Telecom Rivals Call Bush Speech a Victory
Both the Bells and their rivals are claiming President Bush's broadband speech is a victory for their side.Trying to read the smoke signals billowing from the Bush administration yesterday for clues about the governments plans for promoting broadband services, each of the diametrically opposed telecommunications camps interpreted them as a victory for its side. The Regional Bell Operating Companies and their rivals, including the major long-distance companies and competitive local exchange carriers, for two years have been locked in a contentious legislative battle over the future of regulations governing data services. The Bells want the government to eliminate requirements forcing them to give rivals access to the local network, at regulated terms, which they consider unfair. They secured support in the House of Representatives in the form of a bill sponsored by Reps. Billy Tauzin, R-La., and John Dingell, D-Mich. The measure is stuck in limbo, however, because of stiff opposition in the Senate, where critics view it as a way to reduce competition by preventing rival service providers from gaining access to customers. Throughout the heated debate--which is periodically punctuated with obscure radio and newspaper advertisements--the White House has remained quiet and non-committal. Yesterday, however, at his economic forum in Waco, Texas, President Bush spoke at some length about broadband and its importance to the economy.
"In order to make sure the economy grows, we must bring the promise of broadband technology to millions of Americans. My administration is promoting investment in broadband," Bush said. "But government at all levels should remove hurdles that slow the pace of deployment."