San Francisco Ponders 2nd Access Proposal

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week received an alternative a proposal that would give cable operators 18 months to unbundle their networks.

Board member Michael Yaki released a draft last Monday of what some have described as an industry-friendly open-access ordinance.

Yaki's plan-the details of which were still being drafted late last week-is designed to counter a recent proposal introduced by board president Tom Ammiano.

Yaki's proposal will likely draw the support of AT & T Broadband, which has openly come out against an Ammiano plan that would give all cable operators 18 months to allow area Internet-service providers onto their high-speed networks.

"We haven't seen the Yaki plan, so we really can't comment," AT & T Broadband spokes-woman Jane Young said. "But from what we understand, it's more consumer-friendly and market-driven, which are the very things we feel should decide the whole open-access question."

The Ammiano proposal would also require that AT & T Broadband provide a "single-click" connection that would allow consumers to access the ISP of their choice without viewing the Excite@Home Corp. Web page.

It would also affect RCN Corp., which is negotiating with San Francisco for a cable franchise, but has indicated that it would not oppose any open-access requirements.

Ammiano said he had not seen the Yaki plan, but he understood that it would call for the city to monitor the effects of allowing AT & T Broadband to maintain a closed network. "It's monitor, monitor, monitor-the same B.S. we've heard from the beginning," he added.

San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and most members of the Board of Supervisors are in cable's camp on the access question, Ammiano conceded.

"Sitting here right now, I think that if this comes to a vote, my stuff will not pass," he added. "But we're going to have to wait and see."

Working in Ammiano's favor, he said, is the fact that San Francisco this year goes to district elections. This means board members-all of whom are up for re-election-will have to answer to constituents in their districts if they vote against open access.

"And open access has become a popular issue here," he added.

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