AOL Lobbies for High-Speed Cable
WASHINGTON (AP) _ America Online is part of a lobbying coalition formed Wednesday with the aim of getting access to high-speed Internet and data lines controlled by cable TV companies.
The announcement of the OpenNet coalition comes almost a week after the Federal Communications Commission decided not to open a proceeding that would force cable companies to share high-speed lines with their competitors.
Still, the FCC said it would keep an eye on the matter to ensure that consumers’ options for Internet service are not restricted.
Access to the technology has pitted the cable industry against AOL and consumer and interest groups and has produced an intense lobbying battle over what the FCC and Congress should do.
The coalition’s ``scheme would surely slow broadband deployment,″ said National Cable Television Association President Decker Anstrom.
In addition to AOL, others involved in the coalition are: MindSpring Enterprises, Prodigy Communications Corp., Netscape, US West, MCI WorldCom, Cable & Wireless USA, Washington Association of Internet Service Providers, CyberRamp Internet Services, Bertelsmann Internet Services, ConnectNet and the Texas Internet Service Providers Association.
US West President Sol Trujillo, attending a conference here, told reporters that his company will press lawmakers for legislation giving companies access to cable’s high-speed lines. He also said US West will seek legislation permitting it and the nation’s four other Bell companies to move data across local calling boundaries, something they aren’t allowed to do now.
AOL and MindSpring also were among groups urging the FCC to force cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. to provide rivals access to its high-speed lines as a condition of merging with AT&T. Analysts are saying the FCC is not expected to impose that condition on the merger.