An appeals court has upheld rules that give local governments 90 days to grant or deny a request for a video franchise.

The biggest beneficiaries of the ruling will be AT&T and Verizon, who should be able to get quicker access to franchises granting them the right to rollout their respective U-verse and FiOS services.

On the losing side is the cable industry, which argued that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had exceeded its authority. The complaint was based on the view that the new rules provide a more favorable regulatory environment for new video providers than for incumbent providers.

The ruling by The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati said that the FCC does indeed have the authority to make such rules.

The FCC in December gave local jurisdictions a maximum of 90 days to act on applications by new television providers that already have access to city land to run connections, and gave 180 days for new entrants to cities and towns. They also bar local officials from imposing requirements on new entrants – such as building a local swimming pool – that the FCC said are unreasonable.

Verizon SVP and Deputy General Counsel Michael E. Glover released a statement that said: “The FCC's decision was pro-consumer and designed to open up markets controlled by incumbent cable carriers. The Commission's action was an important step toward competition at a time when consumers had little choice.”

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin took the opportunity to bash the cable industry over its fees: “Over the last ten years, cable rates have more than doubled. Consumers need greater choice and more competition to help address the soaring price of cable television. This ruling helps ensure that new competitors to cable are not subjected to unreasonable delays, build-out requirements and fees when trying to compete with the incumbent cable operators.”

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