CABLE IS TELECOM
Cable companies would be required to open their networks to rival high-speed Internet service providers under a federal appeals court ruling yesterday that could lead to more choices for consumers and subject the industry to the same competitive pressures roiling the telephone market.
The ruling by the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit bars the Federal Communications Commission from following through with plans to allow cable companies to exclude rivals from selling competing brands of Internet service over their lines.
The FCC adopted its deregulatory approach last year, betting that it would give the cable industry an incentive to continue investing in sophisticated fiber-optic networks. But the court said the agency must continue to classify cable’s Internet offerings as a telecommunications service, subjecting it to the same regulations governing high-speed Internet service provided by telephone companies.
Currently, the vast majority of the nation’s approximately 14 million homes that subscribe to cable high-speed Internet service have no choice when it comes to their service provider. If the ruling survives a likely appeal, the decision could provide broadband Internet users with new options for the content they see online, their e-mail addresses and potentially the monthly rates they pay.
This should be very good news, helping to bring down outrageously high prices for broadband access.