six months,” she said. “But I can’t give a specific date of when we will release our initiative. It may be earlier or it may be later. Stay tuned.”

There had also been speculation that supporters of Tauzin-Dingell were working with the Federal Communications Commission, so that the Commission would come up with solutions making legislation unnecessary. But Kevin J. Martin, commissioner with the FCC, who was on the panel today, said the FCC hasn’t interceded in any way. He says that whatever happens to the bill is up to Congress and that the commission is working on what it can -- within the confines of the current Telecom Act -- to spur competition.

Whatever happens, RBOCs say they will continue to pursue DSL deployment. During a press conference following his keynote address yesterday, Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) said that with or without Tauzin-Dingell, his company still plans to move forward with its DSL buildout (see Verizon CEO: Blame the Government).

“The way the industry is evolving,” he said, “we’ll be facing competition from alternative technologies rather than from competitors wholesaling our services, anyway.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com

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raypeso
raypeso
12/4/2012 | 11:00:12 PM
re: Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally
I work for a CLEC that has mostly midsize buisness customers. My companyis pushing hard against it without giving many details, Is this bill just going to let RBOC's give DSL to residential customers, or does it include T1 and above?

Raypeso
PantomineHorse
PantomineHorse
12/4/2012 | 11:00:10 PM
re: Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally
"...I work for a CLEC that has mostly midsize buisness customers..."

Your business must get in tune with lobbying efforts.

The RBOCs are attempting to use their political muscle to steamroll anything & everything that gets in their way. RBOCs stepped up their efforts right after 911.
fgoldstein
fgoldstein
12/4/2012 | 11:00:04 PM
re: Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally
D-T cuts off CLEC access to DSL, so if you're hoping to reach business customers that way, you're dead in the water. I think it also cuts off T1 EELs, which are the best way a CLEC reaches business customers. I am not 100% sure of what it does to the T1 loop UNE; I think it terminates the TELRIC-based price and allows the ILEC to set the price on it wherever they want.

D-T allows the ILEC to set retail pricing on all >200 kbps services wherever they want. So if they choose to raise the local T1 Special Access rate from ~$300 (which has a preposterously high markup) to say ~$3000, there's no regulatory recourse.

Most of the press about D-T focuses on its gutting of Section 271, which would cripple the LD companies, but it's the devastating effects on CLECs that are most dangerous.
fsubob
fsubob
12/4/2012 | 10:59:56 PM
re: Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally
"D-T cuts off CLEC access to DSL, so if you're hoping to reach business customers that way, you're dead in the water."

Not sure how you come to this conclusion when the DT bill focuses on broadband internet access over long distances. CLECs will have same access to DSL lines as they have today.

"Most of the press about D-T focuses on its gutting of Section 271, which would cripple the LD companies, but it's the devastating effects on CLECs that are most dangerous."

DT bill finally levels the playing field with the LD companies. Today LD companies can play in the local markets and they contine to lobby to keep the RBOCs out of LD, seems fair to me???
high plains drifter
high plains drifter
12/4/2012 | 10:59:48 PM
re: Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally
this was a good article about some important legislation affecting the industry, but what would be a GREAT article is one that examines each of the 3 bills up for consideration and their potential effect on the sector. as it stands I don't really know much about the differences between the 3, and I suspect most of your readers don't either...
fgoldstein
fgoldstein
12/4/2012 | 10:59:43 PM
re: Tauzin-Dingell Clan Holds Pep Rally
>Not sure how you come to this conclusion when the DT bill focuses on broadband internet access over long distances. CLECs will have same access to DSL lines as they have today.

WRONG! D-T says that CLECs only get access to those UNEs which were available to them prior to a specific date, I think 2/99. Whatever, it was just before the FCC ruled that CLECs have access to subloops, which they need to get around DLCs, and it was before the FCC's Pronto ruling, which said that if an ILEC put in DLC, it still had to make the old copper available to CLECs. SBC's Pronto planned to put in tons of gratuitous DLC, blocking CLEC access to a majority of subscribers. CLECs gained various other things, like cageless colo, after the cutoff date.

So under D-T, a CLEC would only have access to DSL-qualified loops from costly cages to subscribers who were very close to the CO and which the ILEC chose not to cut off. The qual rate would fall well below 50%, making CLEC loop services very hard to make money on.

>DT bill finally levels the playing field with the LD companies. Today LD companies can play in the local markets and they contine to lobby to keep the RBOCs out of LD, seems fair to me???

Huh? Wrong again. LD companies do not have monoply power in ANYTHING, but ILECs have monopoly power over the loop, local switched service, etc. The whole deal behind the Telecom Act was to get the RBOCs to open up the networks *for real*, which they haven't done, in exchange for LD authority. The RBOCs were *created*, remember, in order to open up the LD market. Yes, there was nominal competition before 1/1/84, but Ma Bell had too much monopoly power. Now the RBOCs act that way.
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