News

Comcast: Settle Cable Open-Access Issue

2/14/2002 3:25 AM Eastern

Comcast Corp. is urging the Federal Communications Commission to conclude
that cable operators should not be required to carry third-party
Internet-service providers.

'Leaving this issue unresolved for many additional months is not in the
public interest,' the cable MSO said.

The FCC is expected as early as March to classify cable-modem service as an
information service, which have historically been left unregulated by the
commission.

Some FCC observers have indicated that the agency might launch a rulemaking
seeking comment on whether cable-provided information services should shoulder
some regulation.

Comcast indicated that a new rulemaking would signal a shift away from
leaving information-service providers unregulated, would inject uncertainty and
would 'not promote investment.'

Comcast expressed its position in a Feb. 11 letter disclosing recent phone
conversations on the subject with Susanna Zwerling, legal advisor to FCC
commissioner Michael Copps, and Susan Eid, legal advisor to FCC chairman Michael
Powell.

'The [FCC] has an abundant record on which to decide that cable companies
will not be subject to `forced-access' requirements in connection with their
cable Internet services,' Comcast said.

The cable industry and local governments have been sparring at the FCC over
the legal authority of cities to regulate information services provided by cable
operators.

In the letter, Comcast said Internet service is an interstate service that
the FCC has fenced off from both federal and local regulation.

As a result, the MSO added, local governments are forbidden 'from
establishing requirements for information services in the context of requesting
proposals for a new cable franchise or a franchise renewal.'

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