Sununu: New Bill to Address IP Video

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Senate telecommunications legislation next year will likely address Internet-protocol video in broad terms, with an emphasis on deregulation, Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) said Thursday.

“The goal is to create a clearer regulatory framework and limit regulation in this area,” Sununu said at a conference sponsored by the Phoenix Center, a telecommunications-policy group.

IP-video issues, he added, would be included in broader provisions dealing with IP-enabled services, whether voice, video or data.

“I think we can create a fair-minded, clear regulatory framework for IP-enabled services, and then, if it’s really an IP product, you would potentially be covered,” Sununu said.

Earlier this year, Sununu sponsored a bill that removed state authority over voice-over-IP services, but the legislation did not advance beyond the Senate Commerce Committee on which he serves.

He said he was hopeful that a new law would pass in the next Congress.

“I think if we get a bill off the floor of the House and Senate by the end of the year, we have at least a modest prospect of getting a conference report completed by June of ’06,” he added.

Sununu also touched on a dispute between SBC Communications Inc. and the cable industry. In offering IP video, SBC does not want to line up local franchises, nor comply with traditional cable-TV regulations.

Earlier this week, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs accused SBC of wanting to engage in redlining -- the bypassing of low-income and minority communities. Cable law prohibits redlining.

“SBC is being a little coy here,” Sununu said. “If I were SBC, I would love to be regulated like a cable company. What regulation is that, except for franchise fees?”

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