California Win for Cable

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WASHINGTON — California cable operators have won a legislative victory they say will allow them to invest in IP-based services — like voice over Internet protocol — by removing the threat of unnecessary regulation.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed the bill into law, appeared to agree. In a letter to members of the California Senate, he said that with consumer safeguards in place, the bill would spur the growth of “innovative services that have become a hallmark of our state.”

The law limits the regulatory authority of the state’s Public Utilities Commission over VoIP and IP-enabled services (voice, data, or video) in the state until 2020.

Brown pointed out that VoIP providers will continue to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, provide e911 access and were still subject to consumer protection laws, as well as public-utility commission oversight of pole attachments.

But the bill does prevent PUCs from regulating IP video, voice and data services on their own initiative, limiting them to actions expressly delegated by federal law or directed by statute.