The Federal Communications Commission earlier this month voted to no longer require telephone companies to sell DSL services to independent competitors at regulated rates, changing the landscape of the broadband market.

While the decision is final, the public debate is heating up.

“If you deregulate a marketplace that is controlled by two technologies, it’s disingenuous to say you’re creating a free market,” said Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press, a nonprofit media reform organization trying to push affordable broadband access.

The FCC and phone companies have argued that the deregulation will allow large DSL providers to not only compete with cable modem providers, which have long been untouched by regulators, but enhance their service as well.

Consumer advocates like Free Press believe it will decrease the competition by eliminating smaller ISPs from the mix.

It’s also not a given that dominant phone companies will immediately ramp up their innovation.

“The one thing the FCC lacks is a stick to go after the phone companies if they don’t improve their networks,” said Joe Laszlo, research director at analyst firm JupiterResearch in New York.

Read the rest of this eWEEK story: “Broadband Access Debates Speed Up”