The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has proposed a draft resolution that its members may vote on at its winter meeting later this month that would urge the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that all cable providers have equal access to content at a fair price.
NARUC's draft resolution noted the need for small and mid-size cable providers to be able to have access to content at a reasonable price in order to provide "triple play" packages, which usually include video, Internet and voice services. The resolution also discusses the FCC's recent actions on network neutrality and conditions included with the commission's approval of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger that dealt with the issue of content neutrality. The resolution also referenced the potential impact of possible changes to the universal service fund on smaller providers and those who primarily serve rural areas.
The draft resolution from the group, which represents state utility commissioners, also details the price hikes forced on some smaller and mid-sized cable firms by content providers. For example, the resolution noted that when Frontier Communications started serving some households formally served by Verizon in Indiana, Oregon and Washington, content providers demanded price hikes of between 30 percent and 45 percent.
In response, the draft resolution "strongly urges the FCC to carefully examine the damage these pricing practices may inflict on the business opportunities of midsize and small LECs [local exchange carriers] and comparable small and medium-sized cable providers and take appropriate action to rebalance the 'competitive playing field' to assure the ability of residents in small and rural markets to obtain the benefit of robust broadband is not impaired."