RealTime IT News

ISPs Ask FCC To Postpone High-Speed Ruling

A group of independent Internet access providers are asking the Federal Communications Commission to postpone a ruling that would give regional telephone companies the right to expand their high-speed access offerings.

The Independent Service Providers' Consortium, Commercial Internet Exchange and six state ISP associations told the FCC Thursday their business could be jeopardized if the FCC gave the Baby Bells' plans the green light.

"We think it's premature for the commission to come out with their planned rulemaking on advanced services," Barbara Dooley, president of the Commercial Internet Exchange, said in a statement.

The issue heated up last year when the FCC proposed the regional telephone operators be allowed to offer high-speed services, such as digital subscriber line, through separate subsidies. Previously, Bells were prohibited from bundling high-speed services like DSL with other offerings. That would have allowed competitors to lease lines from the Baby Bells at a discount. They would then turn around and resell the service to their own customers like independent ISPs.

Telephone company executives said forcing them to give competitors a discount would greatly reduce their incentive to invest in high-speed offerings and slow the rollout of DSL. The companies have lined up a variety of computer companies including Intel Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. to support their position.

Independent ISPs accuse the Bells of discriminating against them, making it difficult for customers to access high-speed services from any ISP they choose.

A vote on the issue is expected at the commission's Jan. 28 meeting.