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ACA's Boyers to Senate: Economics, Regs, Driving Operators Out

Small cable operators plan to tell Congress that rising
costs, declining video margins, outdated legacy regs and "onerous"
new ones have driven many operators out of business.

Among the problematic regs are those related to pole
attachments and rights of way that drive up costs and make broadband deployment
in rural areas more difficult.

That is according to American Cable Association board member
Patricia Jo Boyers of Boycom Cablevision and her prepared testimony for a
Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the state or rural communications
scheduled for April 9.

She says that smaller cable operators serving rural areas
need to continue to offer usage-based pricing and employ "reasonable
network management" to control subs who use "excessive amounts"
of bandwidth, and to be able to offer specialized or "managed"
services. Both of those practices are allowable under FCC network neutrality
rules, but have come under fire from activist groups.

She also said another key is for the government not to
subsidize competitors, though it should allow smaller operators to compete for
subsidies in truly unserved areas. The Commission is migrating Universal
Service Fund for telecom in high-cost, hard to reach, mostly rural areas to a
reverse auction via the newly named Connect America Fund.

"Third, all broadband providers, including
cable operators, should have a fair opportunity to access support when the
Commission holds reverse auctions," she says. Two other keys to the
Connect America Fund disbursement, she said, are that no support should go
where there are competitive providers and that the funds should be limited only
to that which is necessary to deliver the speed required by the commission,
which she says is 4 Mbps/12 Mbps.