Washington -- Cable-modem subscribers can go "anywhere, anytime" on the
Internet, obviating the need for anti-discrimination regulations pushed by
Amazon.com Inc. (www.amazon.com), The Walt
Disney Co. and Microsoft Corp., National Cable & Telecommunications
Association president Robert Sachs said in a speech here Tuesday to state
Sachs said the companies' call for "nondiscrimination" regulation against
cable was a cure in search of a disease because MSOs do not use their networks
to block consumers from reaching lawful Web sites.
"That is and has always been the case with cable-modem service. And given
competition from DSL [digital subscriber line] and others, cable has no interest
in even thinking about going in a different direction," Sachs said at the winter
meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
Further, Sachs noted that "discrimination" on the Internet is rife in the
sense that a popular Web site might have banner ads and electronic-commerce
links with Amazon.com but not necessarily with other book vendors, such as
Barnes & Noble Inc.
Amazon.com, Disney, and Microsoft want the Federal Communications Commission
to ensure that cable- and broadband-network owners do not use their control of
the high-speed pipeline to tilt outcomes in the Web-commerce arena.
Sachs said the companies have yet to cite any examples of cable
discrimination as they define it, and he suggested that at least Microsoft has
developed an ad hoc sense of what it means by discrimination.
"Four cable companies have entered into promotional arrangements with
Microsoft's Xbox Live," he added. "The same relationship doesn't exist today
with Nintendo [of America Inc.], [Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s]
PlayStation, or other online game businesses. You don't hear Microsoft
complaining about this."
More broadly, Sachs said, the broadband Internet market continues to evolve
with new applications sparking business-model experiments that need to
demonstrate their marketplace endurance.
"Imposing regulations that prevent sustainable business relationships in a
free economy is simply wrong," he added.
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