H.R. 2420: Bad News for Consumers

NetAction opposes H.R. 2420, The Internet Broadband & Deployment Act of 1999, because its passage would effectively deny consumers the benefits of a vigorously competitive telecommunications marketplace. These benefits were promised to consumers four years ago, but never delivered.

H.R. 2420 would undermine a key provision of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by effectively opening the long distance market to the nation's local phone monopolies before their local markets are in compliance with the Act's requirement that they be competitive. The bill accomplishes this by allowing the incumbent local carriers to begin offering data services across long distance boundaries. Since technological advances have eliminated the distinction between voice and data traffic, passage of H.R. 2420 would allow voice traffic to be carried over data networks, eliminating the last remaining incentive for local competition and allowing the Bells and GTE to retain their monopoly grip on consumers.

Why Congress Must Reject H.R. 2420

  1. H.R. 2420 rewards companies for bad behavior! The incumbent local phone companies have done everything they can to resist the law – delaying, stalling, and filing scores of lawsuits. Why reward them for doing wrong?

  2. There's no need to do anything. As soon as the RBOCs open their local markets to competition, as Congress has mandated, they will be allowed into long distance and will be able to offer any service they wish across LATA boundaries.

  3. Rural communities aren't being left out. Competition is working and new competitors, including some of he RBOCs, are rolling out new technologies in rural communities.

  4. Competition from cable broadband has forced the incumbents to finally deploy broadband technologies like DSL.

  5. Making changes to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 will discourage investment in new technology. If the rules are uncertain, investors will lose confidence. We're finally benefiting from the millions of miles of fiber that have been laid in the last three years.

  6. Telecommunications law won't benefit consumers if it's constantly being changed. Congress has set the rules and the courts have confirmed them. Let's give them a chance to work.

Why the RBOCs Can't Be Trusted

The price of almost everything in technology and communications is dropping dramatically. Computers, software, Internet service, long distance calls, networking expenses - all cost much less today than they did a decade ago. The one exception is local phone service. This is because the RBOCs haven't been faced with competition. In essence, the whole technological revolution has largely passed them by. Creating a loophole in federal telecom law is not going to change that.

The nation's RBOCs represent the absolute worst aspects of traditional monopolies. They are slow, weighed down with bureaucracy and are solely interested in defending their market share, not in providing innovative new technologies and services to their customers. The RBOCs have an abysmal record of keeping their promises, and their history of broken promises is just as bad at the regional and state levels as at the federal level. And the RBOC's hypocrisy is legendary.

To let your representatives in Congress know you oppose this bill, visit the Consumers Voice web site. http://www.consumersvoice.org/communicator.asp

< Broadband Home >< Cable Impacts Telephone Service >
< Take Action >< FAQ >< Glossary >< Broadband Briefings >< Resources >