Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Blue" California most likely to benefit from AB 2987

There's an interesting political angle to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent approval of AB 2987, the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006, that hasn't been picked up by the mainstream media.

Readers of this blog should be familiar with this legislation that takes effect next year and puts the California Public Utilities Commission in charge of issuing franchises to cable companies and telcos. For the major players such as Comcast and AT&T, the legislation requires the companies to upgrade their networks to provide video services and broadband Internet for only half or less of their service areas by Jan. 1, 2012.

Most likely, residents and businesses located in more densely populated coastal urban areas -- which also tend to lean Democratic and hence are dubbed "Blue" California -- will be in this group. Less densely populated inland areas -- Republican leaning "Red" California -- are likely to be given low priority by the cable and telco providers and left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Schwarzenegger may have been attempting to make nice with legislative Democrats in this election year by approving AB 2987, championed by Democratic speaker Fabian Nunez. But he left his political base in GOP Red California hung out to dry while Blue California is likely to be first in line for advanced telecommunications and video services.

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