New Mexico will finally get to tap the high-speed Internet,
following the end of a legal tug-of-war between state regulators and local
phone provider US West.
That state has been the only one in US West's 14-state service area without
digital subscriber line (DSL) service, and has become a glaring example of
how rural areas have been excluded from the boom in broadband services. US
West is now moving quickly to erase this blot from its record.
"This ends two years of legal wrangling and delays," spokeswoman Valerie
Santillanes said. "This will give us the opportunity to roll out DSL here
for the first time."
US West has been a leader among big local phone companies in deploying its
high-speed DSL service, a technology that allows Net traffic and telephone
calls to share existing phone lines. The company has also stepped ahead of
its peers in offering non-traditional products such as a discounted DSL and high-speed WebTV-like services.
But at the same time, US West has been the subject of bitter complaints by some consumers
and Internet service providers. They say the company hasn't maintained its
core phone networks and has made it difficult for independent ISPs to gain
access to high-speed lines.
The company has been engaged in several battles with New Mexico regulators.
Before US West could deploy DSL in some areas, local regulators wanted
access to financial information that the company said was proprietary. For
refusing to relinquish the information, regulators held up the company's
plans for almost two years.
Yet on Tuesday, state regulators finally retreated, voting to allow US West
to proceed with previous plans, representatives for the state regulators
US West plans to launch DSL services immediately. However, it will probably
take four to six months before the appropriate equipment can be installed
and brought online, Santillanes said.
The company says that New Mexico's three largest cities--Albuquerque, Santa Fe and
Las Cruces--would be likely to get the service soon, with other areas to