Don't Look for Price Wars, Says NCTA

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The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is asking the FCC not to put too much stock in the telco argument that fast-tracking their video services would lead to price competition with cable.

Telcos have been hammering cable prices in ads, which NCTA SVP, law and regulation policy, Dan Brenner notes "even a casual viewer would be at pains to avoid," showing TV sets rocketing through the roof, mimicking skyrocketing cable bills, and offering themselves as an alternative.

In a letter to the commission, Brenner says that argument is undercut by various telco statements, attributed to executives of AT&T, that their IPTV video service would be about the same price, and perhaps slightly higher, than cable.

"We would urge care in relying on price competition by telcos as a public policy justification for action in this proceeding," Brenner said. He conceded there might be other "competitive features" of telco video, but "undercutting the prices of cable operators does not appear to be one of them."

Congress, the administration, and the FCC have all pointed to price and service competition, as well as the roll-out of high-speed Internet, as government interests in streamlining the franchising process and advancing the roll-out of broadband.

NCTA wants to streamline the process, too, but it argues that telcos should not be given a competitive advantage.

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