Sunday, January 07, 2007

Telecom Mergers and Net Neutrality

Tim Wu, who you might recall led the push (along with Larry Lessig) for net neutrality last year, has a great article in Slate about the state of telecom regulation after last week's approval of the AT&T-BellSouth merger. We're basically down to AT&T and Verizon now. As Wu says, Ma Bell is back.

I am fairly impressed, however, with the concessions the Democrats forced on the AT&T-BellSouth merger (Copps's concurrence here). The new entity will operate under a fairly robust net neutrality requirement for two years, will be prohibited from tying DSL to other services, and will be required to provide naked DSL for no more than $20/mo. It will be obligated to offer broadband to 100% of its customers by the end of the year, with at least 30% of new deployments directed to low income and rural areas. It will be divested of some of its wireless spectrum licenses. It will repatriate 3000 overseas jobs to the US. Finally, the FCC reinstituted price-capping on enterprise services for the new company for the next four years. Not bad..

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