National Regulation

Cox, Comcast Dispute Rate Regulation In Connecticut

5/29/2008 6:24 AM Eastern

Incumbent cable operators who have qualified for state oversight in Connecticut argue that they face effective competition so their basic rates should no longer be regulated by the state Department of Public Utility Control.

The operators, which include Cox Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., contend that since the requirement for qualifying for a state operating certificate is the presence of a wireline competitor, they should no longer submit their rate filings to the DPUC.

Cox applied for state operating authority in one of its franchises and Comcast followed suit in several communities in March. The filings were triggered by the launch of AT&T's U-verse in those communities. In written comments sought by the DPUC to justify the request, operators argued that since legislators placed the competitive requirement in the 2007 law, it’s clear that lawmakers intended to terminate the DPUC's rate authority if and when a wireline competitor emerged.

But opponents of the operators' request fear the lack of state oversight will mean that cable operators facing competition will eliminate the low-cost basic tier. They note that AT&T does not offer a similar basic tier of service, so cable operators would have no competitive reason to retain that service level.

Written comments from those for and against deregulation have been submitted and a decision by the DPUC is pending.

September