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Beating The RBOCs Is Hard Work

I had an only-in-Silicon Valley moment earlier this week, when I went to visit an up-and-coming startup in the application-acceleration market. Their new fancy offices, leased at the astonishing price of $1 per square foot, used to be the headquarters of DSL provider Covad, a company now just a shell of its former self.

In the wake of yesterday's decision
by the Bush administration that pretty much gives the RBOCs control of the local loops, you have to wonder why anyone would try to innovate in the telecom service market, given that it's a battle against well funded-opponents.

The ghostly Covad logos still affixed to the empty office buildings are a Dickensian warning to anyone who would dare take on the lobbying and legal might of the RBOCs, who are much better at paying off fines than they are at delivering innovative services.

Granted, Verizon says it is spending to deliver fiber to the home, and even BellSouth is talking up VoIP. And maybe sanity will previal, and telecom rivals will learn to strike deals for access amenable to all, before cable and wireless services eat their lunch. In the short term, however, the only news seems to be higher bills for consumers and enterprises, and more hurdles for innovators. Hard to see how that's going to help us get more broadband access

by 2007, without some speedy assistance.