Qwest telco wants the same deal as cable

Apr 8, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Qwest Communications confirmed last week that it has launched a lobbying campaign in Washington intended to ensure that the telephone and cable TV industries face similar regulation when offering packages of voice, video and Internet services over new broadband networks.
“We need regulatory parity,” said Chris Coles, Qwest executive VP, in an interview.
Qwest is already offering bundled packages of voice, video and Internet service to about 50,000 customers in Phoenix and the Denver suburbs.
It is using very high-speed digital subscriber line, or VDSL, technology that allows phone companies to get broadband into homes hooked up with traditional twisted copper wires.
One of the major benefits of VDSL, Mr. Coles said, is that it clears the way for phone companies to give cable a run for the money in bundled services.
But to justify investment in additional VDSL networks, Mr. Coles said, phone companies want assurances they won’t have to open their VDSL networks to competitors-regulatory obligations that cable companies don’t face.
“The promise is another broadband provider in the community, and everybody sees that as a good thing except the cable operators,” Mr. Coles said.
Mr. Coles also said phone company interest in video and other broadband services has been on the rise recently because technological improvements have made launch of competitive services feasible. “You are now able to make a cost-effective play in this area,” Mr. Coles said.
John Abel, a senior VP for the United States Telephone Association, said the phone industry also sees bundled broadband as an important growth opportunity. “There’s no money in just voice anymore,” Mr. Abel said.
Mr. Abel, formerly an executive for the National Association of Broadcasters, said the launch of competitive broadband networks would serve the interests of broadcasters by giving them a wired alternative to cable for getting their signals to consumers.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association declined comment.