USAToday on Broadband Rollout Obstacles

Ahh, competition — some pretty blunt language here: Bells dig in to dominate high-speed Internet realm [pdf]

To hear BellSouth talk, high-speed fiber lines are the way of the future. So why is it so determined to stop Lafayette, La., a rural community in the heart of Cajun country, from installing its own fiber?

[…] It’s the dark side of the fiber story.

The regional Bell companies have made much of their billion-dollar plans to run broadband networks across the USA. Yet they’re also quietly trying to erect hurdles that would make it hard — or expensive — for anyone to compete with them.

Besides municipalities like Lafayette, the Bells are going after their phone rivals, Internet carriers and major metro areas — anyone with an interest in building services that might compete with the Bells.

Critics say the Bells’ efforts are an attack on competition and that consumers could be the big losers.

[…] “With AT&T and MCI exiting the consumer market, the only way consumers are going to get real competition is through VoIP,” he says.

The big Bells are taking advantage of that retreat by plowing ahead with their fiber deployments. Their plans vary. Only Verizon vows to extend fiber lines all the way to homes. Its customers could see top speeds of 100 megabits or more.

[…] Just a few years ago, the Bells had pledged to run fiber straight to homes. In return, they wanted the FCC to rule that they didn’t have to lease their fiber to rivals who could then turn around and use it to deliver competing services.

Their request went to the heart of U.S. telecom policy. That policy has long been based on the notion that the Bells were obliged to share their networks with all comers.

The rationale owed to the history of the Bells. Their networks were built over the course of a century using monopoly ratepayer money. Like the U.S. highways, the Bell networks have been regarded as a unique infrastructure that had to be open to others on terms that were fair.

But in 2004, in a nod to the changing nature of telecom, the FCC granted the Bells’ request. That concession paved the way for the Bells to deploy fiber to homes.

That’s when the foot-dragging began.

Slashdot: Regional Bells Blocking Broadband Competition