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Powell voices reservations on telco dereg

FCC Chairman Michael Powell has refused to take sides in the debate over broadband legislation being crafted on Capitol Hill. But views he expressed Monday on the controversial issue of deregulating telephone broadband services appear to show he has strong reservations about legislation authored by House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, a Powell supporter.

Tauzin's bill would put telephone companies on similar regulatory footing with cable companies by eliminating rules forcing them to carry competing broadband service providers on their networks.

Although cable and local telephone are capable of providing similar services, Powell noted at an investment conference in Washington that they are still dependent on very different core businesses. In the case of local telephone companies, that means their monopoly on wireline voice services. For cable that means one-way video delivery. "You can make a case for asymmetric regulation," he said.
- Bill McConnell