9 April 1999 <- Please do not remove this date or distribute this document after 13 April 1999 in order to help reduce spam on the Internet.
Please pass this on to everyone you know before then. Maybe we can make a difference in the very few days left before this goes to the vote.
AT&T was recently given a monopoly on Internet provision over cable television networks they have purchased from TCI. This of course allows them to compete with the Bells to provide telephone service as part of a bundle of services. The Bells are mad, because they have to provide access to their infrastructure to ISPs and CLECs. They are working to fix this.
We all want high-speed Internet access at a reasonable cost. To ensure the cost is reasonable we need competition. What is the competition? ADSL via your telephone line. To receive an ADSL service, all that happens is that you install an ADSL modem at your end of the line and the Telco plugs a line card into the existing switch. But through some magic, the Bell companies are arguing that this comprises an "advanced service" and that having provided it, they do not need to provide access to anyone else. Senator McCain, Republican Senator for Arizona and one of "the 25 most influential people in the United States" according to Times Magazine, has proposed the "Internet Regulatory Freedom Act of 1999". This says that Bell companies no longer have to let competitors into their "upgraded" networks. This is buried in very obscure legal jargon, but the relevant clause prohibits FCC mandates on "wholesale discount obligations on bulk offerings of advanced services".
Putting it simply, there's a hearing scheduled on this bill April 13, in the Senate's Russell Office Building. If this bill passes into law as it stands, we could move from today's 7,000 ISPs and 100 CLECs to maybe 5 of each in the next five years. In terms of Internet and phone access, you'll probably have a choice of two - the cable or the phone monopoly in your neighborhood. The duopoly will charge higher prices and make higher profits than anyone in the business can dream of today. Part of that higher price you will pay will find its way into helping your good representatives in Washington pay the huge sums they need to expend in getting elected and staying popular. At least, staying popular with the monopolies they seem to be so friendly with. If you don't like this idea, why not drop your governor, congressman and senator a line (follow these links for their addresses http://www.house.gov/writerep/ and http://www.senate.gov/ ) and especially send the presidential hopeful, Senator McCain, a line at John_McCain@McCain.senate.gov. His Web page is at http://www.senate.gov/~mccain/ .
Of course, you can call them too! The house and senate directories are also
on-line at the above addresses. Can we block their switchboards?