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Telcos to FCC: give us billions, but don't make us share lines
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Written by Daniel   
Monday, 23 November 2009 16:57

From ARS Technica

AT&T and Verizon are up in arms about a "slanted" survey of global broadband practices done for the FCC which concludes that mandatory line-sharing rules produce better Internet speeds and penetration rates. Is it possible the US could (again) force ISPs to open their networks?

It was a report that went right to the roots of United States broadband policy, so it should come as no surprise that it's getting hammered by the telecommunications industry.

Harvard's Berkman Center study of global broadband practices, produced at the FCC's request, is an "embarrassingly slanted econometric analysis that violates professional statistical standards and is insufficiently reliable to provide meaningful guidance," declares AT&T. The study does does nothing but promote the lead author's "own extreme views," warns a response from Verizon Wireless. Most importantly, it "should not be relied upon by the FCC in formulating a National Broadband Plan," concludes the United States Telecom Association.

Reviewing the slew of criticisms, Berkman's blog wryly notes that the report seems to have been "a mini stimulus act for telecommunications lawyers and consultants." (Interestingly, not everything the Berkman study observes is repugnant to the telcos—hint: big direct public subsidies.)

But the ISPs have good reason to go after Harvard scholar Yochai Benkler's survey on "Next Generation Connectivity" around the world, because if the Federal Communications Commission does endorse the study's conclusions in its impending National Broadband Plan, that document might say something like this:

FCC line-sharing policy since 2002 has taken the United States off track when it comes to broadband deployment. The agency should reverse course and require AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and the other big ISPs to open their networks to smaller providers of residential broadband service at regulated wholesale rates. This will foster competition, lower prices, and more innovative broadband offerings across the country, as it has elsewhere.

That's what's at stake in this debate, and it's not a pretty prospect for Big Telecom. But first, let's recap how we got to this point.                      [ARS Technica...] [Comments...]



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