As expected, Verizon Communications has proffered a bill in California that will ensure that the telephone company may move into the cable business there but only be required to serve communities already within its telephony footprint.
The bill, introduced Feb. 18, stated that current state code governing cable communications "poses a threat to the emergence of cable competition in this state by creating a barrier to entry for telephone corporations seeking to provide competitive cable television."
Under the bill, local franchises would contain the same PEG-access (public, educational and government) requirements as the incumbent's pact. But unlike the incumbents -- which were often required to build out in a specified time frame -- the state bill would allow competitive franchisees to build out "within a reasonable time," a term that is not defined.
The bill did not specify that telcos would pay franchise fees, but it noted that local governments may impose additional terms. Local governments would be required to approve or deny a competitive franchise within six months of application unless a delay was caused by the franchise applicant.
A similar bill was launched last legislative session, but it withered in committee.