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Cox avoids potential trouble, reigns in its cable modem fees

Mon, 12/04/2000 - 7:00pm
Karen Kessler-Tanaka

Cox must be in the holiday spirit. Either that or the courts stepped in. The MSO has stopped collecting and paying cable Internet franchise fees in some Western states because of a court decision that could make the MSO legally liable.

It all began back in June 2000 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that cable Internet access was in part a telecom service, and blocked local governments from requiring cable operators to provide access to competing ISPs - that hairy access issue again.

Cox felt it might be an example waiting to happen if it continued to collect the fees, according to Cox assistant vice president and general counsel, John Spalding. Cox interpreted the court decision that cable Internet service is not a cable service and, therefore, Cox would be better off, for now, not charging customers for the service.

"We felt we had no choice but to take a wait-and-see approach … to see what the FCC and courts do," Spalding said in a statement. "Our position is that Portland said it's not a cable service, and because it's not a cable service, we felt we had no choice but to [stop collecting the fees]."

Cox has stopped fee collection in all states where it has cable systems within the Ninth Circuit: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii.

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