April 06, 2001, 5:35 PM — A Washington trade group on Thursday made a pre-emptive strike against upcoming legislation designed to set the Baby Bells free from long-distance data-transport regulations.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) sent to the entire Congress a letter warning lawmakers against the bill.
Powerful U.S. House of Representatives members Reps. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) are widely expected to introduce a measure to let the Baby Bells provide high-speed data services across regional boundaries, according to Thomas Santaniello, CompTIA public policy manager.
"Soon proposals will come before you to grant the Regional Bell Operating Companies inter-LATA [Local Access Transport Area] data relief," Santaniello warned in a letter. "Make no mistake about it; these initiatives are being driven by a few incumbent local phone monopolies."
Santaniello said that Tauzin and Dingell shortly after the current spring break will likely introduce a bill that will "roll back the clock of a monopoly-dominated industry."
The legislation, Santaniello suggested, will mirror Tauzin's Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 1999, which was co-sponsored by 224 members of the House of Representatives.
Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Tauzin has said time and time again that he is looking to move the Federal Communications Commission away from regulating telecommunications companies based on outdated statutes crafted around the distances that voice or data services travel.
In its stepped-up effort to "educate" Congress, however, CompTIA is urging lawmakers to weigh the upcoming bill in light of the current economics facing the telecommunications community.
DSL companies and the CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers) are already suffering at the hand of Baby Bells unwilling to let those competitors have access to their network infrastructures, Santaniello argued.
"This will just put a spike through the heart of the industry," Santaniello said.