All five members of the FCC took the heat over their new telephone and broadband decision at a Congressional hearing last week. It seems that no one is pleased with the compromise decision that resulted from a political showdown between Chairman Michael Powell and Commissioner Kevin Martin.
The two-pronged decision requires the regional Bell companies to continue to share their voice phone lines at discount rates with competitors until state regulators determine there is enough local competition to permit deregulation. At the same time, the decision relieves requirements that the Bells continue to rent highly discounted broadband lines to competitive resellers. This opens the door to higher consumer prices for DSL services. The 3-to-2 vote drew highly vocal criticism.
The subcommittee, most of whose members favor the side of the telephone companies, got agreement from Chairman Powell, who had advocated that all rules should have been eliminated.
Powell got a nod of approval from Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., chairman of the full committee, who blames the whole episode on the defection of FCC member Kevin Martin. Martin voted with the FCC’s two Democrats to stall Powell’s plan.
For more information visit www.fcc.gov.
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