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.

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