A federal court judge will stand by her ruling that the board of the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control erred when it ruled that Internet protocol-delivered video products are not cable services and can't be regulated like them.
Judge Janet Bond Arterton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on Oct. 2 issued the ruling, rejecting a motion for reconsideration by AT&T Connecticut Inc.
The case was triggered by the actions of the DPUC board in June 2006. The panel reviewed AT&T's planned U-verse video service and agreed with the provider that because the programming is delivered via broadband and at the demand of the consumer, not in a continuous stream, that U-verse is not a cable service. It is more akin to a data service, the board held, and therefore AT&T was not subject to cable regulation by the state. The Connecticut panel has been the only regulatory body to define U-verse as anything other than a cable service.
The ruling was challenged by the New England Cable Telecommunications Association and the state's Office of Consumer Counsel. On July 7, Arterton issued a summary judgment that went against AT&T and the DPUC. The judge said the DPUC was preempted by federal law. Though federal law describes cable service as a one-way transmission to subscribers, definitions in the 1984 Cable Act specifically contemplate some subscriber interaction, she concluded. The fact that AT&T's customers will interact with a pool of programming is not enough to justify defining IPTV as a non-cable product, she indicated.
AT&T asked the judge to reconsider, alleging she didn't give "appropriate deference" to Federal Communications Commission rulings and other points of law, but the judge countered that AT&T's arguments "misinterpreted" her original summary judgment ruling.
The judge's ruling came one day after AT&T took advantage of a change in state franchising law and applied to be certified as a "competitive video provider," regulated by the DPUC.
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
Thank you for signing up to Multichannel News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.