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Gartner steps up on telecom policy

Sun, 06/17/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

Now it's official. Gartner Dataquest says the bills in front of Congress this month could restructure the telecom industry, will generate intense debate and said in a statement that "additional regulation is not the answer."

Both the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, now with the Rules Committee after last week's trouncing from the Judiciary, and new legislation in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that would "increase competition in the (telecom) industry," are pivotal, the research firm notes.

"These two events will bring together the diametrically opposed positions of the competitors of the RBOCs seeking to gain a competitive advantage through more restrictive legislation and the RBOCs themselves seeking regulatory relief," says Ron Cowles, a principal analyst for the firm's worldwide telecom and networking group.

Debates will be intense, he predicts, and legislators shouldn't be distracted from their goal of providing competitive broadband services.

The '96 Telecom Act hasn't opened the markets, says Gartner Group VP David Rendall. "It is our view that the effect of the over-restrictive rules put in place by the FCC to implement the Act has been to stymie competition, infrastructure investment — particularly with advanced networks — encouraged arbitrage, and has created a litigious environment among the service providers," he says. "More legislation will only exacerbate the situation."

He urges "properly designed incentives and a new regulatory paradigm," and called for an immediate government informational inquiry to determine what's needed for the future "infocosm."

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