ISP Advocate Appeals to FCC for Open Cable Access

The U.S. Internet Industry Association
Friday filed a petition with the Federal
Communications Commission
asking that cable Internet services be
required to open their networks to rivals.

Dennis Hayes, USIIA chairman, cited the 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s June ruling
in Portland as the basis for its filing.

“The court has declared cable Internet to be a telecommunications service,”
Hayes said. “This ruling automatically subjects cable Internet services to
laws that mandate open competition on their networks.”

Hayes reprehended the FCC for its inactive stance on cable modem access
issues in the U.S.

“The failure to act, and continuing efforts to postpone consideration of
these issues, will result in substantial and irreparable harm to the
Internet industry and to consumers,” Hayes said. “We are asking the FCC to
do the job Congress gave it to do; open these services to competition, and
do it now.”

Hayes said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 specifically requires that
the FCC to create and maintain a competitive environment for
telecommunications service.

“The Commission has failed to do this in the cable Internet industry, which
has limited the growth opportunities for more than 8,000 Internet service
providers nationwide,” Hayes added. “We believe that the time has come for
the FCC to stop protecting the narrow interests of cable operators and open
their networks to the competition that consumers deserve.”

According to USIIA, cable operators continued to avoid sharing networks
with rival Internet service providers. The group said cable operators
claimed that it was technically impossible for ISPs to interconnect with
cable services, but that technical limitations were false.

USIIA said AT&T Corp. and
cable partner [email protected] contested the results because different cable headend
technology was used, other companies have developed systems that share
access to cable networks.

Network Equipment Technologies Inc. is
multi-service wide area networks supplier used by enterprises, government
organizations and carriers in more than 75 countries. Its multi-service
WANs and ATM products integrate voice, data, and video traffic with ATM,
Frame Relay, IP and ISDN capabilities for mission-critical applications.

Recently, Network Equipment Technologies, ventured away from its WAN-based
business core to do business as net.com and release its SCREAM200 Service
Creation Manager.

The program offers an open, non-proprietary service manager that enables
cable operators, local competitive carriers, and ISPs to rapidly set-up new
broadband services. The software works for both digital subscriber line and
cable broadband services.

Thirty-year telecom industry veteran Bert Whyte, net.com president and
chief executive officer, explained how the service creation solution works,
and what it means for broadband service providers.

“SCREAM200 sits at the edge of a core network, either behind the DSLAM for
DSL service, or at the headend of a cable system,” Whyte said. “Telephones
or modems connect to access a network, behind that is the core
infrastructure. There used to be a fixed wire at that point, now it’s a
software program. We provide an aggregation point for independent service
providers at the edge of the core network, so customers can determine what
services need directly from their provider.”

In terms of time-to-market, SCREAM200 takes an 18-month to three-year
deployment cycl

e, and slashes it down to three or four weeks. Independent software
vendors can drive distribution costs down by putting the buying decision in
the hands of its clients. Based on its software, broadband deployment could
be accelerated and shared in the U.S.

Cable companies can no longer deny that sharing coax facilities is
technology impossible. But USIIA’s Hayes said the heart of the issue is
consumer choice.

“We are in the midst of a revolutionary transition from dial-up
connections to the Internet to a new generation of broadband services, and
we must make this transition as seamless as possible to the individuals and
businesses moving to broadband,” Hayes said.

The USIIA noted that FCC Chairman William Kennard last week announced the
agency would look into the competitive issues at
work in the cable access arena. But Hayes said the FCC has not set a date
for any proceedings nor indicated when they might begin.

The USIIA called for immediate action on the Commission’s part, demanding
that telecommunications services must be treated equally under the law,
regardless of the facilities used.

Formed in 1994, Virginia-based USIIA is a non-profit trade association
organized to promote the growth of Internet businesses as a legislative
advocate for more than 400 Internet services.

Hayes is perhaps best known for inventing the PC modem in 1977. The company he founded, Hayes Microcomputer Products, shut down in early 1999 after it was unable to emerge from bankruptcy. Hayes set the standard for the way PCs communicate with modems, through the invention of the “AT” command set.

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