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Trick or Treat

Don't look for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to drop some candy in cable's bag on Halloween.

Instead, look for the agency to deliver another punch to the eye of the industry Wednesday if it reportedly votes in favor of abolishing cable's exclusive service deals with apartment buildings and other so-called multiple-dwelling units (MDUs).

If approved, the measure could generate a big opportunity for cable "overbuilders" such as RCN Corp. as well as some big telcos, particularly Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which have pushed for such a ruling.

"This is a way to introduce additional competition, which will result in lower prices and greater innovation, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the New York Times, likely telegraphing that he indeed has the votes necessary.

And the move in this direction isn't a big surprise considering recent history. In early June, the FCC introduced some new rules that, among other things, clarified some inside wiring issues that address "legal and practical bottlenecks" that can hinder MDU service competition. (See FCC Opens Up MDU Market.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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