SBC Pushes Ahead With Video Despite Franchise Laws

[COMMENT: Funny how SBC seems to want to have its cake and eat it too. They argue here "that a new competitor with new technology should not face old rules", yet in the case of VoIP they seem to have the opposite idea, that VoIP companies should be burdened with the rules that currently bind traditional phone companies. I happen to agree with their argument here, that new competitors with new technology should NOT face old rules, but wish that SBC would realize the hypocrisy of arguing one way in one situation and advocating for the opposite position in another similar situation, just depending on which argument is most to their benefit.]

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By Justin Hyde

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - SBC Communications has charted a collision course with local governments with its plans to launch a video television service late this year without seeking local franchise agreements.

SBC, the second-largest U.S. telecommunications company, plans to offer video to 18 million homes over the next three years, using a combination of new technology and existing telephone wires, in a plan it calls "Project Lightspeed."

But it is running into federal and state regulations for cable television franchises, which can govern everything from where a company can offer service to how many public-access channels it has to offer.

SBC is pressing its case with lawmakers and regulators, arguing that a new competitor with new technology should not face old rules, and that forging franchises with up to 2,000 small governments would greatly slow its plans.

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Jack Decker
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