Broadband Briefings

July 29, 1999

Contact: Audrie Krause
Phone: (415) 775-8674

NetAction Launches New "Bring Us Broadband" Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO -- NetAction today launched "Bring Us Broadband," an online organizing campaign to educate and mobilize Internet users about the advantages of competitive deployment of high-speed Internet access. Details about the campaign are on the web.

"A high-stakes debate is taking place in communities throughout the United States, and the outcome will determine how soon -- and under what conditions -- high-speed Internet access is offered via broadband cable," said NetAction executive director Audrie Krause.

Under the guise of a call for "open access," AOL, GTE, and the regional Bell phone companies have launched a massive lobbying campaign to convince federal, state and local officials, as well as consumers, that AT&T should be forced to provide its competitors with access to the broadband cable network it is planning to deploy.

NetAction's goal is to help Internet users support competitive deployment of cable broadband Internet access within their own communities.

"As a longtime consumer advocate, I've seen my share of corporate posturing, but the unholy alliance of AOL, GTE, and the Bells raises hypocrisy to new heights," said Krause.

She noted that GTE and the Bells are the very same companies that have maintained monopoly control of local phone service by using every regulatory and legal trick in the book to avoid opening their own networks to competitors - as they were mandated to do three years ago when Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996. And AOL recently declared its millions of customers "off limits" to instant messaging via software provided by companies other than AOL.

"If that's an example of AOL's commitment to 'open access,' consumers have good reason to be worried," she added.

NetAction does not believe regulation is necessary to ensure that consumers have choices in high-speed Internet access. Wireless technology is being developed, and competition from cable broadband is already motivating local phone companies to offer DSL service at competitive prices. The "forced access" being advocated by AOL, GTE, and the Bells will simply delay competition and effectively deny consumers the benefits Congress promised when it passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The Bring Us Broadband campaign includes background on the issue, information on how to speak up, and links to other resources. Internet users can also subscribe to a new email alert list, Broadband Briefings, to be contacted about opportunities to speak out before local, state, and federal officials as they consider this issue.

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