'Unbundling' rules under coalition fire

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A coalition of trade groups for technology manufacturers will ask the
Federal Communications Commission Friday to eliminate 'unbundling' rules
that force companies to lease telecommunications lines to their competitors.

'There's no incentive to deploy if competitors can use your
investment,' said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer
Electronics Association, at a press conference Wednesday.

Also in the coalition are the Business Software Alliance, the Semiconductor
Industry Association, the Information Technology Industry Council and the
National Association of Manufacturers.

In
exchange for the elimination of the unbundling mandate on 'last-mile' connections
to customers, the FCC could impose spending and deployment mandates enforced with
fines and other sanctions if companies don't comply, the groups said.

'We are not suggesting deregulation,' ITIC president Rhett Dawson said.

The
High Tech Broadband Coalition supports principles included in legislation passed by
the House last month as part of a bill sponsored by Reps. Billy Tauzin
(R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.).

That bill would deregulate regional phone companies before they had proved to
the FCC that they had opened their local phone markets to competition.

Long-distance companies and competitive local phone companies opposed the
bill, saying it gives the big phone companies an unfair advantage.

A rival coalition, pushing for opposite goals, has also formed between the
Association of Local Telecommunications Services and Comptel. That group wants
the FCC to keep rules in place that would require the regional phone companies
to open their local telephone markets to competition before allowing them to
compete in the interstate data market.

The FCC is receiving comments as it conducts a review of
part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

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