|4/24. Rep. Chris Cox
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Rep. Tom Davis
(R-VA) introduced HR 1552, a bill to extend the moratorium
enacted by the Internet Tax Freedom Act through 2006.
The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, of
which Rep. Goodlatte is a member.
4/24. Rep. David Dreier
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Rep. Mike
Honda (D-CA) introduced HR 1553, a bill to repeal export
controls on high performance computers. The bill was
referred to the Committee on International Relations and to
the Committee on Armed Services. See, Lofgren release.
Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) are sponsors of
a similar bill in the Senate, S
|4/25. The U.S.
Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Telemac
Cellular v. Topp Telecom, a patent infringement
case which pertains to U.S.
Patent No. 5,577,100, which discloses a mobile phone
system with internal accounting capabilities for real time
call debiting. Plaintiff, Telemac, obtained the patent in
1996. In 1998, Telemac filed a complaint in U.S. District
against Topp alleging that Topp's TRACFONE system infringed
several claims of this patent. The District Court granted
Topp's motion for partial summary judgment that certain claims
are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b) as anticipated by U.S.
Patent No. 5,631,947. The Court then granted Topp's motion
for summary judgment that none of the claims were infringed.
The Appeals Court affirmed.
|4/24. Rep. Marcy
Kaptur (D-OH), a leading protectionist, addressed free
trade and fast track trade negotiating authority in
the House. She stated that "In Quebec City, President
Bush said, 'Our commitment to open trade must be matched by a
strong commitment to protecting our environment and improving
labor standards.' But then he did a pirouette and he said, 'We
should not allow labor and environmental codicils to destroy
the spirit of free trade.' He had it right the first time.
Those of us on the other side of the argument have been saying
for years that these trade agreements should give individuals
the same rights as multinational corporations."
4/24. Rep. Dana
Rohrabacher (R-CA) addressed trade with the People's
Republic of China in the House. He stated that "Large
financial interests in our country whose only goal is
exploiting the cheap, near-slave labor of China have been
leading our country down the path to catastrophe. ... We have
made a monstrous mistake, and if we do not face reality and
change our fundamental policies, instead of peace, there will
be conflict. Instead of democratic reform, we will see a
further retrenchment of a regime that is run by gangsters and
thugs, the world's worst human rights abusers. ... the barkers
for open markets kept singing their song: 'Most-favored-nation
status, just give us this and things will get better.' It was
nonsense then and it is nonsense today."
1542, The Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of
2001, 4/24 (HTML, TLJ).
|Quote of the Day
|"It's an incumbency protection program, plain and
simple. It shields the Bell companies while emptying a
six-shooter into the heart of new economy companies. It's a
competition killer. That's because in order to benefit these 4
corporate behemoths, thousands of companies will suffer the
consequences. Beyond raising the specter of monopoly providers
in certain regions and markets throughout the country, the
bill accelerates the trend toward monopsony, where there will
only be one buyer. Rather than dozens of companies building
networks and buying equipment we'll have one major purchaser
of manufactured goods and software for the network over vast
regions of the country. That will stultify economic growth and
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), statement
at hearing on HR 1542, April 25.
|4/25. The House
Commerce Committee held a hearing on HR 1542, the
"The Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of
2001." This bill is sponsored by Rep.
Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell
(D-MI), the Chairman and ranking Democrat of the Committee,
and by many other members. It was also introduced in the 106th
Congress as HR 2420.
The 1996 Telecom Act, at Section
271, provides that the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs,
such as Verizon and SBC) may not provide in region interLATA
service (that is, long distance) without first complying with
a 14 point checklist of items demonstrating that they have
opened up their facilities to competitors. The underlying goal
is to create local competition in telecommunications services.
The RBOCs and some members of Congress now seek to exempt
data, but not voice, traffic from the requirements of Section
271. The main thesis which they advance is that doing so will
promote the deployment of DSL service by
the RBOCs, and hence, make broadband Internet access more
widely available. However, this thesis is hotly contested by
The long hearing gave members of the Committee the opportunity
to express their support for, or opposition to, the bill.
Almost all of the members of the Committee attended at least
part of the hearing. Many spoke. Rep. Tauzin said in his
that "To give carriers a greater economic incentive to
deploy broadband services more rapidly everywhere in the
United States, Congress needs to complete the deregulation
begun by the Telecommunications Act by deregulating broadband
services. Currently, there are regulations imposed upon the
broadband services and facilities provided by incumbent local
exchange carriers (ILECs) that are not imposed upon any other
broadband carriers." Rep. Dingell said in his opening statement
that HR 1542 will "make sure that competition for
broadband Internet service is strong; that high speed Internet
connections are delivered to Americans quickly; and, above all
else, that no single sector of the industry is give a de facto
monopoly ..." In a departure from his written statement,
he added that "cable companies now have a fine
Fred Upton (R-MI), the Chairman of the Telecom
Subcommittee, which is scheduled to mark up the bill on April
26, offered his qualified support. He said that "we need
to provide deregulatory parity for broadband -- regardless of
the platform by which it is delivered -- be it by telephone,
wire, cable, wireless, or satellite." He suggested that
the bill will be amended in mark up, particularly to increase
penalties for phone companies which may be assessed by the
FCC. Reps. Rick
Boucher (D-VA), Eliot
Engel (D-NY), Steve Buyer (R-IN), and Gene Green (D-TX)
also offered their support for the bill.
