FCC's Martin Wants DSL Dereg

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Washington— In a speech bemoaning the Federal Communication Commission's sluggish pace at solving broadband policy issues, Republican FCC member Kevin Martin Thursday called for immediate agency action that would include gradual deregulation of digital subscriber line service.

When the Baby Bell phone companies offer DSL, FCC rules require them to sell high-speed transmission on a nondiscriminatory basis to unaffiliated Internet-service providers — an open-access mandate that does not apply to cable.

Martin, endorsing regulatory parity between DSL and cable, said that in an effort to promote incumbent deployment of advanced technology, the FCC should eventually cut off DSL access mandates for ISPs.

Martin said the nondiscriminatory DSL access mandate could remain "for two or three years, but then sunset unless the FCC extends it to all broadband providers."

Martin's speech was notable because he repeatedly expressed concern that FCC inaction on major broadband issues may have allowed the telecom sector's problems to worsen — a comment some viewed as a criticism of fellow Republican FCC chairman Michael Powell.

An outspoken Martin, who essentially stated how he would vote on several key issues, also broke with Powell's informal rule that the FCC members and staff shouldn't reveal policy preferences and outcomes before decisions have been formally declared.

In his remarks, Martin said he favored banning competitor access to newly installed fiber-to-the-home facilities, especially in states that the Bells have opened to competitors.

Martin said he would also remove line-sharing requirements on the Bells in residential markets where cable provides competing broadband service.

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