FCC mulls appeal in cable access dispute

California (AP) -- A federal appeals court is standing by its October ruling that cable TV operators should open their lines to rivals who also want to use them to sell high-speed Internet service.

The Federal Communications Commission asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit the decision, but the court declined to do so late Wednesday. The commission is mulling an appeal to the Supreme Court. If upheld, the circuit's decision would likely subject cable operators to the same rules as local phone companies, who are forced to lease their lines to rival providers of phone service and DSL Internet access. The FCC voted in March 2002 to exempt cable companies from laws that force phone companies to open their lines to competition. At the time, officials said the move was necessary to spur more investment in high-speed Internet services by cable companies, who have spent billions of dollars upgrading their networks.

Phone companies have complained that the FCC ruling left them at a disadvantage. They also have spent billions on network equipment to deliver DSL service. "I am disappointed that the court declined to address the merits of the commission's policy that was carefully developed over the past several years," Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement Thursday. A Powell spokesman said the chairman was mulling whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. Another commissioner, however, applauded the San Francisco-based court's decision to stand by its earlier ruling.

News source: CNN

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