House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is expected
to unveil legislation Monday that would deregulate Internet services provided by
the four Baby Bell phone companies.
One day later, Tauzin is planning to hold a hearing on the bill in the full
committee, bypassing the usual step of referring the measure to the
Telecommunications Subcommittee headed by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said Upton's panel was not being bypassed. He
added that the panel would get the first crack at amending the legislation.
'Billy wanted a broader venue for the bill.' Johnson said. 'It's safe to say
that we are going to move this legislation fairly quickly.'
Last year's version of the Tauzin bill -- which had a majority of the House
as co-sponsors, but only tepid support in the Senate -- was opposed by the cable
industry generally and by AT&T Corp. in particular.
The bill would allow the Bells to transmit data across local market
boundaries without having to open their voice networks to competitors. It would
also allow the Bells to deploy high-speed Internet-access facilities without
having to lease or resell them to Internet-service-provider competitors.
'I suspect that for the most part, it will be the same bill as we had last
year,' Johnson said.