Los Angeles -- Chances that the city will join the fight
for municipal control of high-speed-data platforms appear to be weakening.
One of the biggest champions of the issue, Board of
Information Technology Commissioners chairman Alan Arkatov, suddenly resigned last week.
Further, rumbling from Los Angeles City Hall indicated that
Mayor Richard Riordan and his staff support closed access as the best way to get low-cost,
widespread deployment of new technology.
The four remaining commissioners are scheduled to meet
today (June 21) to discuss the open-access report compiled by city staff members. Given
the political climate, even if the commissioners approve an open-access recommendation, it
appears that the plan would face a stiff fight before the City Council.
Coupled with remarks last week by Federal Communications
Commission chairman William Kennard -- who stated that control on this issue at the local
level would result in chaos -- the events here could scare off other communities waiting
to make final rulings.
For instance, Dade and Broward counties in south Florida
approved open-access regulations locally, but they delayed implementation pending the
release of the court decision on efforts by Portland, Ore., to regulate AT&T Broadband
& Internet Services, and pending Los Angeles' decision.
Now, the Portland ruling appears to support the city's
authority, while avoiding a review of its value as public policy. Kennard's
statements, plus a failure by Los Angeles to lead on the issue, could cause re-evaluation
by other cities.
Some pro-access communities said they want the FCC to lead
on the issue, anyway, as local governments' time and money will be tied up for the
next 12 to 18 months with transfer proceedings resulting from the recent spasm of mergers.