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ISPs Urge Court to Open Cable Lines

2/22/2005 9:33 AM Eastern

The Supreme Court should reject the Federal Communications Commission’s conclusion that cable companies do not have to share their high-speed-data networks with competing Internet-service providers, ISPs told the high court Tuesday.

The ISPs -- including EarthLink Inc. and Brand X Internet Services -- want regulated access to cable’s data lines because they don’t have their own facilities to reach broadband customers.

The ISPs won in lower court, but the Bush administration, the FCC and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association want that decision overturned so that cable companies, and not regulators, decide whether cable systems offer multiple ISPs.

In the brief, the ISPs told the Supreme Court that the law requires cable to open its lines and that cable’s decision to bundle transmission and content did not insulate cable-modem service from open-access requirements.

The FCC’s “approach would render much of the Communications Act a nullity and leave the [FCC] without authority to regulate in any meaningful way vast communications networks serving millions of people over public rights of way,” the ISPs said.

The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments March 29. The case is NCTA vs. Brand X Internet Services.

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