U.S. representatives Chris Cannon (R-Utah) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) lobbed a return volley yesterday to Tauzin-Dingell bill proponents, with the introduction of two bills of their own.
The Cannon-Conyers Package would block the Bells from entering the long-distance data market and would increase penalties for the Bells' failure to open their networks to competition.
A statement from Covad Communications, whose top executives have spoken against the bill in hearings, notes the two bills "include a reaffirmation that the intent of the Telecommunications Act allows competitors to seek antitrust remedies in federal court in conjunction with FCC enforcement. They also provide for a region-wide alternative dispute resolution system for enforcement of Section 251 (of the Telecom Act). This includes allowing a state attorney general to suspend a phone company's ability to jointly market DSL and advanced telecommunications services," if it's found to violate the Act.
Section 251 is the part of the Telecom Act that requires unbundling of network elements, line-sharing and co-location of equipment in the phone company's central office.
The Tauzin-Dingell, or Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, is a hotly contested effort by the Bells to eliminate line-sharing for data. The Bells say it would lend incentive for them to move into rural areas, but would entail cross-LATA boundaries, and the Bells say they'd still be subject to long-distance restrictions regarding voice services. Opponents say eliminating line-sharing would eliminate competition in DSL and bring back monopolies.