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Sachs Cautions FCC on Regulatory Parity

Federal regulators should refrain from applying Internet open-access rules to
cable broadband service if they decide that such access rules should continue to
apply to phone-company high-speed networks, National Cable &
Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs said Monday.

In a speech in Aspen, Colo., Sachs spoke out against 'regulatory parity' in
the sense that both cable and phone companies should shoulder access rules
requiring carriage of unaffiliated Internet-service providers.

If anything, regulatory parity should mean less and less regulation of
cable-modem service, Sachs said.

'Working to achieve deregulatory parity between competitors that offer
similar services makes a lot more policy sense than importing unnecessary and
ill-fitting regulations from one industry to another,' Sachs told a Progress
& Freedom Foundation forum.

Sachs' speech came in response to arguments by the phone industry that the
Federal Communications Commission should not apply access rules to cable and
phone broadband providers, but if the agency does adopt access rules, it should
apply them with equal force to cable and phone companies.

'If, for whatever reasons, DSL [digital subscriber line] remains subject to
regulation, `regulatory parity' is not a reason to impose unnecessary regulation
on cable-modem service,' Sachs said, claiming that cable and phone networks come
from different regulatory, financial and technological backgrounds.

Cable-industry opinion on regulatory parity is not uniform.

For example, AOL Time Warner Inc., the second-largest cable operator, has
told the FCC that under no circumstance should the agency apply access rules to
cable or remove them from phone-company DSL lines.