President's municipal broadband push gets pushback from cable industry

Cable industry representatives responded pungently Wednesday to remarks made by President Barak Obama, who asked for the repeal of laws restricting towns and cities from setting up their own broadband networks.

Michael Powell, NCTA

Powell (Source: NCTA)

"America's decades-long policy of promoting private investment and exercising a light regulatory touch has yielded substantial benefits for American consumers," wrote Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable Telecommunications Association, in a statement.

"As evidence, cable's top broadband speeds have increased over 3,200 percent in a decade, Akamai recently reported that 12 American states are among the 20 fastest regions of the world and our markets remain the envy of the world," Powell added. "While government run networks may be appropriate in rare cases, many such enterprises have ended up in failure, saddling taxpayers with significant long-term financial liabilities and diverting scarce resources from other pressing local needs."

Added American Cable Association president and CEO Matthew Polka: "It is important to understand that the investments by small and medium-sized broadband providers come with substantial risk. Moreover, these providers continue to confront barriers that deter new investment.  For instance, ACA members face the possibility that the FCC soon will impose burdensome Title II regulations on their broadband service. The application of utility rules on smaller broadband service providers--entities that pose no risk to an open Internet--will serve only to create disincentives to upgrade plant and expand service areas. 

"Municipal providers, cable providers, and telephone companies also have to deal with runaway video programming costs that can eat into their investment budget," Polka further added.  "ACA has consistently asked lawmakers and policymakers to address this concern.  An immediate step the FCC can take is to conclude a long-pending rulemaking and ensure that the program buying group used by nearly all smaller broadband providers is protected from non-discriminatory treatment by video programmers under the FCC's program access rules."

For more:
- read this Variety story
- read this New York Post story
- read this ACA press release

Related links:
Obama wants the FCC to support local broadband
FCC's Wheeler challenges Tennessee's anti-municipal broadband laws
FCC's Wheeler wants to eliminate municipal broadband barriers