BOSTON: The debate over open access is heating up in Massachusetts, where two coalitions with similar names and very different stances are going head-to-head.
BOSTON: The debate over open access is heating up in Massachusetts,
where two coalitions with similar names and very different stances are
Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli, which represents AT&T and MediaOne, has
organized Consumers and Internet Providers for Technology Competition
(CIPTC), while the Consumer Choice and Competition coalition (CCC),
organized by J. Christopher Grace, a Boston venture capitalist who owns
a lot of America Online stock, is pushing a ballot initiative requiring
that all Internet service companies allow equal, open access to the
Both parties, however, claim to be on the consumer’s side.
’When you have competition, it drives prices down,’ said CCC
spokesperson Stephen Allen. ’People ought to have choices for Internet
access.’ Allen added that without open access, people who connect to the
Internet through cable lines would have to ’click once and pay twice’
for using an ISP other than AT&T/MediaOne.
CIPTC spokesperson Maria Farrah John countered, ’We’re trying to get the
message out that this is not about open access,’ she said. ’There’s not
a groundswell of support for this. It’s one person’s financial interests
(J. Christopher Grace), and it’s going to cost consumers and taxpayers a
lot of money.’
The CCC coalition has gathered 105,000 signatures across the state,
70,000 of which have been certified. The bill is currently before the
legislature, which has until early May to decide whether to take no
action (which would mean the issue goes on the November ballot); vote it
down and possibly offer another alternative; or pass it.
In addition to gathering signatures, Allen said that his coalition has
also been speaking before groups and has made several TV
’It’s early in the campaign, but because AT&T and MediaOne are spending
a lot of dollars, its getting a lot of notoriety,’ he explained.
As of December 31, both sides had raised and spent more than dollars 1.5
million, with AT&T spending dollars 1.1 million on ads and attempts to
remove it from the ballot. Grace donated dollars 600,000 from his own
portfolio. Before the issue is decided, it’s estimated that both sides
combined could spend more than dollars 10 million.
’AT&T and MediaOne will spend whatever it takes to stop competition,’
said Allen. ’I’ve never seen one company spend so much money to keep an
issue off the ballot.’