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'Open access' issue to be debated some more

Tue, 09/12/2000 - 8:00pm
Karen Kessler

The issue of "open" (or to some "forced,") access will be up for debate again this week. The FCC will ponder the question of mandating access to cable systems for Internet services, launching an inquiry that promises to take some time to complete.

Among topics to be examined are the FCC's jurisdiction relative to state and local governments; to what extent regulations must be rewritten for cable to make it comparable with DSL, satellite, or wireless providers; and how the Commission could regulate online access while preserving the free market principles the Internet is based on.

The heated debate over open access was on high about a year ago, then seemed to simmer down after AOL, one of the most contentious whiners, joined Time Warner in a proposed merger. (Open access may be a quid pro quo for closing that deal anyway.)

Don't expect firm rules anytime soon. According to an agency official, there is no set time frame for taking action one way or the other.

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