Groups Tell FCC Consumers Will Be Hurt By Bell Deregulation
Groups Tell FCC Consumers Will Be Hurt By Bell Deregulation
Groups Tell FCC Consumers Will Be Hurt By Bell Deregulation

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    Eight leading public-interest and consumer groups said today that “significant rate increases” to consumers and small business will result if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) further deregulates the Bell companies.

    In a letter to the FCC, the groups opposed requests from Verizon and from Qwest to close off access to their existing copper networks, arguing that granting the requests for “forbearance” as the companies wish “could eliminate competition and raise rates for broadband services for about 40% of all the homes in America.” Signing the letter were: Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, EDUCAUSE, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, and U.S. Public Interest Groups.

    The groups told the FCC: “Unfortunately, Verizon and Qwest are seeking to upend one of the few U.S. policies that has succeeded in encouraging the deployment of affordable, high-speed, competitive broadband services.” Granting the petitions “is likely to eliminate competitive voice and broadband services to the mass market of residential and small business consumers and cause significant rate increases to residential and small business consumers,” the groups said.

    When the FCC granted similar petitions by Bell companies for telecom services for big business, Bell companies increased their market share and “consistently raised their prices to outrageously high levels,” the groups told the Commission. The FCC should not deregulate the Bell companies' services to consumers and small business before there is sufficient competition, the groups said, adding that the rules the Bell companies are seeking to eliminate “are precisely the provisions that other countries are using to achieve greater broadband investment and penetration.”

    A copy of the letter is here: http://www.publicknowledge.org/pdf/fcc-letter-20071113.pdf