The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met today and voted unanimously to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on issues relating to the implementation of Section 621(a)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934. The Notice seeks input on what can be done to ensure that local franchising authorities (LFAs) do not unreasonably refuse to award local franchises to competitive entrants.
"We are hearing from some providers that local authorities may be making the process of getting franchises unreasonably difficult. New video entrants, regardless of the technology they employ, should be encouraged – not impeded from entry," explained FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
You can read the full notice via the www.fcc.gov
With Verizon starting to offer IPTV and SBC right behind, local franchise agreements to offer television services has been a hot topic this year. Verizon and SBC have both been lobbying Congress asking for franchise reform to increase their time to market. Both contest that negotiating for local franchise agreements is difficult, drawn out, and they sometimes face outrageous requirements.
reported that, "In one community, for example, officials want Verizon Communications Inc. to connect all of the local traffic signals with fiber, according to a company filing with the FCC. Another town wants Verizon to provide funds so the community can purchase street lights from the local power company."
Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg has spoke out numerous time regarind the outdated franchise laws, "We already have the network to provide voice and data. Now we have to go through an additional process in each individual town just to provide video over the same pipe. It makes no sense."
"It is the Commission’s responsibility to remove unreasonable roadblocks to competition. Through the proceeding we commence today, we seek to ensure that local authorities are not thwarting competition by unreasonably refusing to award additional competitive franchises," said Martin.