Blumenthal: AT&T wasting its time on litigation

John O'Brien Oct. 17, 2007, 2:34pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Despite a recent federal court ruling, AT&T still refuses to apply for a cable license in Connecticut and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal refuses to let the company get away with it.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Alderton decided she would not reconsider her July ruling that requires AT&T's U-Verse Internet Protocol Television service be regulated as a cable service. The company responded Oct. 10 with a motion to alter judgment.

"AT&T shareholders and consumers should be outraged by the company's colossal waste of resources on litigation simply to avoid vital consumer protections," Blumenthal said. "We are ready to wholeheartedly to assist AT&T in obtaining a full cable franchise, but they are flagrantly breaking the law -- seeking to avoid the franchise and all of the consumer protections that go with it."

Alderton's decision overturned a June 2006 ruling from the state's Department of Public Utility Control. Currently before that same agency is AT&T's application to become a certified video service provider, what Blumenthal calls a "lightly regulated franchise."

AT&T's latest argument claims that the court's decision is moot, considering legislation that went into effect Oct. 1. "An Act Concerning Certified Competitive Video Service, AT&T says, allows video entrants to obtain franchises for video service in competition with incumbent cable providers.

"A key purpose of the Act was to ensure that AT&T could provide video service in the state on a firm legal footing by rendering the (DPUC's) decision and this litigation moot," the company's motion says. "Under Count I of their complaints, plaintiffs claimed that the DPUC's decision was preempted by federal law.

"But that decision lost all legal significant on Oct. 1 because the decision was replaced and supplanted by the new legislation. As of Oct. 1, there was thus no longer a live controversy regarding the decision. The mootness of Count I requires the vacatur of this Court's entry of judgement, as a case must remain live to the moment of final appellate decision."

The U-Verse service is available in 40 towns and cities around the state, an earlier report in the Hartford Courant said. It also said AT&T created 240 new installation jobs.

"AT&T's U-Verse service presents an opportunity to remake the cable landscape and provide real competition in Connecticut," Blumenthal said. "I want that service offered to all citizens in the state, not just the most wealthy or most accessible."

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