Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Telecom Companies Oppose Local Franchising for Video over Internet

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Telecom Companies Oppose Local Franchising for Video over Internet

Article excerpt

The two largest telephone companies in the United States told Congress that their plans to begin offering video services in competition with the cable industry cannot succeed if they must comply with existing local franchising rules.

In recent months both SBC and Verizon have announced plans to offer a new video service using Internet Protocol (IP) technology that will compete with cable.

The companies made their case to members of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet as part of that committee's series of hearings preparing to rewrite the Communications Act.

In addition to the telephone companies, Congress heard from a Comcast executive, David Cohen, appearing on behalf of the cable industry. Whereas in the past the cable industry had opposed any changes to the Communications Act, during the hearing Cohen argued that if Congress offers lighter regulation to the telephone companies offering video, Congress must also change the rules for cable providers.

He said cable "does not oppose" changes to the cable rules, contained in Title VI of the Communications Act. He said "the level of competition today justifies elimination of many of the requirements of Title VI for all providers."

All of the providers complained about the expense and length of franchise negotiations with local government. SBC and Verizon asked for a "streamlined, national franchising process."

Despite the attack on local franchising authority, several good pieces of news for local government also came out of the Congressional hearing. …

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