What's relatively rare is to hear a black minister make the obvious points about the discriminatory effects of this policy so starkly. (There's a group in Chicago making the same complaint.)
Some of the good bits:
The giant telephone monopolies -- AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth and Qwest -- have launched an unprecedented push to effectively eliminate the only non-discrimination provision in federal law that prohibits redlining by any telecom company providing "video services." They ask legislators to bless a dubious business plan to bring their new TV services only to wealthy neighborhoods...
For the cable industry, that law has resulted in more than a $100 billion investment in new networks and today represents the closest thing we have to a universal broadband policy. Rural communities and inner cities are considered as important as the wealthy suburbs.
But the Bell telephone companies appear to have much meeker goals. With strange fervor, they are insisting that Congress and state legislatures exempt only the Bell telephone companies from the non-discrimination provisions...
As the late C. Delores Tucker, founder of the National Congress of Black Women, argued, it is the "(phone) monopolies that want to trample our civil rights traditions."
AT&T's proposal, for instance, is known as "Project Lightspeed." Months ago, its executives said that its bold new broadband service would be rolled out to 90 percent of its "high value" customers but only 5 percent of "low value" customers. Chaffing at what seemed to be an open admission of redlining, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, whose subcommittee oversees telecom policy, accused the company of offering "Lightspeed for the well-off and 'snail-speed' for everyone else."
A point of clarification: This essay could lead the reader to think that what was happening is that a federal law was about to be overturned. But that is most emphatically not the case. What the Bells are angling for is new federal laws to be imposed that would forbid local governemnts from demanding that corporations who want to rent municipal property (rights of way, poles, etc.) treat all of their citizens equally.
That really ought to not be something that the feds are trying to prevent us from doing for ourselves. And thats' something we might feel a bit more acutely today.