Whitacre bashes cable biz

SBC Chairman Ed Whitacre took the cable industry to task on Wednesday, calling cable the "single biggest obstacle to competition facing America's telecommunications consumer" and the cause of a "stranglehold that is developing in the broadband marketplace."

Whitacre spoke at the National Press Club on Wednesday to press for passage of a bill, sponsored by Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.). That bill would allow incumbent local exchange companies (ILECs), such as SBC, to build out unregulated high-speed data networks. ILECS and the long distance companies, particularly AT&T Corp., are engaged in a heated battle over the bill.

Whitacre said existing regulations on phone companies are not only keeping them from rolling out new high-speed networks, but they are also forcing ILECS to raise their prices for DSL services. Earlier this year, SBC raised its high-speed Internet prices $10 per month, which allowed AT&T in turn to increase its prices $6 per month and still stay under SBC, Whitacre said.
- Paige Albiniak