Wow, instead of local monopolies, they now get to be state-wide

GReat idea...

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email me at mark at neofast dot net
Direct commercial inquiries to purchasing at neofast dot net

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dawn DiPietro" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "WISPA General List" <>
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 6:11 AM
Subject: [WISPA] Langberg: State tries its hand at telecom regulation

> Langberg: State tries its hand at telecom regulation
> By Mike Langberg
> Mercury News
> Before you go any further, please get two toothpicks and prop open your
> eyes to keep from falling asleep.
> I'm going to talk about changes in state regulation of
> telecommunications, a topic that's usually a sure cure for insomnia.
> But don't give up.
> This involves how much you pay and where you get Internet access, TV and
> phone service. (And don't really put toothpicks in your eyes -- it's
> dangerous.) So here goes: This week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is
> expected to sign the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of
> 2006, also known by its designation in the Legislature, AB 2987. The new
> law will accelerate a profound transformation in the way information and
> entertainment comes into our homes.
> Telephone companies, most notably AT&T and Verizon, will be able to
> obtain a single statewide franchise agreement to offer TV service
> through their wires.
> Cable companies, most notably Comcast, will also get to switch to a
> single statewide franchise once the phone companies start providing TV.
> This ends the previous system, in place for nearly half a century, by
> which cable companies negotiated franchise agreements with each city
> where they offered service.
> Almost no one, other than the cities themselves, is mourning the end of
> local franchising.
> The process was time-consuming and expensive, and it yielded little for
> consumers.
> City councils, routinely outgunned by big cable companies with high-paid
> lobbyists and lawyers, would bargain for trinkets, such as an extra TV
> camera at the local community-access studio, during franchise renewal
> The politicians would ignore, or were powerless to change, what
> consumers really cared about: abysmal customer service and high prices.
> Cable companies have cleaned up their act somewhat in recent years, but
> only because of the competitive threat from satellite TV services such
> as DirecTV and Dish Network.
> The poor track record of local cable franchise agreements, along with
> millions of dollars in lobbying money from AT&T and others, explains why
> AB 2987 sailed through the Legislature.
> The Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 77-0 on May 31, and the Senate
> followed with a 33-4 vote on Aug. 29.
> AT&T and Verizon are now promising to rapidly improve their home
> broadband connections in California, making them fast enough to deliver
> TV along with regular Internet access.
> ``We needed to remove this barrier'' of local franchise agreements, Jeff
> Weber, vice president for broadband strategy at AT&T headquarters in San
> Antonio, said in an interview earlier this month.
> The new law ``gives us the certainty that we'll be able to obtain a
> franchise to make this massive investment,'' added Tim McCallion, West
> region president for Verizon, which provides phone service locally in
> Los Gatos, Morgan Hill and Gilroy.
> The cable industry initially opposed the bill because it wouldn't have
> allowed statewide franchising for cable companies, but immediately
> switched sides when the bill was amended to let cable companies phase
> out local franchise agreements.
> If everything proceeds as expected -- never a sure bet with big telecom
> providers -- most homes in California should within a few years be able
> to choose between two ultra-high-speed broadband connections: one from
> the cable company, and one from the phone company.
> Whichever of these fat pipes you choose, it would be the only connection
> you'd need for Internet access, phone calls, TV and other online services.
> In theory, at least, the struggle between the two behemoths will hold
> down prices.
> There is indeed evidence that TV rates are lower in the handful of
> communities around the nation where the local phone company is offering
> video service in competition with the local cable company.
> Fortunately, we'll have additional protection. DirecTV and Dish Network
> are looking at ways to offer home broadband service, and future wireless
> networks could also keep the phone and cable companies from turning into
> a two-headed monopoly.
> Some consumer advocates did object to AB 2987, more out of concern that
> phone and cable companies would be too lightly regulated than out of any
> nostalgia for local franchise agreements.
> It's important, I believe, not to confuse the two issues.
> The end of local franchising for TV service is a good thing. City
> councils aren't the right place to tackle something as complicated as
> telecommunications regulation.
> But we still need appropriate regulation, especially around the
> much-discussed concept of network neutrality.
> The fat pipes coming into our homes must be an open link to the digital
> world. We need to be able to go anywhere online, without AT&T or Verizon
> or Comcast unfairly favoring their own offerings.
> As long as the state's politicians and regulators refuse to be
> intimidated, AB 2987 could ultimately do as much for consumers as for
> the big telecom companies that pushed the bill forward.
> ---
> ---
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