TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Telecom Reform: Here Come the States

Telecom Reform: Here Come the States

Jack Decker (jack-yahoogroups@withheld)
Fri, 25 Mar 2005 11:48:53 -0500

Those of you on the MI-Telecom list can pretty much skip this
commentary (it's a condensed version of my earlier commentary in the
previous message) and scroll right down to the excerpt. For those of
you on the VoIP News list, here's a little preliminary commentary:

I am passing along this item not because I agree with it -- for the
most part, I do NOT -- but because for some reason the libertarian
think tanks seem to have more influence with legislators than they
should. Since there are no libertarian legislators elected by the
people (in most states), one wonders why libertarian think tanks are
even paid any attention. Further, I wish someone with the
investigative skills would follow the money trail on these
organizations -- they have to get their funding from somewhere, and I'm
very suspicious that some of their funding may be coming from Some Big
Company in Texas.

But more to the point, these people are lobbying for deregulation of
the telephone industry. It seems to me that competition is a good
thing, and deregulation is a bad thing when one company (the ILEC)
still has effective bottleneck control over an industry. What I see
happening here may be nothing less than a sneaky way to re-establish
the Bell monopoly.

The attack is as follows: Paint VoIP as a formidable competitor. Get
state legislators to agree that VoIP offers significant and ubiquitous
competition, even though less than 1% of the public uses VoIP and VoIP
currently has significant shortcomings (such as lack of "enhanced"
911). Then when the phone companies are deregulated, they will put
the screws to VoIP, by first refusing to sell broadband connectivity
(DSL) unless the customer also buys dial tone, and should the customer
agree to that, they will then play games with packet routing and
traffic shaping to degrade the service of VoIP companies.

Well, except of course for their own deregulated VoIP offerings, which
(unless the customer subscribes to a "premium" service at a very high
price) will look a lot more like traditional phone service (limited
calling areas and per-minute billing). That traffic will ride the
expressway, while competitors' VoIP traffic may be relegated to the
gravel roads, so to speak. And without regulation, they will be able
to raise rates at will.

End of my commentary, here's an excerpt of the article that inspired
it (note the date -- one could hope this is just an April Fool's joke,
but I suspect it is deadly serious).

Telecom Reform: Here Come the States
Alabama leads the way
Written By: Steven Titch
Published In: IT&T News
Publication Date: April 1, 2005
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

In February, Alabama became the latest state to place telecom reform
on its legislative agenda.

Senate Bill 114 and its House counterpart, House Bill 112, call for
deregulation of wireline dial-tone services. The law would still allow
the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) to field complaints and
adjudicate disputes between consumers and local phone companies, but
the PSC would no longer set rates or dictate the way companies bundle
their services. Similar reform bills are on the docket, or headed for
it, in Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Wisconsin, and other states.

The Alabama bill recognizes the reality of intermodal competition from
wireless and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. It affirms
that telecommunications is becoming increasingly competitive as
service platforms shift away from proprietary, closed narrowband
networks to broadband connections based on open standards that support
diverse, customizable multimedia services.

Telecom reform advocates recognize that telephone service offered on
broadband platforms simply cannot be regulated as it was in the
past. Reform is necessary. The only question is what form it should
take. Many opponents of reform refuse to acknowledge that the current
scheme, even as it keeps rates low for some, is unsustainable.

Full story at:

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