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Cable Begins to Address IP Video at FCC

2/03/2005 3:01 AM Eastern

The cable industry is starting to address attempts by SBC Communications Inc. to offer video programming free from traditional cable regulations at the Federal Communications Commission.

Cable’s entry came Friday in connection with BellSouth Corp.’s pending petition at the FCC that it should be allowed to provide “broadband services” without complying with common-carrier regulation, such as selling wholesale access to competing Internet-service providers at regulated rates.

With respect to BellSouth’s request, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association told the FCC that if it grants the relief requested, its ruling should apply not just to BellSouth, but to all broadband providers, including cable operators.

But noting SBC’s separate request that cable rules should not apply to its Internet-protocol platform, which is expected to provide video, the NCTA said the FCC should make it clear that any relief granted to BellSouth is limited to common-carrier regulation and does not include exemptions from cable rules.

Those rules include franchise requirements, franchise fees and various TV- and public-access-carriage requirements.

“This would ensure that the scope of the [FCC’s] decision matches the issues raised … and allow[s] the [FCC] to avoid unintentionally creating a situation of unintended regulatory disparity as to cable operators,” the trade group said.

The NCTA also indicated that the FCC should consider postponing action on BellSouth’s request -- which is designed to achieve regulatory parity with cable-modem service -- until after the Supreme Court decides the Brand X Internet Services vs. FCC case regarding, in part, whether the commission correctly classified cable-modem service as an unregulated interstate-information service.

September