Illinois Revisits Open Access


Open access is back on the legislative agenda in Illinois, which could spell
bad news for Comcast Corp. and other MSOs in the state.

On Monday, Rep. Steve Davis (D-East Alton) introduced a bill euphemistically
called the "Internet Access Enhancement Act." Its purpose is to open cable's
Internet platform to competitors, and Illinois' cable lobby claimed that the
real driver behind the bill is SBC Communications Inc.

"They've dusted off every old, worthless bill and reintroduced it," said Joan
Etten, president of the Cable Television & Communications Association of

Attempts at open access died two years ago when three federal courts ruled
that Internet access is an information service and, therefore, beyond the
authority of city and state officials.

But the new Illinois bill said it's in the public interest that no high-speed
broadband Internet provider with an affiliated Internet-service provider be
allowed a monopoly, noting that the best way to prevent that is to furnish
"fair, equitable and nondiscriminatory" access to other businesses.

The bill would allow both the state attorney general and citizens to sue an
offending company, setting civil penalties at $2,500 per offense, per day.

The legislation has been referred to the Assembly Rules