The FCC finally made it a little bit easier for telcos to enter the video market, by requiring local regulators to vote within 90 days on TV franchise applications (no more sitting on them for six months). The FCC also decided that local regulators cannot impose "unreasonable" requirements on the telcos, meaning the regs can't force telcos to upgrade their networks in certain areas. Of course, the decision, which was handed down by the three Republican commissioners in the five member entity, has upset Democrats, the cable industry and many local regulators who feel their power has been usurped by Washington. I've refreshed my telecommunications press release feed a few times now, waiting for the lawsuits to come pouring in. Any minute now...
A new contention to the ruling is that local regulators can no longer require new entrants into the video market to build out their networks throughout the community--not just in the more lucrative, affluent neighborhoods. Massive lawsuits could tangle up the industry and some of its assets, leading to a slower rollout in some areas. Some believe the streamlined franchise order should have come from Congress instead of from the FCC, and they should apply to all parties in the video space, not just the new entrants.
For more on streamlining the franchise process:
- read this article from UPI