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Local Carriers' Long-Distance Offering to Be Debated

April 23, 2001|Reuters

Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), are expected to introduce legislation this week to help propel local phone companies into the $30-billion market of offering high-speed, long-distance data services. Local carriers are barred from offering any kind of long-distance service in their home areas until they prove to regulators that their local networks are open to competitors. Verizon Communications, SBC Communications Inc. and the other local phone companies want to be able to offer high-speed data services to companies that could, for example, manage inventories in stores spread across the country via computers. The long-distance giants such as AT&T Corp. and Sprint Corp. have fortified their positions, keeping archrivals from entering the market until they can gain access to local networks. The commerce panel will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the measure and its telecommunications subcommittee is slated to debate the legislation Thursday. A similar bill did not make it out of committee last year.

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