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A new can of worms

Wed, 09/27/2000 - 8:00pm
Karen Kessler

In lending its support to a Henrico County, Va. court case, Verizon is asking the 4th circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to redefine cable modem service as a telecom service.

The county is defending its cable open access ordinance, which requires cable companies to open their high-speed networks to multiple ISPs, like the telcos do.

A Verizon lawyer, John Raposa, said that cable companies are poised to choke off the growth and innovation of the Internet. Apparently, reclassifying the service will aid in ensuring that cable companies don't destroy Internet growth by showing preferential treatment or withholding information.

This squirmy issue came to light in December 1999, when the Henrico County Board of Supervisors passed a cable open access ordinance as a condition of transferring MediaOne's cable license to AT&T, as part of those two companies' merger. The cable industry challenged the ordinance, and the court found that the county's franchising authority was preempted by federal law, but did not decide whether cable modem service is really a telecom service or a cable service.

Stay tuned.

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