Friday, November 04, 2005

Incumbents go at each other

Verizon and Cablevision, the masters of their respective phone and cable universes, are going at each other in New York.

Some of the uproar sounds very familiar: Cable is accused of trying to intimidate local officials by using baseless lawsuits as an avenue to launch a misinformation campaign. The Phone Company is blasted for trying to gain unfair advantage and deny service to poorer residents by demanding special agreements of the municipalities in return for (gasp) competing. Except for the fact that the accusing voices or not the Mayor of the Utilities Director it sounds a lot like Lafayette:

Thomas A. Dunne, a Verizon vice president, said ... that Cablevision last month sued Massapequa Park, a village on Long Island that negotiated a cable franchise agreement with Verizon, and plans to use the lawsuit to "launch a misinformation campaign." He said Cablevision's goal is "bullying other communities" into denying Verizon the right to sell cable services.
The retort:
"The phone company is trying to pressure local officials into granting television franchise agreements that surrender critical local controls and authority," Cablevision said in a written statement. "They are demanding agreements that give them free reign to install massive utility boxes wherever they want and to deny service to thousands of residents they deem economically and demographically undesirable.
It's not only the arguments that sound familiar; it's also the reason, a threatening fiber-optic invasion:
The spat is the latest evidence of how high the stakes are as Verizon seeks to offer cable service over the fiber-optic network it is building.
The day is coming in our own town when the unnatural alliance of BellSouth and Cox will come apart and when it does the arguments are going to sound mighty strange coming out of the mouths of the incumbents. Imagine Cox attacking BellSouth for redlining out some parts of town. Or BellSouth complaining that Cox is engaging in a campaign of misinformation in response.

It will surely be amusing. Especially if the battle gets into a three-way. LUS could agree with Cox on the first and BellSouth on the second. It'd be almost as entertaining as watching the legislature.

Laigniappe: From San Diego. Another Cable company (on the other side of the continent) accuses Cox of the same thing that Cox accuses Verizon of in New York: cherrypicking the most lucrative parts of a municipality in which to compete in defiance of franchise agreements. Ain't irony fine?

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