Thursday, April 21, 2005

Incumbents and Regulation: Hypocrisy Be Thy Name!

This story from MarketWatch on a fight in Congress between cable and telephone advocates over the matter of regulating entry into video and data services is further proof of a couple of points that are relevant to our local fiber fight.

First, the Cox/BellSouth alliance against LUS is unnatural and runs counter to the recognized corporate interests of both companies. Second, for all their talk of belief in markets, the cable industry consistently seeks to use regulation to shield itself against competition.

The hearing that drew cable and phone reps to the barricades was a House Commerce Committee meeting that one of the early sessions of a process that aims to re-write the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

About a year after BellSouth's army of lobbyists swarmed Baton Rouge trying to legislatively block municipalities like Lafayette from getting into the information services business, the lobbyists for the RBOCs in Washington are arguing against any regulation of phone company attempts to get into the video business.

In the same week where a bought and sold state senator in Baton Rouge gives up one of her precious five-bill limit slots to the state cable TV association for a bill that would, in effect, waive the municipal franchise fee where municipalities enter the cable business, in Washington industry lobbyists argue in support of imposing franchise fees on new market entrants (i.e., phone companies).

Bottom line: BellSouth, Cox and their local allies opposing the LUS fiber project will use any available argument and tactic in their desperate attempts to kill this project. They have taken positions that run counter to their corporate and industry positions as staked out where it really matters to them – national telecommunications policy.

They will make arguments here that they cannot live with elsewhere. Their disregard for truth in this process is matched only by their total disregard for the intelligence of Lafayette citizens and the interests of this community.

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