And Then There Were Two: Cable And Telcos Don't Have To Let Anyone Else In

from the level-playing-field? dept

As was widely expected, the FCC voted today to reclassify DSL as an information service rather than a telecommunications service. What that means, is that it gets the telcos out from under line sharing rules and means they no longer have to allow competitive carriers to offer DSL on their lines. As the FCC will no doubt claim, this does further level the playing field between cable companies and telcos — but certainly tilts it against anyone else. The reason telcos were supposed to share those lines is because most of those lines were set up when AT&T was a government backed monopoly — so it gives them a bit of an unfair advantage. Still, while this clearly does favor the big incumbents, it’s not a big surprise. Also, given that the FCC had already freed the telcos from having to share their new fiber lines, this just quickens the pace at which other providers will have to find alternative means of offering service. It’s bad news for a number of smaller providers who were offering DSL — but (hopefully) will spur additional investments in technologies that completely route around these incumbents, such as wireless offerings.

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Comments on “And Then There Were Two: Cable And Telcos Don't Have To Let Anyone Else In”

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Bob Dole says:

Line sharing isn't the point.

You missed the main point of the ruling — it means telephone regulations don’t apply to DSL. That’s a huge step forward. Among other things, it means FCC will be phasing out universal service fund charges and other taxes that currently jack up the price of DSL. It means states won’t have jurisdiction to add their taxes to the service. Basically, it throws away heaps of rules that otherwise would apply to DSL, but not fiber or cablemodem.

spam says:

Re: Line sharing isn't the point.

And guess where they’re going to make up that revenue?

Taxing VoIP services. So I’ll pay that stupid USF tax on my landline, and my VoIP service.

Oh, they’re also going to go after wireless carriers for it. So my landline, VoIP, AND my WIRELESS PHONE will be taxed to pay for the USF.

More taxes that are straight up WELFARE. (The USF funds services in rural areas. Then when those people get service, they also get to pay the USF. What a crock.)

Sofa King Stoned says:

Victim Impact Statement

We are moving in September and I was thinking of ditch SBC DSL (which I’ve had forever) and going with the SpeakEasy/Slashdot branded service (just for shits and giggles). This ruling makes me hesitate to do that, now that it seems that SBC won’t have any obligation to line-share with anyone else.

Bob Dole does make a good point, though. Hopefully there will be some upside to this.
(Who’d a thought Mr. Dole would have developed such insight after he left the senate. Still taking Viagra, Mr. Dole? How’s Elizabeth? Bob Dole, the anti-dorpus)

Michael Meiser (user link) says:

Please reblog this!

I beg of you to do more research on this even in light of the most recent network neutrality events and reblog about the issue.

This is the sneaky arse mother fracking reason why network neutrality is an issue right now in the first place. You even overlooked it in this very post. This doing away with so called “common carrier” requirements doesn’t just reduce competition between ISP’s. This is precise point where network neutrality was dumped and no one ever even noticed. Not even you. It didn’t occur to me until I heard a couple of debates on NPR on network neutrality. The smarky Telco spin doctors / astroturfers saying we never had this regulation and therefore don’t need it and someone, not Siva Vyanathan, but another gentlman called them on it. It took me a while to find what he was talking about, but here it is.

In the early days of the internet almost ALL home access crossed telephone wires and was therefore protected under so called “common carrier” laws in effect since the breakup of Ma Bell. As broadband has come about though more and more of the last mile is being delivered over cable which never had these common carrier restrictions.

This is particularly important to point out because astroturfers and spin doctors for the Telco’s are arguing that in fact these network neutrality bills are “pro-regulationism” and that the internet was never regulated in this manner and we haven’t had any past problems so therefore we don’t need any net neutrality regulations.

Well, we have had several cases not just in canada but in the US in the past year, and we also did have some regulation on broadband providers right up until this point in August 2005 when the FCC made the distinction between traditional telephone services and internet services in the last mile freeing Telco’s to descriminate based on all manner of content.

Feel free to email me at techdirt at

Your comments don’t have a checkbox to be emailed responses to my posts so I have no way notification system to alert me if there is some follow up on this issue.

-Mike of

Confused! says:

Who Where What When Why

Ok, I can see the sign from my front door that says, “Do not dig – Buried Fiber” and my only option for internet at a fair price is Wildblue satellite which I get from who else but AT&T as a reseller for WildBlue. It seems odd to me with all these FCC folks working for the public interest (riiiight!!) that we’d have FTTC when the trench is in your yard. I called AT&T and they have no plans (public) to let me know when and if I will ever get higher speed from their fiber. Living in the country is nice but communications suck.

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