ACA: Smaller ISPS Lack Leverage to Be Anticompetitive Threat

Says agency needs to review marketplace holistically
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Smaller cable operators don't have the incentive or ability to act anticompetitively toward either their customers or edge providers.

ACA logo (American Cable Association)

That came in American Cable Association comments to the Federal Trade Commission as it tees up month-long hearings on protecting consumers and competition in a digital age.

ACA said smaller operators provide vital connectivity, particularly in the rural areas the government is focused on bringing into that digital age as full participants. But what they don't provide is any sort of anticompetitive threat that needs government to step in, "nor have edge providers complained about smaller ISPs unreasonably leveraging them," ACA adds. "If leverage exists, it lies with upstream providers [edge providers] (just as it does in the video programming market)."

Related: NCTA Says FTC Needs to Maintain Light Regulatory Touch

ACA has long complained about programmers' power to bundle programming into must-make deals that wind up requiring smaller operators to pay for and carry channels they don't want, a cost ACA told the FTC this week is increasingly difficult to pass on to customers, and so reduces the money available for other things, like broadband deployment.

ACA also said that its members are pledged to protect customer privacy and data security, which the FTC can already assure via its enforcement of unfair or deceptive acts or practices authority.

The association says the FTC's hearings should look holistically at the entire internet ecosystem, and take into account the relatively limited part of that occupied by smaller ISPs.

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