Telcos turn to Congress on competition issues

Congress must aggressively regulate the rates that the cable industry charges for subscription video programming — or allow Bell telecommunications companies to compete. That’s the word from telecom executives who gathered last week at SuperComm in Chicago.

The heads of SBC, Verizon Communications and BellSouth all vowed to mount a legislative counterattack to what they characterized as cable industry efforts to thwart their entry into the pay-television market.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg highlighted three policy issues necessary to drive competition in high-speed Internet and video delivery: protecting intellectual property, providing regulatory parity between the Bells and the cable companies, and overhauling the franchising process.

The cable industry has insisted that the Bell companies offering video services must obtain franchises from municipal governments before selling video programming. Verizon and SBC call that a tactic for delaying competition.

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