Politics: How A Recent Court Ruling Could Affect Your High Speed ‘Net Access

Recently the Supreme Court ruled that a small DSL provider did not have a “right” to access the cable lines of a cable company. The Washington Post reports that Brand X [a small California ISP) argued unsuccessfully that cable companies, like phone companies, should be required under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to share their lines with third-party broadband providers. The Court sided with the FCC, however, upholding the cable companies’ long-standing practice of excluding most third-party broadband providers from their networks.
If only large companies can afford to build their own broadband lines to businesses or homes to offer high speed Internet access new providers may have a harder time (or impossible time) offering competing service.
Existing cable and telephone companies have lines wired into most every business and home so by default they can already offer high speed access.
On the OTHER hand, is it right to force Verizon, SBC, Time Warner or any other “pipe owner” to provide access (even for a small fee) to their data lines to a competitor?
One side effect is that the telecommunication companies will have less of an incentive to invest millions/billions in their telecommunication lines if they know they must share it with others.
The Washington Post writes further t may be a bit premature to sound the death knell for DSL mom-and-pops, however. The phone companies make a nice profit by leasing DSL lines wholesale to large ISPs. But while a deregulated phone industry would likely continue to do business with large DSL providers like EarthLink, the future is murky for smaller players such as Brand X, which don’t generate much profit for the telcos. “Many smaller ISPs will get bounced out,” predicts Jim Murphy, president of DSL Extreme, a Winnetka, California, broadband provider with 50,000 subscribers.