RealTime IT News

Internet On-Ramp Files Access Complaint Against TCI

Internet Ventures, Inc. affiliate Internet On-Ramp (IOR) filed a formal complaint Thursday with the city manager of Spokane, Washington, citing leased line access violations on the part of cable firm TCI.

In the complaint IOR requested that TeleCommunications, Inc. be required to "make channels available for leased or commercial use as specified in a franchise as consistent with federal requirements."

Under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, IOR contends that if TCI refuses to lease cable channels for ISP access, then its franchise with the city should be terminated.

The complaint further alleges that TCI intends to offer its @Home Internet service over the company's cable network and that TCI has rejected IOR's requests for access. According to the IVI affiliate, @Home will not be subject to viable competition that IOR access will bring to the Spokane, Washington marketplace.

IOR filed for leased access carriage for its PeRKInet Broadband Internet service with TCI of Washington in January of this year.

In February, Kenneth G. Watts, general manager of TCI of Washington, Spokane system, said that TCI "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 challenge."

The IOR complaint states that "this is precisely the anti-competitive conduct that the leased access rules were promulgated to prohibit. It is the people of Spokane that have financed the construction of their cable system with their payment of fees to TCI."

IVI and its affiliates contend that Section 612 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, is a mandate for leased access and offers ISPs with the opportunity to lease channel space in order to promote competition in the delivery of diverse sources of video programming. Cable systems are compensated for allocated channel space in accordance with a formula established by the Federal Communications Commission.

IVI has applied for leased access in Stockton and Ventura, Calif., Durango, Colo. and Spokane, Washington.

IVI already has three active cable access installations with Avenue TV Cable in Ventura, Calif., Cox Communications in Humboldt, Calif. and Davis Communications at Eastern Washington University. The broadband services were arranged as part of revenue sharing agreements and not subject to petitions for leased access to cable networks.