NCTA: U-Verse Is a Cable Service

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As traditional cable providers predicted, AT&T is attempting to use a favorable decision by utility regulators in Connecticut to lobby the Federal Communications Commission that its planned U-verse Internet-protocol-video service does not meet the definition of a cable service.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association fired its latest volley Monday when it made a filing to the FCC to counter the latest arguments by AT&T, containing information on the ruling by the board of the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.

Those regulators proactively took up the issue of the new video services and applicable regulatory regimes and decided that IP video is no different than Internet data service and, therefore not subject to franchising. The Connecticut ruling is under challenge by incumbent operators and by other state agencies.

The NCTA filing reiterated its objections to AT&T's stance, arguing that U-verse is no more a two-way service than is on-demand television provided by regulated incumbent video providers, and it decried AT&T statements that the company will deliver new, advanced products if given regulatory freedom.

The NCTA noted that price is the only difference between the video product delivered now as U-verse in San Antonio and that of competitor Time Warner Cable. Also, U-verse does not include HD service or digital-video recorders -- features offered by the incumbent in that city.

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