AT&T Not Shifting on Cable-Modem Regs

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Some in the cable industry wondered whether after selling its cable systems
last year, AT&T Corp. would renounce its prior position and call on the
Federal Communications Commission to impose various access obligations on
cable-modem providers.

AT&T answered that question May 1, telling the Federal Communications
Commission that retention of access rules on digital-subscriber-line services of
the Baby Bells was not a justification for extending those rules to cable-modem
service.

AT&T said DSL-access rules remain important because phone companies want
to transition customers from dial-up service to high-speed Internet service
without the latter cannibalizing the revenue of the former in a disruptive
fashion.

"Cable-modem services, in contrast, are cable companies' first Internet
offerings. As a result, increasing broadband deployment and revenues are much
more unambiguously positive for cable companies," AT&T government-affairs
director Frank S. Simone said in a three-page letter.

AT&T also argued that whether or not multiple broadband providers emerge,
applying access rules to cable-modem service would impose burdens ("lengthy and
costly implementation") that would outweigh the benefits of symmetrical
regulation.

"Conversely, the upfront work of implementing access regulation for [phone]
carriers has already been undertaken," Simone said.

A cable-industry source recently predicted that AT&T would refrain from
urging cable-modem regulation because the company did not want to trigger the
formation of a cable-Baby Bell alliance at the FCC.

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