Senator Introduces Bell-friendly Bills
By Kim Sunderland
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has introduced legislation intended to spur the deployment of DSL services by the ILECs. Brownback’s proposed bills are similar to the regulatory relief approach of House Resolution 1542 (H.R. 1542), also known as the Tauzin-Dingell bill, which competitors are fighting.
Brownback’s bill, the Broadband Deploy-ment and Competition Enhancement Act of 2001 (S. 1126), would remove requirements imposed on the ILECs by Section 251 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 when providing broadband services.
S. 1127, the Rural Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, also would provide regulatory relief to ILECs, but it applies only to rural areas.
Brownback said that deregulation can make broadband universally available.
“The broadband market, distinct from the local telephone market, is new,” Brownback explains. “Yet, federal and state regulators are placing local telephone competition regulations on broadband-specific facilities deployed by ILECs–the only regulated broadband service providers–as if they were part and parcel of their local telephone service.
“This is simply not the case,” he said. “The local telephone market is not synonymous with the broadband market.”
The text of S. 1126 says that, “Common carrier regulation is being extended inappropriately to new broadband services being deployed by ILECs, while no regulation is applied to new broadband services being deployed by local cable television companies.”
Further, the text of S. 1126 says that broadband services and service providers should be subject to little or no regulation, as there are no monopoly providers of such services and regulation of a nascent service inhibits the development of a competitive market.
Calling the bills part of “the broadband misinformation campaign,” H. Russell Frisby Jr., president of the Competitive
Telecommunications Association (CompTel, www.comptel.org), also said that Brownback’s legislation is “clearly and vigorously anti-competitive.”
Frisby said that the proposed legislation guts part of the Telecom Act that ensures open markets for broadband services.