Blumenthal celebrating Internet TV ruling

John O'Brien Oct. 4, 2007, 4:23pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - A federal judge decided Tuesday that she will not reconsider her July ruling that requires AT&T's budding Internet television service be regulated like cable TV.

U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton issued the order, much to the delight of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal says AT&T must now apply for a cable television franchise.

"AT&T can no longer justify its law breaking. It must immediately get a lawfully required franchise to comply with federal and state law," Blumenthal said. "The federal court has reconfirmed what AT&T should have acknowledged: AT&T has been operating a cable service illegally without a franchise for almost a year, despite our repeated objections and petitions to the (Department of Public Utility Control)."

Blumenthal says the onus is now on the DPUC, which had its June 2006 ruling overturned by the court, to make sure AT&T complies with the ruling. Currently pending before the DPUC is an application from AT&T to become a certified video service provider.

Blumenthal called it an "application for a lightly regulated franchise."

At stake is the future of AT&T's Internet Protocol Television service called U-verse, currently available in 40 towns and cities around the state, a report in the Hartford Courant said.

"We are being welcomed with open arms around the state when residents learn that they are going to have a choice," said Chad Townes, AT&T vice president and general manager for Connecticut, according to the report.

He also said AT&T is adding 240 new employees to install U-verse.

Blumenthal appears ready to fight to ensure the company is held to the new federal standard.

"The DPUC franchise license is vital in leveling the playing field with AT&T's cable competitors and preventing AT&T from cherry-picking the wealthiest and most accessible customers, while denying others the benefits of competition," Blumenthal said.

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