A group of House lawmakers launched an attack on legislation designed to
deregulate the high-speed Internet-access services provided by the four Baby
Bell phone companies.
A total of 11 House members -- nine Democrats and two Republicans -- said the
bill would crush competitors while needlessly deregulating the Bells in a market
that they are already free to enter.
'This is a regulatory quagmire. It sets up a convoluted new regulatory regime
that Rube Goldberg would be impressed with, only Harry Houdini could untangle
and only a monopolist with a well-financed litigation team could love,' the
lawmakers said in an eight-page denunciation of the bill.
The lawmakers' harsh assessment came in a House report on the bill (H.R.
1542) sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin
(R-La.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). Tauzin's committee approved the bill
Democrats who signed the report included Reps. Edward Markey (Mass.) and
Henry Waxman (Calif.). The two Republicans were Reps. Chip Pickering (Miss.) and
Steve Largent (Okla.).
'Such abrupt and ill-considered changes -- with profound implications for
competition and consumer protection -- should not be rushed through the House,'
the lawmakers said.
The Bells said the legislation is necessary to promote competition in the
long-haul Internet-backbone market and their deployment of high-speed-data gear
without having to lease it to their competitors at below-cost