Thursday, May 17, 2007

Protecting the telco/cable duopoly

This story out of New York state shows that telcos (in this case, Verizon) can offer broadband-based Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) in without legislation the telcos are seeking in the Empire State to put the state in charge of issuing so-called "video franchises" In this case, Multichannel News reports, the towns of West Haverstraw and North Castle approved Verizon's applications to provide IPTV over its propriety fiber optic FiOS infrastructure.

The telco/cable duopoly has pursued similar legislation in about a dozen states, claiming it would allow them to bypass local governments, bring greater market competition (pretty hard to do in a duopolistic market) and deploy broadband-based services more rapidly. However, at the slow pace at which the telcos and cable companies are expanding the availability of their broadband services, doing with local government regulation one area at a time certainly doesn't seem to be an impediment.

Rather than speed up deployment of broadband, the true objective of the state franchise measures, like a recently-promulgated Federal Communications Commission rule (which is being legally challenged by local governments), is to protect telcos and cable companies from local government demands they hasten the build out of their infrastructures in order to make broadband available to unserved areas.

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