ACA, NCTA Press FCC for Action on CLEC Cross-Ownership

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The American Cable Association is asking the FCC to take action on the petition by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association to forbear enforcement of the FCC's prohibition on cable operators merging with competitive local exchange carriers.

NCTA met with FCC officials in the past week to press its case for the forbearance petition, which was filed over a year ago.

NCTA argues that the current waivers process and the gauntlet of local franchise authorities that has to be run to achieve it is impeding procompetitive deals.

Cable ops argue that the prohibition on cable and telco melds was meant to preserve competition between incumbent cable ops and incumbent local exchange carriers -- AT&T, Verizon -- not between cable ops and competitive carriers to those incumbent telcos.

ACA agrees. In letters to each of the commissioners, the group's president Matt Polka pointed out that cable operators are not dominant providers of local exchange service, and that cable operators primarily service residential customers and CLECs primarily business customers. "[A]lliances between cable operators and non-incumbent providers achieve the procompetitive aims of the 1996 Act, as cable operators bring capital and stability to these competitive entrants who in turn contribute their business telecommunications expertise to cable operators," said Polka.