BACKGROUND -- The United States House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) that will encourage competition and consumer access to broadband Internet technology. The following response should be attributed to Tom Tauke, senior vice president for Public Policy and External Affairs at Verizon.
"Today's victory in the U.S. House of Representatives is a victory for every American consumer who wants choice of and access to high-speed Internet service. Verizon applauds the Members of the House of Representatives, especially Chairman Tauzin and Representative Dingell for their leadership on this important issue.
"A majority of both the Republicans and Democrats in the House voted for this bill. This is a vote that sends a strong message to the U.S. Senate and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the status quo is not good enough for the American consumer or the American economy.
"In fact, recent studies show that policies like the one adopted today in the House will lead to putting $500 billion dollars back to work for the nation's economy and adding 1.2 million new high-tech jobs for American workers.
"That's why this bill is supported by the Communications Workers of America, the AFL-CIO, the National Black Chamber of Commerce and numerous other third parties.
"This policy change is sorely needed. America is still in an investment-led recession. This is exactly what the economy needs. This will make billion-dollar investments in the Internet make sense again. In addition, this bill ensures that companies like Verizon continue to provide access to our competitors but at a rate that will spur new and much-needed investment.
"Today's vote also makes it clear that the Congress supports a national broadband policy and will not tolerate a patchwork approach to 'regulating' the Internet as advocated by many state regulators and governors.
"Consumers everywhere want faster and higher quality Internet services. Current regulatory barriers stand in the way of delivering those services to all Americans. Today's vote is a vote to clear away the regulatory roadblocks and lift the gateway to vigorous competition on the information superhighway.
"The U.S. Senate will now take up the debate. We urge senators to consider that the ultimate winners in changing the status quo will be consumers who want to access the Internet at higher speeds and through better, higher-quality connections. Public policies such as those espoused in this legislation will lead to more choices in the marketplace and a healthier, stronger World Wide Web."
The U.S. House of Representatives today moved to usher in a new era of telecommunications competition and investment by overwhelmingly approving the Tauzin-Dingell Bill (H.R. 1542) on a bipartisan vote.
This legislation will update America's telecommunications laws for the dynamic broadband market, creating powerful incentives for investment in new fiber-optic networks ... enhancing competition for broadband services ... and providing a critical boost to our technology sector.
The Old Regime:
Existing regulations impose onerous restrictions on telephone companies that discourage investment in broadband networks.
Tauzin-Dingell removes regulatory barriers to encourage investment and speed broadband deployment.
PROMOTING COMPETITION, BENEFITING CONSUMERS
The Old Regime:
Because the existing regulatory playing field is so sharply tilted toward cable companies, which are completely unregulated, cable dominates the broadband market, controlling approximately two-thirds of all customers.
Tauzin-Dingell starts to redress this imbalance and will allow telephone companies, both large and small, to launch a viable challenge to cable's dominant position and offer consumers greater choices.
REVIVING AMERICA'S HIGH-TECH ECONOMY
The Old Regime:
After driving record economic growth in the 1990s, America's information technology industry has slumped in recent years; technology investment actually dropped by $75 billion last year.
According to economists Robert Crandall and Charles Jackson of the Brookings Institution, widespread deployment of broadband will generate an additional $500 billion a year in benefits to our economy.
CREATING NEW JOBS
The Old Regime:
In 2001, more than 317,000 telecommunications workers lost their jobs -- the most of any U.S. industry.
A study just released by the New Millennium Research Council estimates that accelerating the broadband buildout will create an additional 1.2 million new and permanent jobs.