Washington -- Cable- and phone-industry leaders are united behind a policy
that federal safeguards to protect the roaming rights of broadband consumers as
they surf the Internet are unnecessary when foul play has been alleged but not
In separate speeches here to a group of state regulators Monday, National
Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs and Verizon
Communications senior vice president for public policy and external affairs Tom
Tauke both made clear their aversion to anticipatory regulation of broadband
networks as advocated by the Coalition of Broadband Users and Innovators and the
High Tech Broadband Coalition.
"Their effort to impose a vague, catch-all requirement of nondiscrimination
on broadband-network providers is a solution in search of a problem," Sachs told
several-dozen state regulators and policy analysts at a broadband forum hosted
by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the National
Exchange Carrier Association.
The HTBC is made up of several trade groups including the Consumer
Electronics Association, the Business Software Alliance and the National
Association of Manufacturers.
Tauke, addressing the same group a few hours later, used almost identical
language in expressing his opposition to regulation of broadband networks.
"We think the market is working," Tauke said. "What the FCC [Federal
Communications Commission] should not do at this stage is to solve a problem
that has not yet occurred."
The CBIU is urging the FCC to ensure that cable does not frustrate consumer
access to commercial Web sites that might have colliding business interests with
The group has cited restrictions on virtual private networks (which allow
calling up office computers from home) as the beginning of the slippery slope
toward naked anti-competitive discrimination.
But Sachs rejected that claim, saying that cable-modem subscribers are free
to roam the Net, although cable companies reserve the right to vary access
prices according to a consumer's bandwidth consumption.
"Cable operators have no desire to restrict where a customer can go or what a
customer can do on the Net," Sachs said. "In our view, cable broadband Web usage
should be managed solely by the broadband consumed, not by the character of its
Managing bandwidth consumption through pricing is gaining visibility in the
cable industry as evidence of bandwidth hogging begins to emerge.
Christopher J. Lammers, executive vice president and chief operating officer
of Cable Television Laboratories Inc., told the NARUC-NECA forum that 4 percent
of the nation's broadband subscribers were responsible for generating 50 percent
of the broadband traffic.