The Commerce Committee often conducts its debates and disputes
in private, and then presents a unified position at its public
hearings and markups. This hearing was an exception. Opponents
of the bill spoke adamantly. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)
said in his opening statement
that "this legislation is highly flawed for three key
reasons. It is undigital, unnecessary, and unfair." He
elaborated that "this legislation creates a technological
land of make-believe where bits travelling through networks
can be magically separated into voice and data. ... Ripping
certain bits out of a network to be treated by regulators
differently turns back the clock. It presents once again the
problem of trying to force certain services into particular
regulatory boxes even as technology renders such
classification antiquated or meaningless." He added that
"This bill is also unnecessary. The Bells dont need
legislation in order to provide digital services. They can and
do offer DSL services today. The Bells dont need
legislation to offer Internet access. Again, they offer such
Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA),
who sits on the opposite end of the political spectrum from
Rep. Markey, found himself in the unusual position of agreeing
with all that Rep. Markey had said. Rep. Cox, like Rep. Markey,
also condemned the scheduling of the mark up just one day
after the hearing. Rep.
Anna Eshoo (D-CA) represents Silicon Valley, and rarely
takes confrontational position in public hearings. However,
she stated that the proposal contained in this bill has been
around for a long time, but "has never been less
necessary than it is today." She said it would harm the
competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). "This bill
drives the last nail into their coffin." She also
questioned whether the RBOCs are interested in providing
broadband services in rural areas. Rep. Chip Pickering
(R-MS) called the bill "fundamentally flawed. It cannot
be fixed." He said that it would "kill competition,
kill convergence." He added that the bill will not pass
in the Senate. Rep. Henry
Waxman (D-CA) said that "my view is that 1542 will do
more harm than good." Reps. Davis, Largent, Wilson,
McCarthy, and Harmon also made statements critical of the
bill, or its underlying premise.
The hearing also gave industry representatives a chance to
state their positions. See, prepared testimony of:
Ashton (Bear Stearns)
Henry (Greenfield Hill)
The representatives of the RBOCs (Tauke and Mancini) praised
the bill. Mancini said it "will encourage broadband
deployment." The representatives of long distance and
competitive phone companies (Cicconi, McLeod, and McGinn)
attacked it. McGinn said the bill "is a poison pill for
the high tech economy."
WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers was not a witness, but released a
in which he said that "This ill-conceived legislation
sounds a death knell for the Internet economy." See also,
statements of opposition from Sprint,
and the ITAA.
See also, statements of support from the RBOCs; BellSouth,
|DT VoiceStream Merger
|4/25. The FCC stated that
it adopted an order approving the applications of VoiceStream,
Powertel, and Deutsche Telekom (DT) for authority to transfer
control of licenses and authorizations held by VoiceStream and
Powertel to DT in connection with the applicants' proposed
merger. See, FCC
release and DT
release. (IB Docket No. 00-187.)
|New Time. 9:00 AM. The
Committee's Telecom and Internet Subcommittee will meet to
mark up HR
1542, the "The Internet Freedom and Broadband
Deployment Act of 2001." This is the Tauzin Dingell
bill to exempt interLATA data from Section
271 requirements. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
9:30 AM. The Senate
Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination
of Theodore Kassinger to be General Counsel of the Department of Commerce. Sen.
John McCain (R-AZ) will preside. Location: Room 253, Russell
Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate
Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, State, and the Judiciary will hold a hearing on the
Department of Justice FY 2002 budget. Location: Room 192,
10:00 AM. The Senate
Judiciary Committee will hold a business meeting. The
agenda includes approval of the nominations of Larry
Thompson to be Deputy Attorney General and Ted Olson
to be Solicitor General. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
11:00 AM. The Senate is likely to begin debate on S 149,
the Export Administration Act.
11:30 AM. The Senate
Finance Committee will hold a hearing on several pending
nominations, including Grant Aldonas to be Under
Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and John
Taylor to be Under Secretary of the Treasury. Location:
Room 215, Dirksen Building.
12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The Congressional Internet Caucus
Advisory Committee will host a panel discussion titled
"Consumer Privacy: The Policy of Choice." Lunch will
be served. RSVP to RSVP@netcaucus.org.
Location: Room SC-5, U.S. Capitol Building.
2:30 PM. The Senate
Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee will hold
a hearing on unsolicited commercial e-mail, and
legislative options to deter it. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)
will preside. Location: Room 253, Russell Building. The
scheduled witnesses are:
Eileen Harrington (FTC).
Jerry Cerasale (Direct Marketing Association).
Jeremiah Buckley (Electronic Financial Services
David Moore (24/7 Media).
Jason Catlett (Junkbusters Corp.).
Harris Pogust (Sherman Silverstein).
David McClure (US Internet Industry Association).
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