SBC Pushing for Parity with Cable - Multichannel

SBC Pushing for Parity with Cable

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Phone companies are at a market disadvantage because the federal government
requires them to open their high-speed-data lines to competing Internet-service
providers, SBC Communications Inc. said in a recent filing in which it called
for less regulation of its broadband services.

SBC, along with Verizon Communications and BellSouth Corp., is pressing the
Federal Communications Commission to level the playing field by lifting
mandatory-access requirements that apply to digital-subscriber-line service but
not to cable-modem service.

"It is no accident that unregulated cable broadband Internet-access services
enjoy a two-to-one market share lead over wireline-broadband services that are
subject to regulation, or that cable-modem providers have continued to maintain
their lead in the market," SBC said in a 28-page filing with the FCC Aug. 4.

At the end of the first quarter, cable had 12.3 million data customers,
compared with 6.8 million DSL subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group
Inc.

The FCC is expected to adopt new DSL regulations this fall.

WorldCom Inc.’s MCI, AOL Time Warner Inc. and EarthLink Inc. are pushing in
the opposite direction, saying that ISPs require access to Baby Bell DSL lines
to keep the market competitive.

But SBC said that if the FCC were going to apply access mandates, it should
consider the cable industry first.

"Clearly, imposing a mandatory ISP-access requirement on the market leaders
would be less harmful to broadband competition and would be a more effective way
to ensure that ISPs have broadband access," SBC said.

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