SNAP CALL

City Hall makes a quick pick in an ugly battle over Internet and phone service. Prepare to pay the price.

The mayor says his decision to sign the bill was vindicated by a Nov. 18 FCC ruling that requires local phone companies to open their lines to competitors who want to offer DSL service. He said he anticipated the FCC's action. "I took somewhat of a gamble that they would," he says. The FCC decision is designed to get as many competitors as possible into the broadband business to speed the spread of the high-speed highway and to give consumers a choice of DSL providers. As Harmon sees it, AT&T will be forced to upgrade its cable system to avoid losing market share to companies offering DSL. Like Slay, he doesn't take seriously AT&T's threat to delay a system upgrade. "A lot of that was hype," he says. "Ultimately, everybody's going to offer this stuff. There will be competition. It will be different than what we've probably heard from either of the major competitors."

But Harmon can't guarantee he's done the right thing.

Mayor Clarence Harmon, an early supporter of open access, says past cable scandals were one reason he delayed signing the open-access bill for two weeks. "I was initially concerned it was dealt with so quickly by the Board of Aldermen," he says. "I became convinced it wouldn't stifle competition."
Jennifer Silverberg
Mayor Clarence Harmon, an early supporter of open access, says past cable scandals were one reason he delayed signing the open-access bill for two weeks. "I was initially concerned it was dealt with so quickly by the Board of Aldermen," he says. "I became convinced it wouldn't stifle competition."

"All of what I've told you may ultimately prove to be the wrong move," he says. "History will judge that."

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