SBC Filing Calls for Franchise Exemption


SBC Communications Inc. provided federal regulators Wednesday with the most extensive legal analysis yet for exempting so-called Internet-protocol-video providers from cable-franchising requirements.

The giant phone company -- which is looking to penetrate cable markets with fiber-rich networks -- has asked the Federal Communications Commission for an IP-video-franchise exemption, triggering a massive regulatory fight with the cable industry that has cropped up not only at the FCC, but also in several state capitals.

In a 35-page report, SBC said that because the IP-video networks and services it intends to deploy have none of the attributes of traditional cable systems, franchising requirements found in federal law are inapplicable.

SBC lashed out at the cable industry, claiming that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association was insisting on the franchise requirement to slow SBC’s entry and competitive choice.

“In the world advocated by the NCTA, an Internet-based video provider in Stockholm would have to get a franchise from every American city before consumers in those cities could obtain its video content over the Web,” SBC said in the filing.