Internet TV should be regulated like cable, Blumenthal says

John O'Brien Aug. 6, 2007, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Statewide competition in cable television is what Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says is what he would like to see after requesting AT&T be required to obtain a cable license for its Internet television service.

Blumenthal filed an emergency petition Monday with the Department of Public Utility Control, citing a recent federal court ruling that says AT&T's Internet Protocol Television service is cable television.

That federal ruling, Blumenthal says, nixes changes to state law that weakened the regulation of cable TV. IPTV is a system where digital television service is delivered by Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure.

"We are seeking to enforce a new era of cable competition," Blumenthal said. "The first steps are an emergency order that would stop AT&T from constructing new facilities and signing up new customers until it has a franchise."

Blumenthal claims the industry has received a turning point that could lead to lower cable prices and better service if the DPUC grants his petition. Since AT&T serves most of the state, it should have to provide its IPTV to all households, he added. The company offers the service in a few communities.

"AT&T can no longer cherry-pick the wealthiest and most accessible customers while denying most consumers the benefits of competition," he said.

"The federal court ruling -- that IPTV is cable and must be licensed and regulated as cable -- should mean real competition. I have asked the DPUC to immediately order that AT&T must have a license for its IPTV service, assuring a competitive market for cable. I urge AT&T to embrace this decision and seek a statewide franchise, a win-win for the company and consumers. The company can expand into the entire state, and consumers will see the benefits of competition," Blumenthal said.

"This ruling nullifies a recent misguided state statute that eviscerates consumer protections for cable customers. Cable and IPTV operators remain subject to common sense consumer protection and public service requirements."

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