FCC ruling: Multiple ISPs not forced on MSOs

Tue, 04/30/2002 - 8:00pm

In a 3-to-1 vote that marked a huge win for the cable industry, the Federal Communications Commission declared in mid-March that cable modem service is an information service, rather than a telecommunications service, meaning MSOs are not required to allow outside ISPs onto their high-speed networks.

Time Warner Cable, however, is required to open up its network because of regulatory stipulations surrounding its merger with AOL. Phone companies, meanwhile, are still required to open up their networks to rival ISPs.

The FCC ruling didn't come down without an outcry, however. EarthLink Inc., which has multiple ISP arrangements with MSOs such as AT&T Broadband and Time Warner Cable, called the decision "bad law and bad policy."

"The FCC fails to make the fundamental distinction between how you treat regulated networks like cable systems and unregulated information services like broadband Internet access that travel over those networks," argued EarthLink Vice President for Law and Public Policy Dave Baker, in a statement. "Both statute and longstanding FCC precedent draw these distinctions, which the FCC chooses to ignore in [its] decision." Verizon Communications and the Media Access Project were among the FCC's critics as well.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association countered that the ruling favors competition over regulation.

"Given the vigorous competition between cable modem, digital-subscriber-line and satellite-delivered broadband Internet services, a policy of regulatory restraint is particularly appropriate," NCTA President and CEO Robert Sachs said, in a statement.


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