NCTA: Cable Regs Apply to IP Video

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Phone companies have no plans to offer video services that qualify for exemptions from cable laws and regulations developed over decades by Congress and regulators, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a long legal analysis filed with the Federal Communications Commission late last week.

SBC Communications Inc. has said that provision of Internet-protocol video falls outside of federal cable laws found in Title VI of the Communications Act. As a result, SBC said, it is not required to go town-to -own seeking permission to deploy video facilities and services.

But the NCTA, in a 33-page paper attacking SBC’s legal reasoning, said IP-video services are effectively indistinguishable from what cable operators can and do provide; thus, since cable operators need franchises for video, so do the Baby Bells.

“Nothing the Bell companies have proposed -- video offerings, IP transmission, switching technology, interactive applications -- is any different from what cable companies now provide or will provide in the near future,” the NCTA explained. “They are all properly subject to Title VI and, among other things, must comply with Title VI franchising requirements.”

SBC and Verizon Communications Inc. want to escape franchising, claiming that the process takes too long and postpones new competition to entrenched cable operators.

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