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US Telecom's McCormick: Three Steps to a Wonderful Life

It wasn't clear whether he had ZuZu's petals in his pocket, but USTelecom President Walter McCormick outlined to a Practicing Law Institute crowd in Washington what was being billed as the path to "a wonderful life."

That life, said McCormick, was highlighted by "a panoply of new services that are innovative and attractively priced," awaiting widespread video-franchise reform to make that dream a reality.

He said the telecom industry had "reached out" to Congress, the FCC and state legislatures for help. Congress turned out not to be of much help; state legislatures have been more so, but that can be a time-consuming process, and so far, only 9 of 50 states have passed state franchise reform. Now, the FCC appears to be telecom's best hope for the fast track to a wired and wonderful Bedford

Essentially, McCormick's is the same path recently outlined and advocated by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in a speech several weeks ago to another Washington crowd. Martin said that the FCC should take three major steps to insure that local franchising authorities are not impeding the rollout of broadband and video price and service competition to cable: 1) Put a 90-day shot clock on local franchising authorities to rule on franchise requests; 2) clamp down on unreasonable and unrelated franchise conditions; and 3) limit build-outs for new service.

In McCormick's speech, he echoed those as the "three important steps that the FCC should take to help communities in the rest of the country."

It very likely that it will take some if not all of them. Martin has scheduled a vote on local franchise changes for the FCC's open meeting Dec. 20, which suggests, though there is no guarantee, that Martin has the three votes needed to make some or all of those changes.

If so, it would be granting much of the relief the telephone companies sought in the stalled telecom reform bill that got hung up on the issue of net neutrality.