The [Washington] State of Video Competition

Free State Foundation President May Declares State As Competitive Marketplace
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has not embraced AT&T’s proposal to create all-Internet-protocol test markets to gauge the impact of the transition to all-IP delivery, or concluded that over-the-top video is the latest multichannel provider in a market that already includes satellite, telcos and cable.

But Washington has essentially declared the cable marketplace competitive — Washington state, that is.

Free State Foundation president Randolph J. May made that point last week in a blog posting highlighting a ruling from the Washington [State] Utilities and Transportation Commission.

In granting a petition for regulatory relief to Frontier Communications two weeks ago, the commission used the kind of language that cable operators have long sought from competition reports out of the FCC, based in that other Washington.

“Convergence of technologies, providers, and competition is making historic government regulation outdated, as voice, video and data are quickly becoming just packets of information carried on the same networks,” the Washington regulator said in its ruling. “These changes offer the promise of large consumer benefits as well as important economic advantages such as increased jobs, investment, and national productivity. However, these benefits increasingly hinge on the ability of telecommunication providers to meet the demands of consumers without unnecessary or outdated intervention by regulation.”

May wasn’t sanguine about the prospects that Washington, D.C., would follow Washington state’s lead.

“[I]t appears unlikely the agency will consider in a timely fashion the competitive impact of over-the-top Internet video services on traditional cable and satellite video services still shackled by outdated legacy regulations,” he blogged last week.

The most recent video competition report from the FCC said over-the-top was a growing force, but drew no conclusions about its competitiveness beyond echoing its prediction in the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger order that it is “potentially” a substitute for traditional pay TV providers.

“The FCC commissioners and staff could benefit much from an open-minded reading of the Washington state commission decision,” May blogged.

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