Sachs: Cable Offers Crisis Insurance

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Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, cable companies provided a critical alternative communications outlet and bolstered national security in a time of crisis, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs said last Wednesday.

Addressing the Western Show in Anaheim, Calif., Sachs said cable facilities continued to function even though broadcast-TV transmitters atop the World Trade Center were knocked out and phone networks were either destroyed in collapsed buildings, or overloaded due to excessive volume.

"One of the lessons of Sept. 11 is the importance of having competitive telecommunications networks," Sachs said.

He said TV stations in New York that lost transmitters continued to reach cable customers because their studios were linked by fiber to cable headends. Sachs also noted that when dial-up Internet lines were too congested, cable's high-speed networks kept working.

"When telephone circuits were overloaded due to the tremendous volume of calls, broadband networks performed well, enabling millions of Americans to communicate with their families, friends and co-workers," Sachs said.

Sachs' remarks seemed geared to recent policy pronouncements made by Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell and FCC member Kevin Martin, which called for a new emphasis on facilities-based competition over resellers and the leasing of network elements.

"With the growing recognition that multiple communications paths provide an extra and necessary measure of national security, we are likely to see facilities-based competition take on increased importance in Washington," Sachs said.

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