Broadband communications technology is in the news and legislation could be imminent. Consumers and many political leaders seem frustrated that the residential penetration of broadband Internet services-through DSL, cable, or satellites-remains below 10 percent. Others respond that the rollout of broadband-which allows huge amounts of data, music, voice, and video to move at high speed to computers-is as rapid as can be expected and even somewhat remarkable given the short time it has been available.
One of the more controversial aspects of the debate over government policy toward broadband is whether the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) should continue to be required to lease their broadband facilities to independent providers of the service, a requirement not imposed on cable and satellite providers. Under legislation sponsored by Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) in the House of Representatives, the RBOCs would be freed from this obligation. The full House is scheduled to vote on this proposal in late February or early March. If it passes, it will move to the Senate. Meanwhile, the FCC is in the process of proposing a rule that would effectively accomplish the same thing as the Tauzin-Dingell legislation.
The AEI-Brookings Joint Center is pleased to host a debate on the Tauzin-Dingell bill and the FCC’s intended proposal, and more generally, government policy toward broadband, that will feature two recognized experts on the subject: