Minnesota KOs Access Study


Minneapolis -- Regulators here last week shelved a pending
review of whether cable systems should be required to lease capacity to other
Internet-service providers.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 last
Tuesday to close the pending open-access docket, citing the time and resources that would
be consumed to investigate an issue that may get settled by the federal government or
market forces, a PUC staffer said.

At a PUC meeting called to discuss how to proceed with the
investigation, representatives of the state attorney general and the state Department of
Commerce opposed closing the docket, Minnesota Cable Communications Association executive
director Mike Martin said. The closure came as a surprise, he added.

"We tried not to look too happy as we walked
out," Martin said.

Tony Mendoza, assistant state commissioner of commerce,
said he would ask the PUC to reconsider its rejection of the open-access investigation.

The docket came out of an agreement that paved the way for
MediaOne Group Inc. to transfer franchises to AT&T Broadband & Internet Services
by separating the access issue from the transfers. U S West and other phone companies
wanted access requirements attached to the transfers.

The transfer was approved Dec. 20, with the MSOs
stipulating that a full and independent investigation into cable-modem-network access
would be done at some future time.

AT&T Broadband and MediaOne officials said in a
prepared statement last Tuesday that they were pleased with the PUC decision, adding that
it was consistent with prior Federal Communications Commission actions and it was another
signal that the access debate should not be settled by government regulation.