In response to the June 28 Perspectives column by Bartlett Cleland, ":"
When I got to the phrase, "When they are forced by the government to allow others to profit from their financial risk," (in reference to the Telecom Act of 1996 and the ILECs) I didn't know whether to choke or laugh.
The "financial risk" in question continues to be blunted by the tax breaks and subsidies awarded to the ILEC "welfare mothers" in exchange for timely DSL rollout and access to their networks. Six years, dozens of antitrust lawsuits and a gut-wrenching spectacle of suffocated CLEC carnage later, the Baby Bells inform us that they are abandoning the planned rate of DSL rollout to instead focus on fiber-to-the-home solutions--which will coincidentally take years to deploy.
In short, the Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) that Cleland proposes we further deregulate have already shown their unwillingness to do anything but strangle competition in return for the check that we, the taxpayers, have already handed them. They know very well that they make more money off all of the additional dialup lines that modems require, and that the quickest way to lose those lines was to allow Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) to offer DSL service via a customer's existing single phone line.
The reason the FCC (very correctly) ruled that cable networks do not have to open their networks to competition is that networks were not subsidized by the hard-earned money of taxpayers--they were paid for entirely by the cable companies. If the Bells want the same latitude, I would suggest they return their hill of subsidy cash to the federal government. Given the recently raised debt ceiling, I'm sure Congress and the Bush administration would welcome such an arrangement.