PITTSBURGH, January 15, 2010 - With the Internet economy and America'sdigital future at stake, the American Cable Association proposed a series ofimportant Net Neutrality policies designed to secure a balanced broadbandecosystem that protected the interests of consumers, safeguarded the benefitsof an open Internet and preserved the incentive structure needed to justify thefinancial risk of deploying broadband facilities in rural, low-densitycommunities.
"ACA firmlybelieves that flawed regulation is worse than no regulation at all. Any attemptby the Federal Communications Commission to establish Net Neutrality rules mustinclude powerful Internet market participants that offer content, applications,services and devices, and not just focus on broadband access providers,"American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
ACA communicated itsviews on the proper role and scope of Net Neutrality regulation in detailedcomments (attached) filed with the FCC in a closely watched proceeding thatcould have a profound impact on the business strategy of small cable operatorsthat continue to provide broadband service to millions of consumers residing insome of the most economically challenging communities in the country.
ACA's sent a clearwarning that the goal of an open, vibrant Internet won't be achieved unless theagency moved beyond a rigid focus on the conduct of broadband access providers,particularly ACA members that clearly lack the market power to warrant evenlight government oversight.
"The FCC mustnot fall into the trap of adopting regulations that contain Hummer-sizeloopholes for powerful content companies ready to exploit exemptions so theycan skew markets and bend small broadband access providers to their will,"Polka said. "The writing is on the wall. Just look at the Walt DisneyCo.'s ESPN360 business model, which denies consumers access to online contentunless their broadband access provider has paid Disney wholesale fees that allsubscribers must pay. Disney's refusal to engage in a direct relationship withcustomers is the antithesis of an open Internet where consumer sovereigntyreigns."
From ACA'sperspective, the FCC needs to make a number of key adjustments to produce a coherentstrategy so that the agency achieves the goals it has set out for itself andthe public expects and deserves. To that extent, ACA recommended the followingpolicies to reduce ambiguity, provide greater clarity for all stakeholders, andreduce the risk of unintended consequences:
About the AmericanCable AssociationBased in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association isa trade organization representing nearly 900 smaller and medium-sized,independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban marketsacross America. Through active participation in the regulatory andlegislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advancethe interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness andviability of their business. For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/
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