The Last Nail in the Coffin
Though this article is rife with acronyms, it is worth a read as it discusses the near death experiences of many Competing Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs). CLECs are those guys who get to compete with the Baby Bells using their own equipment because of federal regulations. Because of these laws, you can buy your DSL from more than one company. Even if it all goes through the same equipment, you can choose to purchase the service from various companies based on other criteria, not the least of which is support. Recent hints from the FTC suggest that DSL deregulation is in the works. At the moment, it would seem that the only thing standing between many CLECs and certain doom is the a few disconcerted Senators.
Local Government Steps In
And while the federal government is nixing DSL regulation, some state authorities are stepping in. As ominous as deregulation sounds to CLECS and their customers, the thought of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regulating Internet service should strike fear into the hearts of consumers everywhere. Rolling blackouts, anyone?
And Getting More Local...
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is looking to offer Internet Services to backbone providers, the companies that ISPs connect to, thereby providing the infrastructure for the Internet. They liken it to "the turn of the century, when the Edison companies would not offer power to the entire country, preferring to stay in lucrative larger markets." With large chunks of the Cape completely devoid of affordable broadband options, we would seem to be evidence to this assertion. The LADWP argues that they can provide the service much cheaper than private enterprise while fostering the growth of multiple consumer level broadband options.
Consumers Take Action
So, while the federal and local governments duke it out with the Baby Bells and CLECs, some Colorado residents have taken matters into their own hands. They have formed a DSL cooperative, providing broadband services out of a barn to 40 neighborhood homes. The article details how, even with regulation, Qwest was reluctant to provide the residents with access to the phone lines to set up such a service. The matter was finally settled in arbitration before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.