SBC Seeks Big Texas Franchise Too

Monkey see, monkey do. Aping Verizon Communications' behavior in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, SBC Communications is bidding for the right to offer video services in the San Antonio area. Taking advantage of a new Texas law that it helped strong-arm through the state legislature, SBC applied with the state to deliver video to 21 communities in the San Antonio market. The move is pretty ironic for SBC because, unlike Verizon, it claims that it doesn't need a cable franchise to offer its proposed IPTV service. In an argument hotly contested by cable types, the Bell argues that its IPTV service doesn't qualify as a cable service under federal law. But SBC said it filed for a state franchise in Texas because the new law covers all video providers, not just cable operators. Go figure. Under the Texas law, the state public utility commission has just 17 working days to issue a franchise. That means that SBC could theoretically be able to start competing against video incumbents Time Warner Cable and Grande Communications by early November. But don't count on that happening just yet. Unlike Verizon's new FiOS TV service, SBC's planned video service is not yet ready for prime-time.

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