Whitacre bashes cable biz

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SBC Chairman Ed Whitacre took the cable industry to task on Wednesday, calling cable the "single biggest obstacle to competition facing America's telecommunications consumer" and the cause of a "stranglehold that is developing in the broadband marketplace."

Whitacre spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday to press for passage of a bill, sponsored by Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.). That bill would allow incumbent local exchange companies (ILECs), such as SBC, to build out unregulated high-speed data networks. ILECS and the long distance companies, particularly AT&T Corp., are engaged in a heated battle over the bill.

Whitacre said existing regulations on phone companies are not only keeping them from rolling out new high-speed networks, but they are also forcing ILECS to raise their prices for DSL services. Earlier this year, SBC raised its high-speed Internet prices $10 per month, which allowed AT&T in turn to increase its prices $6 per month and still stay under SBC, Whitacre said.
- Paige Albiniak