Cable to Rail Against SBC-AT&T


Washington -- Cable won’t hold its tongue over SBC’s $16 billion plan to buy AT&T.
Immediately after the deal was announced, NCTA president Robert Sachs signaled that the cable lobby no longer had merger laryngitis.
“The proposed combination of the largest and second-largest telephone providers in SBC’s 13-state region raises obvious antitrust concerns that regulatory authorities will have to scrutinize carefully,” Sachs said in a statement.
Cable’s focus was on the competitive threat an SBC-AT&T would pose --  in voice and in video. SBC has announced plans to spend $4 billion to make fiber upgrades and offer what it calls IP video to 18 million homes by 2007.
To cable’s consternation, SBC wants to provide video unfettered by traditional cable regulations. “I think the SBC-AT&T merger, going before the [JusticeDepartment], the FCC and half the states in the U.S, provides an appetizing gauntlet for cable and localities to hammer SBC’s no-video-franchise position,” Precursor telecom analyst Scott Cleland said.