Modem Coalition Works `Martin Majority'

Representatives of a business and consumer coalition seeking regulation of
cable-modem service held talks Tuesday with two Federal Communications
Commission members and a top aide to a third in an effort to win support for
their plan.

Lawyers and lobbyists for the coalition -- which includes Inc. (, Microsoft Corp., the Media
Access Project, eBay Inc. ( and
the Consumer Electronics Association -- met with Republican commissioner Kevin
Martin, Democrat commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and Jordan Goldstein, broadband
adviser to Democratic commissioner Michael Copps.

Last month, those three commissioners teamed up to scuttle FCC chairman
Michael Powell's phone-deregulation agenda, giving hope to some lobbyists that
the "Martin Majority," as some have dubbed it, could strike again at the
GOP-controlled agency.

The Coalition of Broadband Users and Innovators, the formal name of the
group, wants the FCC to ensure that cable operators and other broadband-network
owners do not use their distribution power to discriminate against Web content
and commerce providers and against equipment vendors that want consumers to
attach their products to the network.

"The coalition is concerned that uncertainty about unfettered access to
broadband networks would stifle innovation because content and equipment
providers would not be assured that their new offerings would be reachable on
the Internet," CBUI lawyer Gerard Waldron said in a letter filed with the FCC

Last week, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president
Robert Sachs complained in a speech that the regulations being sought were
designed to address problems that don't exist and suggested that the intent was
to needlessly enmesh cable operators in regulatory conflict and red