Federal Court Upholds Local Open Access Requirement
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GTE Hails Decision as a Consumer Victory
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Early this afternoon, the United States District Court in Portland upheld the decision of the City of Portland and Multnomah County, Oregon to require AT&T;/TCI to provide "open access" to unaffiliated Internet Service Providers on its cable modem platform. When the city and county imposed the requirement several months ago, AT&T;/TCI immediately sued. The court's decision, by Judge Panner, rejected each and every argument made by AT&T;/TCI.
GTE, which intervened in the case on the side of the city and county, hails the court's decision as effectively preventing AT&T;/TCI from extending its cable monopoly into the Internet market. "The court's decision upholding the city and county's right to require 'open access' increases consumer choice and access to the Internet," said William P. Barr, GTE Executive Vice President - Government and Regulatory Advocacy and General Counsel. "It also validates the struggle by local communities across the country to stand up to the cable companies, who've used their city franchise lock to raise rates 22 percent in the past three years - and now are in a position to do the same with Internet users."
The city and county imposed the "open access" requirement as a condition for transferring TCI's local cable franchise license to AT&T.; "The efforts of local authorities to promote equal non-discriminatory access to the franchised cable-modem platform will assure a high level of competition among ISPs, and ultimately hold down the cost," Barr said. "Other communities scheduled to review AT&T;'s takeover of MediaOne, as well as those in the cable franchise renewal process, can look to the Portland decision as a way to promote Internet consumer choice."
With 1998 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is a leading telecommunications provider with one of the industry's broadest arrays of products and services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 17 states, as well as nationwide long-distance, directory, and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies. Outside the United States, the company serves customers on five continents.
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