By Kim Hart - 10/22/09 12:20 PM EDT
Smaller companies say they are forced to pay exorbitant rates to the big phone companies, which control most of the country’s high-capacity fiber lines. AT&T and Verizon say their rates are competitive and fair.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), whose district includes many tech companies in Silicon
Valley, had heard the complaints about the high rates, but had never
personally dealt with the issue until her office considered signing up
for a high-bandwidth system to communicate with West Coast constituents.
office wanted to set up Cisco’s “telepresence” system, a video
conferencing product that would beam high-quality video feeds between
Eshoo’s Palo Alto and Washington offices. She thought it would be a
great way to meet virtually with companies and constituents during the
week, when she is on Capitol Hill.
But her staff soon found
out that connecting the product to an AT&T line, the sole provider
in her district, would cost upwards of $10,000 a month.
Needless to say, those plans are on hold for the time being. But the experience also got Eshoo, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on technology and Internet issues, more interested in the special access problem. Expect her to be more vocal on the issue in the future.