One Parkway Center, Suite 212
December 18, 2001
Office of the Chief Counsel
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Room 4713 HCHB
Re:NTIA Docket No. 011109273-1273-01;
Comments of the American Cable Association
Dear Ms. Scarlett:
On behalf of ACA, I submit this letter and the accompanying comments to assist NTIA in developing the direction and emphasis of national broadband policy, particularly as applied to smaller markets.
ACA and its members have a vital interest in national broadband policy.ACA represents the interests of more than 900 independent cable companies.Together, ACA members serve about 7.5 million cable and Internet subscribers, primarily in smaller markets and rural areas.ACA members serve consumers in all 50 states and in virtually every Congressional district.ACA members range from small, family-run cable systems to multiple system operators focusing on smaller systems and smaller markets.About half of ACA’s members serve less than 1,000 subscribers.
ACA members are leading the industry in providing broadband services to smaller markets consumers and business.As shown in the attached Comments, ACA members are making substantial investments in network and equipment upgrades and are rolling out broadband services in markets often neglected by “big cable” or “big telephone.”Moreover, ACA members have not needed mega-mergers, lawsuits, or teams of lobbyists and lawyers to make this progress.It has come through hard work and small businesses taking risks, most often financed on Main Street, not Wall Street.
From a policy perspective, we believe two points are critical for continuing to foster broadband development in smaller markets:
·Regulatory restraint is working.ACA members have made impressive progress in delivering broadband services in smaller markets.As our Comments show, a key factor in this progress is the absence of burdensome federal, state, or local regulation.In short, regulatory restraint is working.
·A viable independent cable sector is vital for broadband deployment.Small market cable companies are providing the infrastructure for broadband services for millions of consumers.To continue to foster this progress, national broadband policy must recognize the substantial and serious threats to smaller cable systems.These include ever-increasing programming costs, abuse of retransmission consent by media conglomerates like Disney/ABC and Fox/News Corp, and the pending creation of a giant satellite monopoly “EchoTV”, to name just a few.To foster small market broadband deployment, lawmakers, regulators, and policy makers cannot neglect these issues.
ACA submitted the attached Comments to the FCC in response to Inquiry Concerning High-Speed Access to the Internet Over Cable and Other Facilities, GN Docket No. 00-185.To assist the Commission in evaluating cable modem service in smaller markets, ACA conducted an extensive member survey.As reported in our Comments, ACA’s Cable Modem Survey shows that independent cable companies are responding to marketplace incentives, making substantial investments to offer cable modem service in smaller markets, and delivering the service to an increasing number of customers.These facts validate the Commission’s marketplace approach to broadband deployment in smaller markets.As NTIA develops recommendations on broadband policy, it will benefit from recognizing the progress made in smaller markets, progress due in large part to the current environment of regulatory restraint.
If ACA can provide any further assistance to assist your evaluation of the deployment of broadband networks, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Matthew M. Polka
cc:Christopher C. Cinnamonscarlett 121801.doc