FCC: Rules Apply to Telecom Video

WASHINGTON Federal regulators late Thursday denied SBC’s request to exempt new services including high-speed video from traditional telephone regulations.

On a 4-to-0 vote, the Federal Communica-
tions Commission decided it could not grant SBC’s request “because it asks us to forbear from requirements that may not even apply.”

FCC chairman Kevin Martin held the door open to future regulatory relief. “We should move forward to address the creation of a level-playing field” for all providers of Internet-protocol services including telephone and high-speed video, Martin said in a statement.

SBC said it would reach 18 million homes by 2007 with its Project Lightspeed, which will use fiber cables to provide high-speed Internet connections as well as voice and video services.

James Smith, an svp at the company, said SBC had hoped the FCC would “conclusively set a policy framework for the converging world of communications.” Smith added, “We also remain optimistic that this commission … is poised to take these issues head-on over the next several months.”

Cable competitors, also vying for the lucrative triple-play customer who buys voice, video and data services, had asked for similar regulatory relief if SBC was successful.