The FCC decision to strike down exclusive multi-dwelling cable contracts has met with predictable squealing from the cable lobby, with the National Cable and Telecommunications Association issuing a thinly veiled warning to expect litigation.
But while the NCTA statement is patently self-serving, the cable companies do have a very valid point when they say any prohibition has to apply to all video providers and not just cable. "There is ... no basis in law or public policy to allow alternative providers to obtain exclusivity while prohibiting incumbents from doing so," the NCTA told the FCC.
But if the FCC does not like MDU exclusivity what does it say about the hodge podge of state- and county-level franchises and accompanying micro-regulation that on any measure is now seeing the U.S. market running a poor third to Europe and Asia in the inexorable drive to an all IP, high access world?
Connecticut's determination to give AT&T's IPTV service the green light to compete--rather than have to negotiate county by county--was a breath of fresh air, but in a digital world that pays little respect to national boundaries or location, how antiquated is it that there still is state-based regulation for communication services.
Already it is clear Europe and pockets of Asia are driving much of the industry innovation--it was no accident Sony decided to release its first IPTV PS3 console in Korea. If the U.S. is to participate and profit in the IP revolution then it needs leadership capable of seeing beyond entrenched interest and creating a globally focused, technology neutral, cohesive competition framework to drive both investment and innovation. -Tom