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Dead Telco Bill

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Dead Telco Bill

Article excerpt

HOW WASIT that the telecommunications bill passed the House by 423 votes to four but met so much opposition in the Senate that it was dropped by its sponsor? The explanations are murky and unsatisfactory.

Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), the bill's sponsor, blamed it on opposition from the regional Bell companies. Spokesmen for some of the Bells deny that, saying they needed the bill. Hollings also blamed Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kans.) for his introduction of amendments.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a co-sponsor of the bill in the House, was dismayed by the bill's failure in the Senate. He said: "The demise of this bipartisan legislation in the Senate means that the information superhighway will be delayed unnecessarily, will not generate as many jobs as it could, will not go to every neighborhood, will be dominated by a monopolist, and will not be open and accessible. We had an historic opportunity to pass legislation updating our communications laws. That opportunity is now gone, and I have trouble seeing another opportunity coming our way."

The battle over control of telecommunications and who should be permitted to supply information services started in 1982 when the Modified Final Judgment of a federal court broke AT&T into seven regional Bell operating companies.

For about five years, the RBOCs fought to get that permission and finally succeeded in convincing the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn U.S. District Court Judge Harold Greene's original ruling barring them. …

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