FCC opens up apartments for telcos

Nearly 30 million US households--many African-American and Hispanics--are set to be opened to competition for television services with the Federal Communication Commission expected to end cable's exclusive rights to apartment buildings and multiple dwelling units. 

Reacting to the 93 percent increase in cable prices over the last 10 years, FCC chairman Kevin Martin is expected to win approval for the proposal tomorrow. He told the New York Times: "Exclusive contracts have been one of the most significant barriers to competition. … This is a way to introduce additional completion which will result on in lower prices and greater innovation." 

The change has been strongly lobbied by the two telco giants, Verizon and AT&T, but has been vociferously opposed by Comcast and Time Warner and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. 

Any change is almost certain to be litigated and won't happen quickly. Witness this extract from a NCTA letter to the FCC: "Abrogating existing commercial agreements between cable operators and (apartment building and condo) owners is unwarranted and unfair as a policy matter, inconsistent with commission precedent, and well beyond the scope of the Commission's legal authority," the association wrote in a letter to the FCC.

 For More:
- New York Times Report
- Broadbandreports details some of the background 

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