WASHINGTON - The explosive growth of the Internet has now reached a plateau and something must be done to move the economy to the next level, Verizon Communications Senior Vice President Tom Tauke told members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce today.
The committee held hearings on the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, H.R. 1542, a bill that is designed to ensure that traditional telephone regulation is not imposed on new broadband services. Regulations put in place by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for voice telephone service will not change.
''The current infrastructure on which the Internet rides has proven insufficient to handle the rapid growth,'' Tauke said. ''To stimulate the infrastructure investment that is required, policymakers must stop applying old regulatory models to this entirely new, competitive technology.
''Without broadband deployment, many local communities will never realize the promise of high-speed Internet, and Internet companies will not be able to reach their markets,'' he said. ''This has had and will continue to have a serious impact on the value of the Internet economy itself and the economy at large.''
Tauke applauded the proposed legislation introduced by Congressmen Tauzin (R-La.) and Dingell (D-Mich.) which would deal directly with this problem. ''This legislation will remove unnecessary regulation that discourages innovation and deployment in data services,'' he said. ''This bill will create more choices for consumers who want high-speed Internet access. Right now, only 7 million American households out of the 50 million online have high-speed access.''
Tauke also told committee members that cable operators serve more than 70 percent of all residential broadband customers, offering these customers high-speed local access bundled with the service of an affiliated Internet service provider. ''Local telephone companies are newer entrants in the residential broadband access market, challenging the dominant market position held by cable operators,'' he said.
''Current public policy has put the Internet on hold,'' Tauke said, pointing out that Congress can address this by establishing one national broadband policy that encourages the investment in and deployment of new and faster services. ''Congress can make these changes, and we think it will, but the longer the delay, the longer consumers will have to wait for services they want and the longer the economy will have to wait for the boost that these new services would surely produce,'' Tauke said.
NOTE: Please click here to access Mr. Tauke's complete testimony
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