Cable TV

US cable companies relieved from sharing broadband lines

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MUMBAI: In a far-reaching judgment, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Cable companies that offer broadband Internet access do not have to open their high-speed lines to competitors.

"Cable companies are under no legal obligation to share their lines with smaller Internet service providers, dealing a major blow to independent ISPs, extending the power of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and opening up the possibility of extensive deregulation in the telecommunications world," the landmark ruling said.

The judgment in the "Brand X" case upholds a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling that said cable companies were exempt from the same regulations requiring phone companies to offer independent providers access to phone-company lines. The issue reached the Supreme Court as Brand X Internet, an ISP, challenged the FCC's cable modem rules.

Speaking on the aftereffects of the ruling, the Camcast scenario looks interesting. Comcast allows internet service provider EarthLink to use its lines in the Seattle area, a partnership that began in 2002. According to reports, Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp refused to comment on whether the relationship would be affected by the Supreme Court ruling.

As expected, US cable companies have hailed the ruling while consumer advocates and small Internet service providers have warned that the deregulation wave would lead to a broadband duopoly that could limit Internet options.

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