RE: HR 1542 [OT, anti-BS attempt, US]

From: Fletcher E Kittredge []
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2001 9:32 AM

> Yes, and a number of us look at their "exclusive"
agreements, with many
> municiplaities, and have been asking why they are not a
regulated monopoly.

Okay, so we know I can't touch-type and have lexdysic fingers. I would think
that this is well-known by now. I'm a programmer fercrisake! I would think
that the average reader here has a better parser than g++.

> Those contracts are as anti-competitive as it gets.

Roland, about which country are you holding this discussion? I am
located in the US and thought you were talking about the US.

If so, I am confused. What is exclusive about these agreements?
Can't you just file to become a CLEC, string fiber/copper on the poles
and complete directly with the cable companies? I haven't seen a
modern municipal cable contract yet that was exclusive and blocked
other providers of high speed Internet access, or even video.

Falcon Cable ... Morgan Hill, CA ... to name one of many. Livermore CA...
for another. San Jose .... and the list goes on...

Don't get me wrong, I am *very* much in favor of open access, have a
good business selling IP over cable plant and would love to do it over
Adlephia/TWAOL/AT&T plant, I just hate to see yet another bit 'o BS

I tried, in 1993, to drop a satellite head-end into a retirement
trailer^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmobilehome park. This was all private property. The
deal was a co-op where ech resident pays a monthly fee to the owners of the
park and we ran co-ax to feed all the residents, on a cost-recovery basis.
Upfront capitalization was amortised over 3 years. City council got wind of
it and threatened the park's owner with cancellation of their operating
permits becasue such a plant put the city at risk of violating their
exclusive franchise agreement with Falcon Cable, for cable TV provisioning.
This caused me to do some research into this. Yes, these exclusive contracts
still exist today as part of the cable franchise system. I should also tell
you that I worked for PacificBell Broadband, until 1997, where this also
became an issue. The LA beachhead was largely stone-walled becasue of this.

BTW, if you spend much time with regulators and lawyers, you will be
aware that there is a major difference between the cable network and
the PSTN. After the mid-1930's, the PSTN was built by a company which
was guaranteed a specific, profitable rate of return. The cable
network was built by many small entrepreneurs who were not guaranteed
a profit nor even solvency. For that reason, the PSTN is more
arguably a public resource.

Rights of way were granted, to cable operators, on a city-by-city basis, all
based on exclusive franchise agreements, nation-wide. At that time, all they
were pumping down those pipes were analog video. Now, that they are pumping
digital data streams, those contracts have not changed. What is
significantly different is that the telcos have no such exclusivity, per
city. This is not competition, it is market lock-out. Each cable operator
has a proprietary exclusive market lock on the city of operation. Many of
these contracts were bought by, what is now AT&T, when they bought all those
cable operators. Cable systems, plants, and rights of way, were specifically
excluded from regulatory effects and ignored by the 1996 telecom act.

Cable operators are unregulated local monopolies.


Cable operators are unregulated local monopolies.

No. They are regulated, by the franchise agreement. If the agreement isn't
strong enough to ensure the highest best use of public right-of-way then
it's a failure of the local government for not making it so (or the
state/FCC for forbiding the local governments from placing certain
requirements in the agreement).

It appears that there is a lot of shooting from the hip going on here.
cable regulation is fraught with legal complications and is changing
rapidly right now, and the layman anaysis going on here isn't doing the
topic justice.

It's additionally complicated by the fact that the laws differ from state
to state. In Florida, it's covered by Sec. 166.046, Florida Statutes and
the Communications Act of 1934, the Cable Communications Policy Act of
1984, the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of
1992, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

If there is any intrest, I believe that Martin County (Fl)'s 1999
agreement with Adelphia is online someplace, I could track down a
URL for it.


  Maybe you feel comfortable with the extent of regulation you see
(or think you see) in Florida but after a few years on the cable
advisory board in Greenfield, Massachusetts, I can tell you that there is
no effective regulation here. I seriously doubt that there is meaningful
cable regulation anywhere but I am willing to be corrected. At least in
Massachusetts, cable advisory boards are a sick joke.

          David Leonard

I'll second that. I serve on the Newton, MA cable board and consult to a
number of cities around the country.

In MA, the state Dept. of Telecom. and Energy tends to preempt local
boards whenever they try to regulate. It's not too much better anywhere