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Hollings stays strong in Bell opposition

While he said he welcomes all new ideas to the debate, Senate Commerce
Committee chairman Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) was fairly clear that he opposes the
broadband-deregulation bill introduced by Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Don
Nickles (R-Okla.) this week.

"This legislation in the name of 'parity' is nothing more than a Trojan horse
to deregulate the Bells and extend their monopoly," Hollings wrote in a "Dear
Colleague" letter sent around the Senate. "The Bells and their CEOs are out and
about arguing that they need to be deregulated so that they can fuel a broadband explosion
and finally deliver on the promise of the Information Age. We've heard their
promises before, and we know the truth. There is not now, and there never has been,
any prohibition on the Bells offering their customers broadband."

The letter outlines in great detail why Hollings is so opposed to
deregulating the incumbent phone companies, focusing on the notion that the
companies have repeatedly failed to deliver on promises they have made to

"Please don't be misled by the Bell claims for parity," Hollings wrote. "If
there were ever a bait and switch, this is it. Their lawyers and lobbyists have
been at this for some time. I know them well. With this parity push, they want
to avoid opening their markets to competition when it comes to broadband. With
this approach, we can kiss competitive telecom carriers goodbye and extend the
Baby Bells' monopoly into the lucrative broadband market for business

Hollings said there is no shortage of broadband access in the United States except in
rural and underserved areas, and he plans to introduce a bill Thursday or
Friday to remedy that problem.