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Ministers MAADD at SBC

SBC Communications Inc.'s $6 billion program to deliver high-speed-data and cable-TV services over fiber-optic phone lines is facing some religious opposition.

The Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide said Friday that the telco “will target affluent customers, amounting to redlining of disadvantaged communities.”

MAADD described itself as an organization of Chicago-area ministers and more than 8,000 members “devoted to bridging the digital divide between those who have ready access to the Internet and those who do not and ensuring that basic technology such as phone service remains accessible and affordable for all.”

“This is another discriminatory scheme disguised as technological progress by SBC," the Rev. James L. Demus III, co-director of MAADD, said in a prepared statement. "These so-called investment proposals by SBC come with one fat string attached: no franchise agreement and, thus, no requirement to invest in an entire community versus only the wealthy parts."

Demus continued, "This is nothing short of digital redlining. SBC is planning to deprive poorer customers of access to $6 billion in vital new technology. We urge municipalities to stand firm and demand that SBC sign contracts that require it not to cherry-pick customers."

MAADD co-director the Rev. Dr. Walter Johnson added, "It comes down to pure and simple greed. At a time when everyone in the country realizes that it is vital for our future generations to bridge the digital divide, SBC seems to be doing all it can to widen it."