TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Calif. Court Rules Against AT&T

Calif. Court Rules Against AT&T

Neal McLain (
Sat, 15 Apr 2006 09:06:04 -0400

By Linda Haugsted 4/14/2006 12:14:00 PM
Multichannel News

Cities are within their rights to demand a franchise of AT&T Inc. for
its video service, according to a ruling from a judge in U.S. District
Court for the Northern District of California.

The judge, however, did not rule specifically on whether Internet-
protocol-delivered video is a cable service. But cities can pursue
franchises because the action is not specifically precluded in the
federal Cable Act, Judge Maxine Chesney wrote in a decision issued

The ruling is a blow to AT&T, which argued that its service -- which
will deliver programming in data packets at the demand of consumers --
does not meet the definition of a cable service.

The company has challenged any attempts at franchising, filing this
suit against Walnut Creek in California, as well as another city
there, to go along with three suits in Illinois. AT&T argued that it
has a right to deliver video under the authority given to it as a
local-exchange carrier.

The dispute in this case arose when AT&T sought permits to place
hardware in city-controlled rights of way. Walnut Creek issued the
permits, but with the caveat that by accepting them, AT&T would be
agreeing to enter later into a franchise agreement in advance of
delivering video.

AT&T's suit alleged pre-emption of the city action by federal law,
violations of the First Amendment and contracts policy, as well as
state law violations. Chesney deferred the state arguments to state
court. She dismissed the federal counts, but AT&T has 20 days to
refile on those counts.

Posted by Neal McLain with thanks to Jonathan Kramer of

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: "VoIP via Verizon Down 780k/s up 135k/s DSL Line?"
Go to Previous message: Anick Jesdanun: "The Proposed new '.tel' Domain From ICANN"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page