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Coalition Looks To Ease Broadband Regs

4/15/2002 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Six-industry associations from the consumer electronic, information technology and telecom fields last week announced the formation of the High Tech Broadband Coalition and its intention of asking the FCC this week to alter its regulations to speed up consumers' access to high-speed Internet technology.

In a joint press conference held here, the heads of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Business Software Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, National Association of Manufacturers, Semiconductor Industry Association and Telecommunications Industry Associations expressed their desire for minimal government regulatory controls over the delivery of broadband services to homes and small businesses.

Specifically, the HBTC will request that the FCC allow local carriers to rent space in their infrastructure to other companies for delivering broadband services.

"The HTBC suggests that the FCC refrain from imposing Section 251 unbundling obligations on new last-mile broadband facilities, including fiber and DSL electronics deployed on the customer side of the central office," the coalition said in a written statement.

This would mean that the infrastructure already in place would be governed under the current rules, while newly installed broadband-capable wiring would be accessible to all comers, said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO, Business Software Alliance.

CEA president Gary Shapiro said this situation could ensure that competition exists between the various broadband technologies — competition which he said is necessary to achieve the rapid deployment of high-speed Internet access. If the FCC takes a laissez-faire approach and does not implement Article 251 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the time needed to establish broadband contact along the "last mile" between the delivery services and consumer homes will be greatly reduced, he said.

The HTBC will officially make its desire known to the FCC on Friday.

Holleyman said only 10 percent of home and small business PC users have broadband access and this low figure is having an impact on the development of e-commerce and the telecommunications industry.

The impact of high-speed access to the Web should not be underestimated, said Rhett Dawson, president of Information Technology Industry Council, adding that broadband users account for 50 percent of all the Internet activity.

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