The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, in concert with some small cable operators, the Hispanic Federation and the National Congress of Black Women, have formed a new group, Broadband Everywhere, and Web site, www.broadbandeverywhere.org, to lobby on telecommunications regulation reform.
The group will push for a level playing field for telcos and cable related to any video franchise reform, as well as for a continuing role for local government in franchises.
The group, which officially launched Wednesday, said its charter was threefold:
"Deregulation – Telecommunications policy should rely on market forces, to the extent practicable, in order to create the necessary incentives for deployment of broadband everywhere.
Uniform Rules – All providers of broadband and video services, regardless of technology, should play by the same rules for the same services on a level regulatory playing field.
Local Role ­– No one knows the needs of local communities better than local governments. This is a fundamental part of our system of federalism. Local governments should retain the core authority necessary to protect and further the interests of local consumers."
The telco-backed lobby group/Web site Consumers for Cable Choice launched last summer, its goal to "rouse the cable monopolies from their cozy perches, hiding behind the shield and vagaries of local regulations, and [force them] to compete based on the quality of their products and services.
Both sides are trying to influence the writing of new telecom legislation. Some type of Video franchise reform is almost a given, but what shape it will take remains an open question.
One thing is clear. The administration, the FCC and many in Congress are looking to streamline the entry of telcos into the video/broadband service sphere to speed the rollout of broadband, as well as spur price and service competition to cable.
Just as clear is cable's desire to prevent the telcos from gaining a regulatory advantage, particularly given the $90 billion in capital investment it is seeking to recoup.