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Forced access regulation would compel cable companies to provide non-discriminatory use of their lines to competing Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The goal is to ensure that ISPs that do not own cable lines can use existing cable the lines to reach their customers in the same way and on the same terms as IPSs owned by cable companies.
The purpose of forced access regulation is to control monopoly, but broadband today is anything but a monopoly. Telephone companies, cable TV companies, electric utilities, satellite firms, and wireless vendors are all positioning themselves to offer broadband service to residential customers. It is unlikely any one technology or company will dominate. Once all these firms have facilities in place, they will have little choice but to compete for customers if they want to make money on their investments. Therefore, there is little reason to impose forced access on any broadband provider.
Now that courts have decided that the federal government has the jurisdiction to impose forced access on cable television companies’ Internet services, both legislators and regulators appear interested in taking up the challenge. Thus far, their discussions have ignored the fact that while forced access is a remedy for monopoly, there is no monopoly in broadband.
Forced access regulation would compel the owners of high-speed data cable lines, known as “broadband access transport providers,” to provide non-discriminatory use of such lines to competing Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The goal is ensure that ISPs who do not own cable lines can use the lines to reach their customers in the same way and on the same terms as the cable companies’ own ISPs.
Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation