After the Bell
Will Congress land a big blow for fair competition?
Despite quick passage in a House committee, legislation that would give the four former Regional Bell Operating Companies more Internet leverage seems destined to falter. The Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act (H.R. 1542) would eliminate a provision in the 1996 Telecommunications Act requiring that Bell South, Qwest, SBC and Verizon allow other phone companies to access their local phone facilities before the FCC will allow them to make long-distance Internet connections.
The Bell companies argue that the legislation offers them the same abilities cable companies have to provide Internet service without federal regulation, but critics say it would allow them to continue thwarting outside access to their phone lines.
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