Washington -- Enacting a bill deregulating data services of phone companies is essential to deny cable a monopoly in the high-speed data market, Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) told a Senate panel Wednesday.
Tauzin and Dingell appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee to drum up support for their bill (HR 1542), which passed the House Feb. 27 by a 273-157 vote.
The cable industry serves about 7.2 million data
subscribers, while phone companies serve about 3 million with digital subscriber
line service. About 80 million households have access to broadband service.
Despite warnings about the cable industry, many senators
from both parties said they were unwilling to release the Baby Bell phone
companies from network-sharing requirements in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
However, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), John Breuax (D-La.)
and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) praised Tauzin and Dingell for forcing Congress to
confront slow consumer adoption of broadband relative to its availability and for focusing on whether regulatory barriers need to be removed.