RealTime IT News

Excite@Home Urges Federal Court to Reconsider Ruling

The largest U.S. home access cable provider, Excite@Home Tuesday filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the a recent decision.

In May, the federal district court ruled that the city government of Portland, Ore., has the authority to force its cable TV company to open access to independent Internet services providers. AT&T-owned Tele-Communications Inc., is appealing the decision.

As a friend of the court, the Excite@Home brief warns that should the Portland ordinance be upheld it would draw local governments into complicated and costly regulation of Internet services.

David Pine, Excite@Home general counsel, noted that the Federal Communications Commission has filed a similar brief with the court and that the federal agency knows best how to serve the public interest.

"After looking at this issue carefully, the FCC, the government agency with the greatest expertise in telecommunications, concluded that a hands-off policy would best serve consumers," Pine said. "The FCC's brief clearly lays out the wisdom of that judgment and the need for a national policy of 'unregulation' of the Internet."

Excite@Home accused open access proponents of being access scavengers unwilling to make the kind of investment that Excite@Home and its cable partners have made. AT&T remains the controlling shareholder in Excite@Home.

The brief states "Forcing cable companies to provide access is thus tantamount to permitting third parties to free ride on the substantial investment of Excite@Home and its cable partners."

Open access proponents expect that the Excite@Home brief will have little bearing on the case, since it doesn't address the legal issues of local jurisdiction that is before the court.