RealTime IT News

High-Speed Upstart Loses Battle With TCI

The Spokane, Wash. franchise of cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. has denied a request by a high-speed upstart to use its cable lines to offer its own product to subscribers in that community.

Internet Ventures Inc. markets a high-speed Internet offering under the name PerkiNet that would have competed with TCI's @Home.

Internet Ventures works to secure agreements with cable providers to use their lines to offer its service, which is available in speeds ranging from 256 kilobits to 10 megabytes downstream. It uses conventional telephone lines to send data upstream.

The company applied to TCI's Spokane affiliate in January and received the letter denying access late last week. In the letter, TCI said it "does not believe that it is required to provide leased access carriage for an Internet access service and we are not willing to do so."

"While we understand your argument, we do not believe that it is a valid interpretation of either the letter or the spirit of the law and we will vigorously defend our position against the challenge."

Internet Ventures President Don Janke maintains that the Communications Act of 1934 requires cable companies to offer carriage to companies wanting to offer high-speed Internet service over cable.

He cited Tuesday's movie licensing deal between Trimark Holdings and Broadcast.com as further evidence that broadband Internet providers qualify for the carriage provision.

"TCI seems far more interested in extending its self-appointed 'gatekeeper' role from cable to the Internet, than it does in providing Spokane consumers with the pricing and service benefits that come with true competition," Janke said in a statement.

Company spokesman Paul Schneider told InternetNews.com IVI is weighing several options, including lobbying the Spokane City Council and its cable commission. He said both groups strongly advocated competition when they approved the franchise transfer to AT&T Corp., which is finalizing its purchase of the cable operator.

If the company is not successful on the local level, Schneider said it will likely take the matter to court.

The company currently offers high-speed access over cable to approximately 1,350 subscribers in California and Washington.