Telcos lobby Senate to change video franchising law

Verizon's CEO Ivan Seidenberg and AT&T's CEO Ed Whitacre lobbied the Senate yesterday, asking Congress to change national video-franchising rules. These are the same regulations that telcos say have stymied or preempted many IPTV deployments in the U.S. The franchise rules require cable companies and IPTV service providers to negotiate with local governments to get permission to deploy their services. Cable has been coping with them since the start, but telcos say it would take years for them to break in--not to mention lots of cash. For landscaping local community parks.

Seidenberg and Whitacre's pitch is yet another affirmation of the telcos' commitment to deploying IPTV services. It also shows just how frustrated they are with the decades-old law which makes little mention of the Internet, let alone a technology like IPTV.

Verizon and AT&T brought out the big guns yesterday after talks of rewriting the Telecom Act of '96 died down. Many consider the sprawling Telecom Act the most lobbied bill that ever hit the Senate floor, while former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called it one of the most important drivers of the economy in the late '90s. With prospects of the Herculean task being taken up again decidedly unlikely, telcos better hope the Senate answers their direct call. I think they will.

For more on the telcos' lobbying efforts:
- take a look at this article from Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

P.S. Does the new AT&T's ad on TV with "..Congress can act as a Catalyst.." ring a Bell?