Last updated: November 30, 2009 - 4:05pm
Ambitious state and local plans to improve high-speed Internet access with federal stimulus dollars are running into staunch opposition from AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and other private Internet providers. About five dozen public and private entities, including the state, Chicago and Cook County, are vying for a slice of $7.2 billion in federal stimulus grants to promote broadband Internet service. With enough bandwidth, a government-subsidized Internet link also could provide telephone and television service, creating another threat for AT&T and Comcast, as well as smaller carriers. "They see the plug being pulled on their customer base," says Craig Clausen, executive vice-president of New Paradigm Resources Group Inc., a telecommunications research and consulting firm in Chicago. In fighting the proposals, the carriers argue that stimulus projects shouldn't duplicate services they already provide.
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