ISPs Ask FCC To Postpone High-Speed Ruling

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

The Independent Service Providers’
, Commercial Internet
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.

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