ISPs fear losing broadband rights

Small ISPs worry that a FCC decison could take away their ability to offer DSL.

A coalition of independent ISPs is launching a lobbying drive to kill a BellSouth proposal, now at the Federal Communications Commission, that they say would be devastating for ISPs.

BellSouth wants federal regulators to end "common carriage" requirements for broadband services. In regular English, that more or less means it doesn't want to have to let other ISPs offer service over its DSL lines. Cable companies already have this total control over their broadband pipes, and the phone companies have chafed over the unequal regulations for years.

As part of their "Gigabyte March on Washington," the ISPs are asking people to write the FCC and tell regulators that more competition in the broadband business is good.

I can certainly sympathize with the Bell companies' frustration at having to compete under different rules than their cable rivals. But continually chipping away at the ability of the independent ISPs to offer competitive service is dangerous. The Internet revolution was not kick-started by the corporate behemoths. It was the small companies that brought people online and kept innovating until the Net became the mainstream phenomenon it is today.

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