Virginia Congressman Appeals for Leased Access

Virginia Congressman Rick
Boucher
this week made a last ditch effort to rescue the Internet Ventures Inc. petition for “leased
access” currently under review at the Federal
Communications Commission
.

Rep. Boucher is currently in his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives where he is
also a member of the House
Commerce Committee
and its Telecommunications sub-committee. Boucher
initiated the House Internet Caucus in 1996 and serves as co-chairman of
the 100-member group that helps guide federal policy for the Internet.

In a letter to FCC Chairman William Kennard, Boucher expressed his support
for the pending IVI petition, which if approved, would grant independent
Internet service providers access to proprietary cable networks under
Section 612 of the Communications Act.

In the letter, Boucher said that approving the IVI petition would provide
diversity of information sources for the general population and create open
competition among broadband service providers.

Boucher said that by approving “leased access,” the commission would thwart
cable companies’ monopolistic tendencies in the marketplace.

“Given their monopoly power, cable companies will not necessarily lease
channels to independent entities that might compete with cable’s own
service offerings,” Boucher wrote.

In recognition of independent ISPs’ ability to impact the industry, Boucher
said that a favorable response from the Commission would facilitate
high-speed cable access deployment.

“Favorable commission action regarding this Petition will help to
accelerate the delivery of high speed, competitively priced broadband
services to the American public,” Boucher said. “Enabling thousands of ISPs
to lease capacity from cable systems will accelerate consumers’ demand for
high-speed broadband services.”

Don Janke, IVI president, said cable access consumers are best served
by competition in the marketplace, even if the FCC has to force access to
cable delivery systems.

The FCC is expected to rule on the IVI petition next week. Industry
insiders report that the petition is doomed by the Commission’s “hands-off”
stance toward regulating the Internet. Janke said he expects that the
federal regulators would deny the order, but that the struggle cable access
would not end there.

Quoting baseball great Yogi Berra, Janke believes, “It’s not over until
it’s over.”

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