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Broadband Internet Parody PDF Print
Written by Jonathan Haase   
Friday, 10 January 2003
A recent letter by an SBC ( Southwestern Bell) employee published in the Sedalia, MO newspaper reminded me of a rant that I intended to do long ago and never quite got around to. So considering how far behind I am on getting rants done, I thought well hey it's never too late right?.

The letter in question basically states SBC's position on a series of new legislation that is currently being introduced in the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives. The senate version of the bill in question can be accessed in it's full text here at the Missouri Senate's website. The house version is available here at the Missouri House's website. They are both essentially the same bill no doubt written by lobbyist's for SBC. The bill's sponsors include Representatives Jim Avery from Crestwood and Bryan Stevenson from Joplin in the house and Senators Sarah Steelman from Rolla and Charles Gross from St Charles in the Senate. At first glance the bill appears harmless enough, the brief title of it is as follows "SB 0221 Prohibits the PSC from imposing any restrictions on high- speed Internet or broadband service". SBC's position being that this bill will increase the availability of broadband Internet service, allowing them to better compete with local cable companies thereby creating a "Broadband Internet Parity".
Looking solely at the title of the bill it seems almost like a good idea. I mean it occurs to me that imposing restrictions on high-speed Internet of broadband service could be a bad thing, and therefore any bill that prohibits the public service commission from doing so ought to be a good thing right? This is not necessarily so. The first part of the full text of the bill pretty much agrees with the title. Basically stating that the PSC will not be allowed to impose regulation on a provider of high speed Internet service in regards to the provision of the service. This for the most part seems innocent enough. Until that is you read the second section of the bill wherein the bill would also disallow the PSC from requiring SBC or other incumbent telephone companies to allow access to their equipment or lines, other than to the degree required by the FCC.

Here is the real kicker of the bill. According to SBC, this will increase competition in the broadband market by putting SBC on a level playing field with the other broadband providers out there. In this case they are mainly referring to cable companies. SBC's basic premise here is the following, "Hey the cable companies aren't required to allow other Internet providers to use their lines why should we have to". So let's see here, how exactly is it that this bill is going to increase competition? Supposedly it will increase competition by repealing the public service commission regulations that were specifically put in place for the entire purpose of increasing competition. Boy that really makes sense to me.

While I would agree with SBC that the cable companies have an unfair advantage in the broadband market since they don't have to share their lines, I don't think that the correct answer to this problem is to allow SBC to create a competing monopoly. I completely fail to see how this legislation even begins to help foster competition in the broadband market. That would be akin to saying that the best way to solve the issues of Microsoft being a monopoly is to provide them with legislation that simply makes it legal for them to be a monopoly.
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