MDU-Access Bill Shelved

Sacramento, Calif. -- Cable operators got a reprieve in
their fight against changes in California law that could have made it harder for
telecommunications competitors to gain access to multiple-dwelling units and commercial

Two bills were under consideration -- one in each house --
but burdened legislators were determined to give the interested parties the opportunity to
negotiate a compromise themselves in private before next year's legislative session.

California Cable Television Association vice president of
governmental affairs Dennis Mangers said a meeting is already planned with a commercial
building-management group in San Francisco that surfaced as a major industry
representative during talks on the two bills.

A Senate version of access reform includes the abolition of
the use of eminent domain by telecommunications providers -- a process under which a
utility was granted the ability to take property, then leave it to the courts later to
determine restitution to the property owner.

The cable industry opposed that version in favor of an
Assembly draft that would require building owners to provide access, with specific
conditions, to telecommunications providers. New buildings would be constructed with
adequate space to meet future telecommunications needs, and exclusive agreements would be

The latter was opposed by building owners and also by the
League of California Cities, which sent a bulletin to all of its members advocating flat
opposition to a bill that it termed "totally inappropriate."

Cities are fearful that telecommunications companies will
determine that the bill would allow them to ignore zoning ordinances, height limits,
colocation requirements and other local laws.

Cities also want the bill to clearly state that
telecommunications infrastructure placed in public rights-of-way is subject to fees to be
set by local governments and, possibly, by building owners.