SBA calls FCC high-bandwidth notice bad for small business

by Andy Oram

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The Small Business Administration has taken the bold step of intervening in a subtle and highly technical controversy at the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is asking for comment on whether it should relieve incumbent phone companies (basically the Bells and their descendants) of some of the requirements Congress placed on them in the 1996 Telecom Act--requirements that were supposed to permit competition by ISPs and competing phone companies. The FCC is essentially declaring these requirements a failure and is hoping instead for competition between the incumbent phone companies and the cable companies in the area of Internet access.

The SBA is declaring the FCC initiative bad for small business, bad for competition, and ultimately bad for consumers looking for an improvement over 56K dial-up Internet access. This is an important moral and publicity boost for those supporting small ISPs--where innovation is most lively--and the prospects for better Internet service to the public.