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Comcast Asks FCC to Revoke Boston's New License to Reregulate Rates

Top cable operator Comcast has officially asked the FCC to reconsider giving the City of Boston the power to reregulate its rates there, making a case for reinstatement on the grounds that  it faces sufficient competition from overbuilder RCN and satellite services.

The FCC's Media Bureau recertified the city back in April, citing changed circumstances in the 10 years since RCN was considered sufficient competition under the less stringent local exchange carrier effective competition test.

The FCC said Comcast could stay that recertification by filing for reconsideration under a different, competing multichannel video provider, test, which Comcast did in advance of this week's Cable Show in Boston, according to a copy of the filing.

The competing provider test has two prongs. The franchise area must be served by two unaffiliated MVPDs, each offering comparable programming to at least half the market. Comcast says DISH and DirecTV fill that bill -- satellite availability has been used to establish effective competiton in numerous markets.

The second prong is that at least 15% of the market has to subscribe to an unaffiliated provider. Comcast says that combining DirecTV subs with DISH subs with RCN subs yields a figure of 46,428, which is 18.37% of occupied households according to the 2010 census.

Both prongs of the competing provider test are satisfied in Comcast's Boston franchise area," says Comcast.

"In Boston and throughout the country, Comcast is facing rigorous MVPD competition," said the company. "In these circumstances, the marketplace, rather than regulation, should dictate Comcast's prices," it added, in calling for the FCC to revoke Boston's authority to regulate basic rates.