Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, today endorsed allowing telephone companies to offer video programming under a “national franchise,” if Congress also enacts a policy requiring “net neutrality.”
In testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee, Sohn said that granting a national franchise to telephone companies will increase competition will “bring more competition to market faster, resulting in greater consumer choice and lower prices.” Without a national franchise, telephone companies would need to obtain permission to offer video services from each existing local franchising authority.
Sohn said that local governments should still have control over their rights-of-way and should still be compensated for the grant of the franchise. In addition, there should be adequate capacity on new systems for local public, educational and government uses.
However, she said, Congress should recognize that allowing a new broadband connection into the home encompasses more than simply video service. New offerings for data and telephone communications are part of what can be offered over the same wire into the home.
As a result, Sohn said, “should Congress grant video providers the extraordinary regulatory relief represented by national broadband video franchises – turning nearly 40 years of local control of video services on its head — Congress must also ensure “net neutrality.” Such a policy would ensure that those same companies make their broadband networks available to all applications, content and service providers on a non-discriminatory basis.”
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