Hollings stays strong vs. Tauzin-Dingell

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As the House of Representatives prepares to debate and vote on the so-called
Tauzin-Dingell bill Wednesday, Senate Commerce Committee chairman Fritz Hollings
(D-S.C.) made his opposition to the legislation clear on the Senate floor Monday
night.

Hollings called the bill -- which would deregulate phone companies so that
they could build and operate nationwide high-speed-data networks --
'blasphemy.'

'Hailed as a way to enhance competition, it eliminates it. Touted as a way to
enhance broadband communications, it merely allows the Bell companies to extend
their local monopoly into broadband,' Hollings said.

The bill is casually referred to by the last names of its authors, Reps.
Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Tauzin and Dingell said the country needs the bill to help spur broadband
deployment, arguing that cable and satellite companies can offer broadband
services with virtually no regulations slowing them down, so phone companies
should be given the same right.

The House Rules Committee planned to set the parameters Tuesday night of
Wednesday's debate, during which at least three amendments should be
debated.

One amendment would allow competitors to offer services over the phone
companies' new high-speed networks with access rates set and monitored by the
Federal Communications Commission.

Another would maintain antitrust agencies' authority over telephone companies
as they enter the broadband arena, and a third would increase the FCC's power to
levy fines on telephone companies that break the law, Tauzin said
Monday.

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